Thursday, March 29, 2018

How to Make Colored (and more attractive) Checkmarks for Acrobat Fill and Sign

I recently came across a forum post where someone was bemoaning the ugly and non-customizable black checkmark for Acrobat Fill and Sign.

How it used to work in Acrobat XI

It's been awhile since I've used that feature, so here is what I recall seeing the last time I used it. Here is a screenshot from Acrobat X!. The checkmark is available under Fill and Sign, much like it is in Acrobat DC.

When you select that Add checkmark tool, your cursor is loaded and you can draw out a checkmark anywhere you like, and as large as you like. It appears in the Comments pane as a stamp. It's a highly functional checkmark. Bold, easy and easy to see, and completely scalable Unfortunately, there is no way to make it a different color. At least not seemingly so.

What's interesting to note about this is that the checkmark appears as a stamp. That means that you can easily make your own custom stamp and make the checkmark in whatever color you like!

But in Acrobat DC...

The Fill and Sign tools look the same on the surface, but they've totally reworked as to how they function. These fill and sign tools are now their own "thing", and will now longer show up in the comments pane. 

When you add a checkmark, Acrobat now treats it as character (as opposed to a stamp), and as such, the size of it is changed by increasing the point size (which is accomplished by pressing the big A). There is no option to change the color. And when this thin checkmark is placed a on a form (which has typically been typeset in black), it can quickly become difficult to see).

But let's look at a few other places in Acrobat where there are checkmarks or varying sorts. The first one that comes to mind is the green checkmark stamp under the "Sign Here"
 category of standard stamps. It comes in a nice green color, and is scalable in size. But what if you need to fill out your form in blue?

To make checkmarks in other colors, you could create a custom stamp, import is it into Acrobat, create a new category for it... But there's a much faster solution. It's hiding under the Sticky note tool! Most people are only familiar with using the sticky note tool to make sticky notes. But did you know that it has many more appearance options than the standard yellow comment bubble?

First, open up the Properties Bar. Wait, you've never heard of the Properties Bar? Well, you are in good company, my friend! The Properties bar hasn't been updated in about a decade, and it was left out of the dockable tools in Acrobat DC. Most people don't even know that it exists. It has some really cool functionality: such as giving you the ability to edit font properties of sticky note text, as well as more easily edit the fill and stroke colors of drawing markup comments and adjust the opacity of comments.

Most of the functions of the Properties Bar were built into the Acrobat DC toolbar, with one glaring exception: The Sticky Note Icon. If your toolbar looks different than the screenshot below, that's because I customized my Quick Tools

So if you need to change your sticky note icon, you will have to bring up the Properties Bar, which is available by pressing Ctrl/Cmd + E. Alternatively, you can bring up the Sticky Note Properties dialog box by clicking on the settings icon (the little round sprocket in the top corner of the paint bucket icon (also known as Color Picker). I like to use the Properties Bar because I find the Sticky Note Properties dialog box to be very slow to open.

It's important to note that sticky note icons are not least not using the standard tools built into Acrobat. If you need to increase the size of your sticky note icons, you can do do using a script.

Now if you take a look at the comments pane, you'll the the blue checkmark there, listed as a comment. That means that (unless your PDF has security added to it), basically anyone can come along and remove the checkmark. If that bothers you, all you have to do it run the Flattenizer Script and your comments will be essentially burned into the document, and not easily deletable.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Making Hidden Characters More Subtle

As InDesign users, it’s very important to have total control of our typography. In order to do this, we need to pay just as much attention to the invisible characters as we do the visible characters.
Each hidden character has the potential to add increase spacing in potentially every direction. For paragraphs: this could be Space Before, Space After, Leading, etc. And certain characters offer all sorts of options: em spaces, en spaces, figure spaces, regular tabs, right-indent tabs, etc.

Things may look fine on the surface, but look what is hiding underneath!

If you feel that hidden characters are too distracting and interfere with your designing, follow the link below to learn how you can make them more subtle.

Read the entire article at InDesign Secrets: Making Hidden Characters More Subtle

Sunday, February 11, 2018

How to Customize Toolbars in Acrobat DC

This video will demonstrate how to customize your toolbar and Quick Tools in Acrobat DC. End the frustration and work more efficiently!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Quick and Dirty Page Imposition Using Only Acrobat

Today I was working on a 1-up half page flyer of which I need to print multiple copies. Normally, I would go into InDesign and manually impose the document 2-up and then export a new PDF. But I wanted to see if I could get an acceptable result right within Acrobat. The following screenshots are of the Thumbnails panel, but you can achieve the same thing using the Organize Pages tool.

Thumbnails Panel: 1 page

Much like in the other Adobe programs, if you hold down and Option and drag, you will duplicate the object. In this case, I held down Option while dragging the thumbnail. Now I've duplicated page 1. Read more about that technique here.

Thumbnails Panel: 2 pages

Next, go to the Print dialog box and choose the "Multiple" tab. This will only work if you have more than one page. That's why I had to duplicate page 1, so that Acrobat would actually have multiple pages to put together on the same page.

Print Dialog Box: Multiple Tab

You can also make a four up imposition using the same method. Duplicate pages 1 and 2 again, to get four of the same pages. Then choose 4 up per page.

Print Dialog Box: Print four up!
Now, remember that the borders won't be exact all the way around, so this imposition method won't be suitable for all applications. But if you just need to take a flyer and quickly print out multiple on a page, this can be a great tool. Also note that this trick won't work in Adobe Reader, because it requires page editing.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

An Easier Way to Mark Comments as Checked in Acrobat DC

In years gone, Acrobat had a much better way of dealing with the comment checkbox. There used to be a "Mark with CheckMark" option in the right-click contextual menu. But stating with Acrobat X, this was removed (not developed).

Acrobat 9
Acrobat XI

Acrobat DC

Instead, Acrobat has moved the only option for commenting over to the comments pane. So in order to mark a comment as checked, you always have to have the comments pane open. But if you need to use other tools in Acrobat during the course if commenting, you'll have to keep switching back and forth to get to the Comments PAIN.

To make matters worse, the checkbox is only visible if you have the comment selected. So if I need to check off a bunch of comments at once, I have to select a comment, then check it off, then select the next comment, then check it off.

No checkmark!

The checkmark is only visible if you click on the comment.

But the contrast is so low between the selected comment and the unselected comments that it's often hard to find the right one in the comments pane. Plus, the colors in the comments pane have absolutely nothing to do with the colors of the comments themselves. InAcrobat DC, each author gets a different comment color. The comments pane totally disregards the color of the comment itself.

Acrobat DC Comments PAIN

Compare that with how easy it is to locate a comment in the comments pane of Acrobat 9. The selected comment has a thick black border around it.

Acrobat 9 Comments Pane
Anyhow, now that I've vented a bit I'll get back to my solution for an easier method of making a checkmark in Acrobat DC. I purchased a script from Try 67: Mark Selected Comments as Checked. I dropped the script into the appropriate folder and now it appears in my menu bar. Sweet! I'd actually be able to activate the menu item from there if I was on a PC, but I'm on a mac, so I had to keep searching for an alternative way to activate the script.

Mark Selected Comment

This feature would be more useful if Acrobat allowed us to customize keyboard shortcuts, which it does not (and apparently, the Acrobat team has no intention of ever adding that feature because they deemed it as "Not very critical".

Once again, the Acrobat team dismisses the requests of users
I finally found a workaround! Because of the location that I saved my new javascript, it got added into something called "Add-Tools".

Add On Tools

Did you know that all the functions of the various tools can be added to your toolbar at the top? Right-click on the tool bar and choose "Customize Quick Tools. Then you can dig through this dialog box and add them. Be patient, as this dialog box doesn't have the nice filtering functionality that the main Tools Tab does (you know, the one displaying the entire list of tools and which has the Microsoft-esque clip art that we all complain about?) This Customize Quick Tools dialog box could really use a lot of help, bu if you can overlook it's user-exerpeience, it actually does a nice job of adding tools to your toolbar.

Customize Quick Tools

So now I have my "Mark as Checked" button to my toolbar and it is awesome! I can mark a comment as checked whenever I want, without having to dig around for it in the comments pane. If you would like to purchase this script, visit the Try67 website.

Edit 2-23-18
Adobe recently added a keyboard shortcut for "Mark Selected Comment as Checked". It is Cmd + K. Now if only they would put that information in a tooltip somewhere, instead of just letting us know through a forum reply!

Friday, January 12, 2018

How to Bypass Dropbox Automatic Synching Order

I recently switched to Dropbox for my backup storage. It was a big decision, since I have fifteen years worth of files. Literally over a million of them! I followed an article that showed the steps for How to Sync Any Folders Outside /Dropbox.

It works great and now all my files are being backed up. The problem is, I have no control over the sync order, I've read that the smaller files are being synced first. But it could take awhile before the drafts I've uploaded today are synced....

Awhile back, Dropbox added the features to upload files to a specific folder. So I decided to use that feature to upload the draft I needed to send to my client.

If you hover over any file in Dropbox, a "Share" button will display.

Click on"Share" and you'll get a dialog box where you can enter the email addresses of who you'd like to share the file with.

Type in their emails, and click "Share." Presto! You have successfully bypassed the synchronization order set by Dropbox.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

How to Get Around the Slow-Moving Acrobat Tools Pane

If you're like me, you get frustrated by the slow-moving Acrobat DC tools pane. Since they redesigned the user interface for Acrobat DC, I can now customize the tools pane on the right. Below are my most commonly used tools.

If I need a tool that's not listed in the Tools pane, I can simply search for it. That's handy!

The right-hand pane is contextual, and will display options for whatever tool you have selected.

But what if I want to quickly go back to my comments list? If seems that I would have first have to click the big X in the top right hand corner so that I can display my list of tools again. But there is another way that will save you a click! When you have a tool selected, the top left corner of Acrobat will display the Tool Icon and tool name.

Click on that tool icon or name in the top left will display all the rest of your favorite tools. If the tool you're currently using is in your favorites, it will display the rest. 

If the tool you're using is not in your favorite, it will display ALL your favorites.

So there you go. Save yourself a click and start using the list of favorites in the top left corner of Acrobat.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Use Replace Document Colors to Help Distinguish Various Files in Acrobat

In a previous post, I shared how to use page color to help distinguish various files. It is a simple trick easily accomplished in InDesign.

But what if you need the same thing, but you're working in Acrobat? Easy!

Simply go to Preferences > Accessibility > and Choose "Replace Document Colors". You can choose from one of four preset color schemes, or choose your own custom colors. Here I have simply changed preference to display the background in a light yellow.

Document Colors Replaced

It's important to note that this is an application-wide setting. So if you change it here, Acrobat will display all of your PDFs this way. If you still need to be able to view some of your PDFs in their default colors, and simply have one of them display tinted, you can open one PDF in Reader and the other in Acrobat.

Open one PDF in Reader and the other in Acrobat
But there's more to this feature than meets the eye! Acrobat has four built-in high contrast color choices.

High Contrast Color Choices

Green Text on Black

Yellow Text on Black
White Text on Black
Black Text on White

It would be wise to experiment and see which settings work best for your document, In the above images, I had both "Only change the color of black text or line art" selected. That meant the the red text didn't get change. And neither did the black bulldog, even when the surrounding background was changed to black. Here are some various combinations for changing the colors.

No Options chosen

Option 1 chosen

Options 1 and 2 Chosen

Option 2 chosen

Which settings you need will be determined by how your document was constructed. Experiment and see what works best for you!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Acrobat's Mysterious and Frustrating Hand Tool Behavior

Recently on the Adobe forums, people have been asking a couple of questions that I have been wondering myself for months. These two questions intersect at the Hand Tool, and so this post will discuss and explore several issues and finding related to the Hand Tool
  • Where the heck does the hand tool disappear to in Acrobat DC?
  • How to more easily select text that has been highlighted.

Issue #1: Hand Tool Behavior 

For years, the Hand Tool had one main function, which it handled very well: it let you grab the page and scoot it around. But some time back, Adobe decided that the Hand tool should be able to be multifunctional. They added the capability that it should also be able to select text. It seemed like a good idea on the surface, but it introduced more trouble than it's worth.

The issue it that the Hand Tool also acts as a select tool for annotations. What they changed in Acrobat DC is that they incorporated the behavior of the Selection Tool into the Hand tool, and then seemingly did away with the text selection tool. Acrobat DC does have a preference to let you use the Hand Tool to select text and images, so you can turn that on or off to suit your own preferences. and workflow.

Acrobat DC Preferences

Issue #2: Selection Tool Icon

What's so counterintuitive about this is that the behavior of the Selection Tool was incorporated into the Hand Tool, but in addition, it appears that the text selection capability was removed from the Selection Tool, but it wasn't. This is confusing because in every single other Adobe program, the black arrow will not let you select text. The black arrow is for selecting objects. And here in Acrobat DC, the icon of the Selection tool gives us no indication that the behavior of the black arrow is any different than in any of the other Adobe programs. It's only when I hovered over the tool to view the tooltip that it's true behavior was revealed. In previous iterations of Acrobat, the Selection tool had two icons: a black arrow and a cursor icon; hence, the behavior of the Selection Tool obvious. And when you wanted to select something (be it text or an object), you simply clicked on the icon that looked like that it offered function.

Acrobat DC Toolbar showing the Selection Tool

Issue #3: Where Does the Hand Tool live?

In Acrobat 9-XI, the Selection tool, as well as the Hand Tool, were both available in the dock as well as undocked. It was great! Also, notice how the selection tool icon previously included a little text cursor icon. So there was no confusion as to its behavior!

Select and Zoom Tools: Acrobat 9

Select and Zoom Tools: Acrobat XI, Docked

Select and Zoom Tools: Acrobat XI, Undocked
These tools were also available in the menu as tools you could search for and locate independently of their panels.

Select and Zoom Tools List: Acrobat XI

But then things changed in Acrobat DC...

The Hand tool is ubiquitous, and a typical user might think it wise to make is easy to find and easy to use. But no longer! That Hand tool is sometimes visible in Acrobat DC, but more often than not, it disappears. Here is the default toolbar in Acrobat DC. But all too often, the Hand Tool is not in the toolbar when I expect it to be.

Toolbar: Acrobat DC

One might think the Hand Tool would be in the same tool set it used to be: the Select and Zoom tools, but alas, no.

Select and Zoom Tools: Acrobat DC

I finally figured out what makes the Hand Tool disappear. If you right-click on the tool bar, you're presented with this pop-up, where you can quickly choose to display entire tool sets. Sounds great, right? Except that if you choose any of the first five toolsets, the hand tool disappears! The Hand Tool should never disappear! The page field is always there, no matter which toolset you choose (and seems to be excluded from being hidden), but apparently, the hand tool is not in of of those five tool sets, and so it always disappears when you choose on of them.

Disappearing Hand Tool in Acrobat DC

After a bit more digging, I discovered that the issue is that the set of controls that contain the Hand Tool gets pushed to the right whenever you display any of the other major toolsets. If your monitor is big enough, it can show all the tools, but I have a 27" monitor and I still can't display all the tools! Have you ever wondered what the little ellipses are on the right hand side of the toolbar? That's where all the tools reside that won't fit on the toolbar. And look! There's the Hand Tool!

This is where the Hand Tool is hiding!

I wish there was a better way to control and organize the tools in the toolbar. Some of the tools display you matter what, even if you don't want them to. There is no way to hide the File Tools. See how the options are grayed out? I've never once clicked on any of the File Tools; I never intend to; they just east up my screen space, but I have no way to hide them.

All File Tools are always visible!

After a bit of searching the View menu, I was able to find out in which toolset the Hand Tool is hiding, and how to make it appear again. It is under View > Show Hide > Page Controls.

View > Show/Hide > Page Controls
This user interface seems wrong to me because Page Controls should be grouped with Toolbar Items, but they're not. They have their own submenu, and Page Controls is the only item in it!

Also, from this submenu, you can either dock or undock the page controls. Below is what they looked like undocked. This is similar to how I am used to seeing them when I view a PDF in Safari. In Safari, they only appear when you hover in the correct spot on the bottom of the page. But here in Acrobat, they are always visible when undocked. And that's nice.

Page Controls: Undocked
So this was a long rabbit trail I went down just to discover an easier way to copy text that had been highlighted and to figure out to where the Hand tool keeps disappearing. Thanks for following along!

Edit 11-14-17
So apparently I didn't really figure out an easier way to copy text that had been highlighted. Here's how: just hide the comments. Easy!