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.