Saturday, January 8, 2011

How to Synchronize Acrobat Checkmarks Between Your Computers

I like to use Acrobat commenting tools. Okay, it's safe to say that I love Acrobat commenting tools. Sticky notes, highlighters, stamps, text blocks...they make me sigh with happiness. In my daily workflow, I highlight the PDF documents that my clients send me, then I check things off as I work through the project.

At the end of the project, I Sort by Checkmark Status to make sure I didn't miss anything.

That all worked fine and good until I got a laptop. Then, I could work anywhere. I wasn't constrained to just working at my desk. Now I could work in my living room, in my kitchen, on airplanes, on the I-5 while my husband drove us to California for a family vacation, and so on. And with my 1 TB travel drive, I was truly mobile! The only problem was, my PDF checkmarks don't transfer from one computer to another. So suddenly, in the middle of a project, my Sort by Checkmark Status (upon which I had come to rely so heavily) was no longer as available as it once had been. Any checkmarks I made on my desktop were not visible on my laptop, and vice-versa. How sad. (Tear dripping down cheek...)

I had run into a similar problem a couple of years ago, when a coworker and I were both making checkmarks in the same PDF document. I had no easy way to see what was Completed (checked off), and what was yet to be completed (unchecked). We had to resort to "Sort by Status by Person."

Sort by Status by Person, in theory (I suppose) could be useful. If people in a workgroup had a certain selection of tasks to do, and there was never any overlap in job function between workers, and you just want to which co-worker has completed which tasks, then Sort by Status by Person would be useful. But I never need to know who has completed which tasks. Being ever efficiency-minded, I just want to know whether or not the tasks are all complete. That's why I use "Sort by Checkmark Status." And besides, the "Set Status" takes about 4 clicks, but making a checkmark only takes one click. One click sounds better to me than four clicks.

Well, a few months ago, I started using Acrobat Shared Review with one of my clients. While working on a shared review PDF one day on my laptop, I discovered that I could see checkmarks that I made from my desktop. This has to do with the fact that Acrobat on both my laptop and my desktop were set up to have the same user ID in

So now, whenever I am working on a project that I know will be split between my laptop and my desktop, I do a Shared Review, and I invite myself.

Quick confession, a couple of years ago when I first discovered the limitations of Sort by Checkmark Status when used in a workgroup, I sent a fairly harsh feature request to the nice people at Adobe, chastising them for not warning me that I wouldn't be able to see checkmarks that other users made...Well, it turns out the Acrobat team actually provided a such a warning the very first time I made a checkmark. And in my haste, I clicked "Don't Show Again." And so, to whoever got my harshly worded feature request riddled with exclamation points, I am sorry.

Edit: 9-13-918
If you need an easier way to create and manage checkmarks in your PDFs, check out my article on Bluebeam Revu. It's an amazing program designed specifically to meet the needs of users in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction. Revu's checkmarks are not user specific; meaning that if you make a checkmark I can see it, and if I make a checkmark, you can see it.


  1. Hi there, I have exactly the same problem, but as this is my work computer, I wasn't the first and only user. As you mentioned in your "confession", I think the previous person working on this computer may have done the same by clicking the "Don't show again" box. Do you have any idea how to switch this back on again?

  2. Preferences > General > Press the button that says "Reset All Warnings."