In Pictures: 8 cool features in Adobe Acrobat XI

The new, 11th version of Acrobat sports a number of new wrinkles

  • The new, 11th version of Acrobat sports a number of new wrinkles, including more ways to edit PDFs, as well as a few cloud services.

  • Editing text The biggest improvement in Acrobat XI is that you can fully edit text in PDFs. When you add or delete text, the paragraph it’s in will reflow automatically. (Many PDF editors lack text reflow, resulting in mangled looking paragraphs due to large gaps where you’ve deleted words.) Acrobat XI also lets you change text formatting (bold, italics, underscore) and its font, and the alignment of paragraphs. We found this text editing tool pretty sufficient -- comparable to the basic functions of a standalone text editor. So, if you need to do simple changes, you don’t need to go back to the application, like Word, that you used to create the original document.

  • Resizing, moving and adjusting images You can edit graphics in PDFs. They can be resized or moved, and minor adjustments (cropping, flipping, rotating) can be applied. However, if an image is set within a paragraph, the surrounding text won’t automatically reflow should you move or resize it. (If changes to an image you require are great, you may be better off going back to the app used to create the PDF document.) No application can let you enlarge an image without losing its sharpness, which is most noticeable with a photograph, of course. But we wondered if Acrobat XI would do some technical voodoo on line art as you magnify its size, but such images still looked blocky along their edges.

  • Combine multiple PDFs and image files into one file Acrobat XI lets you combine PDF, HTML, TXT, Microsoft Office files (in *.docx, *.pptx, *.xlsx), images (which include BMP, JPG, PNG and TIFF formats), and even multimedia (such as Adobe Flash audio/video, MP3 audio and MP4 video); rearrange the sequential order of their pages; and then export your mashup into a single PDF.

  • Export PDF files to PowerPoint Available only in the Pro version, Acrobat XI now lets you export a PDF into a PowerPoint file (in *.pptx format). (Exporting to Excel and Word was introduced in prior versions of Acrobat.) The application converts the text and images in a PDF into separate elements that you can manipulate in PowerPoint.

  • Content protection from copy-and-paste You can apply password-protection to your PDF that stops someone from highlighting its text or images and copying it to their computer’s clipboard. We found this security scheme worked when viewing PDFs in not only Adobe Reader but also third-party PDF viewers like Foxit Reader. You can’t even load such a protected PDF into Acrobat XI itself to edit it -- only to view it. However, this doesn’t prevent someone from using a screenshot program to snap an image of a page.

  • Cloud storage Acrobat XI has direct access to cloud storage on Upon signing up for a user account, you can save up to 5GB of files on the service for free. (Adobe sells larger storage space if you need more.) Your files can be shared with others, whether they also have an account or not. This is convenient, especially on your smartphone or tablet to access your cloud drive, but it would have been better if Acrobat XI also provided functionality within it with other cloud storage services (e.g. Dropbox, Google Docs, SkyDrive).

  • Distribute fillable PDFs or web forms A second reason to have an account on is so you can use Adobe’s new tool and online service, FormsCentral, to create and distribute fillable PDFs, or host a web form that people can fill out through a standard web browser. Adobe lets you use FormsCentral for free if you distribute only one fillable PDF or put online one web form, either of which can receive up to 50 responses. The company sells subscriptions that increase the allowable number of fillable PDFs or web forms you can have active at once, as well as the number of responses they can have.

  • Online digital signature gathering Another online service that premieres with Acrobat XI, which you can launch within it: EchoSign lets you distribute your PDF to people for their digital signature approval, keeping track of who signs and when they do it. Like FormsCentral, Adobe’s primary purpose for including this in Acrobat XI is to make money by selling it to you as a subscription. (You get a free try-out for 30 days.)

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