Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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Acrobat Professional 7




































Acrobat Quick Steps





TV- B- Gone

June 2005, Week 2 -- Acrobatics

   Sending a document in PDF has become standard. It stands for "Portable Document Format" and that way all the typefaces and layouts are preserved. There's no better way and nobody does it with more flips and tricks than Adobe, who, after all, invented it.

   The new "Adobe Acrobat 7 Professional" is $449 and awesome. It's a wee bit expensive but remember, we're talking "professional" here; the regular version is $299.

   With either version you can email documents for review and the recipient can make comments, highlight passages, add a digital signature and finally stamp it "approved." Every PDF is fully searchable. Using the standard version, both parties must have a copy of that software, but with the professional version the recipient only needs Acrobat Reader 7, which is a free download.

   The professional version can handle huge AutoCAD drawings and plans, schematic diagrams made with Visio and timelines drawn with Microsoft Project. Most impressive of all, Acrobat 7 Professional can turn a 3D drawing or photograph into a PDF and the transmitted image can then be zoomed and rotated, the same as the original.

   New to both versions is the "PDF Organizer." You can click on a whole folder in Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express and convert all the email into one PDF file, which can then be sent intact like any other file. The file can be searched by clicking on tabs for sender name, date, topic or keyword. The organizer will also show a list of all PDF files on your computer.

   Finally, both versions need only the click of your mouse to make a PDF file out of just about anything on the screen. You can click on a web page, for example, and you make a PDF copy that can be emailed or stored. This feature produced the only flaw, slight one, we found in the program: We tried it on our own web site home page and it did not capture it accurately. But try it yourself: you can download a free trial Acrobat 7 Professional at

A gasp from the crowd

   What did capture and preserve the formatting of our web site as a PDF was FinePrint's "pdfFactory," which is free.

   It also comes in a regular or professional version and the "free" part needs some further explanation. The free version puts a small tagline at the bottom of each page, saying the document was created with pdfFactory. It's unobtrusive but it's there. Otherwise, the regular version of pdfFactory costs $40, the professional version $100, from We've written about this program before and we really like it.

   Another flier in the ring is "nitroPDF," $99 from Arts PDF

   They have a nice comparison chart showing that feature for feature their $99 program is the same as Adobe's $299 program. Unfortunately, in practice this turned out not to be the case. In copying text or graphics from the Internet or a Microsoft Word document, Nitro didn't do nearly as good a job as Adobe. With "Acrobat" the text came into the PDF in a box that can be positioned anywhere in the document. With Nitro the text came in as a huge block, in the wrong place, and we could'nt move it.

   As with Adobe's Acrobat 7, Nitro has a free trial version. The Nitro free trial is something of a trial to use, however: "Nitro PDF Trial" is stamped across every page in huge dark letters. They even have this on the user manual, which makes it exceedingly difficult to read.

   On the plus side, if you buy it you get a lot (but not all) of the features of Acrobat 7, regular version, for a lower price. As with Acrobat, you can password protect your PDF and paste sticky note comments for others to read. You can use a forms tool to create fields that can be filled out by the recipient on the screen.


   "Adobe Acrobat 7 Quick Steps," by Matthews and Cronan; $17 from

   This is the latest in Orborne-McGraw/Hill's most excellent "Quick Step" series, which have one or more color illustrations on every page, showing you just what you should be seeing on the screen as you learn a programs's features. Acrobat 7 is a large, complex program and this book is great.

That TV's a goner

   Here's something for your inner prankster. It's "TV-B-Gone," a tiny key-chain device that turns off just about any TV set. You aim it at the television and hold down the button for about 30 seconds. There's no sound or flashing light to indicate anything is happening but after what seems like forever but is really only half minute, the television set goes off.

   Imagine the fun and excitement when you aim it at a big set in a sports bar or your friend's entertainment den? Try to pick a crucial moment when the game is on the line. Be sure to wear your track shoes. You can find this devilish device at; it's $15.

Readers can search several years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at and Joy Schwabach at