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How to "flatten" a pdf in Adobe Acrobat X Pro

Dec 29, 2012 11:24 PM

Is there a feature in Adobe Acrobat X Pro similar to that in Bluebeam that allows the user to "flatten" the pdf? What this means is that images, text boxes and other additions to the pdf become seamlessly integrated into the pdf, guaranteeing they will display on other users' computers and when printed.

 
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  • George Johnson
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    Aug 11, 2002
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    Dec 29, 2012 11:51 PM   in reply to jmt111

    It's an option in Preflight, PDF Optimizer (Discard Objects > Flatten form fields) , and JavaScript (doc.flattenPages). The following free tool uses JavaScript: http://www.uvsar.com/projects/acrobat/flattener/

     
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    Jan 7, 2013 6:55 AM   in reply to jmt111

    It should be. In AA9, it is under PDF Fixups as "flatten annotations and form fields." Under the PDF Optimizer there is also a flattening tool as George mentioned. The locations of these tools is different in AAX than in AA9, but they should be there.

     

    You should also be able to search for "flatten" in the help file (all 280 pages or so).

     
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    Jan 13, 2013 10:42 AM   in reply to jmt111

    Bill is talking about the Fixup in Preflight.

     

    Tools > Print Production > Preflight > Single Fixups

     
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    Jan 26, 2013 8:34 AM   in reply to jmt111

    You need to add the Print Production menu to Tools by clicking the tiny icon just under the Comment button, and then tick the Print Production item in the menu that pops up.

     

    Snap1.png

     
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  • George Johnson
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    Jan 27, 2013 1:02 AM   in reply to jmt111

    Click on the Tools button and it should be there.

     
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    Jan 27, 2013 11:18 AM   in reply to jmt111

    Did you click that icon I pointed out before?

     
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  • George Johnson
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    Jan 29, 2013 11:34 AM   in reply to jmt111

    Use the flatten annotations and form fields.

     
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    Jan 30, 2013 11:25 AM   in reply to jmt111

    Did you try Selecting All then use the Flattening?

     
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  • George Johnson
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    Jan 30, 2013 9:03 AM   in reply to jmt111

    That's just because Acrobat allows such editing. The image (most likely) is part of the regular page contents, and if you want to prevent someone with Acrobat from being able to edit the regular page contents, just apply standard password security with the appropriate restrictions.

     
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  • George Johnson
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    Aug 11, 2002
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    Feb 4, 2013 11:38 AM   in reply to jmt111

    Did you open the resulting PDF and see if the fields/annotations were flattened? BTW, I just tried with Preflight (Acrobat 9) and it made all of the check boxes selected when it flattened them, at least with the form I tested it with. You might want to use one of the alteratives.

     

    Regarding "Select All", what difference were you expecting it to make?

     
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    Feb 10, 2013 6:43 AM   in reply to jmt111

    If you are flattening comments, then the comments Panel will be empty.

    If you're flattening form fields, you won't see them when you switch to Forms Edit mode.

    jmt111 wrote:

     

    How would I know if they were flattened?

     

    You speak of flattening 'images', which in normal circumstances are neither comments nor form fields. I don't think you understand what's happening:

     

    • Items on a page (text, images, graphics, etc.) are always separate objects, and have a stacking order. Acrobat can select, move and edit each one but Adobe Reader cannot.
    • Annotations (links, comments and markup) and form fields are not part of the page structure and can be added/edited/removed by Acrobat and Adobe Reader. They live on top of everything else.

     

    'Flattening' converts annotations and form fields into page objects, but it does NOT combine the entire page into a single 'thing'. You'll still be able to select and move them in Acrobat, but not in Reader.

     
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    Feb 12, 2013 5:39 AM   in reply to jmt111

    The real complication in Acrobat is that "flattening" refers to at least three different things.

    * Flattening transparency

    * Flattening layers

    * Flattening form fields and comments (annotations)

     

    Since a signature is a comment or a form field, it sounds as if you want the last of these. One way to approach this is the preflight option described above. Have you tried it (Analyse and Fix is the button, yes).

     
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    Feb 12, 2013 5:42 AM   in reply to Test Screen Name

    Further: it sounds as if this signature is nothing but a picture - no digital signature stuff at all. There may in that case be different ways to add the graphic so that it goes straight into the page contents, and isn't a comment.

     

    So, how do you add it now?

     
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    Feb 20, 2013 4:50 AM   in reply to Test Screen Name

    I am looking to achieve something similar to jmt111.  I have a document that i am adding comments to, specifically an oval, an arrow, and a text box.  I have tried to use the Prelight>PDF fixups>Flatten annotations and form fields.  However whenever I Analyse and Fix it messes up one of the comments.  Sometimes it moves the oval, or the arrow and sometimes it will shrink and move the text box.  Is there a step I am missing? Or a setting that is off that may be causing this?

     

    My goal is just to be able to "flatten" any markups to the file and I am trying to achieve this because if I do not "flatten" the comments they seem to dissappear when sent to someone else via email even though they are using adobe acrobat as well.

     
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    Feb 20, 2013 6:06 AM   in reply to kellin.vellenoweth

    Do your annotations change shape with the tool linked in the first reply?

     
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    Feb 20, 2013 6:11 AM   in reply to Dave Merchant

    I was hoping to avoid using a 3rd party plug-in.

     
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    Feb 20, 2013 6:30 AM   in reply to kellin.vellenoweth

    It's not a plugin, it's a script. Everything remotely non-standard in Acrobat is done with scripting.

     
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    Feb 20, 2013 6:34 AM   in reply to Dave Merchant

    Dave,

     

    I downloaded it and gave it a shot.  It seems to work, nothing moved or was resized. 

     

    Thank you.

     

    -Any thoughts why the preflight didn't work correctly?

     
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    Feb 26, 2013 9:16 AM   in reply to kellin.vellenoweth

    I am having exactly the same problem --- I insert a stamp of my written signature and I insert a text date into a PDF but when I try to flatten the file, the stamp and the date get moved up by about an inch.

     

    This did not happen with Acrobat 10.....I am so frustrated with this new version which I am finding to be far more difficult to use than my old version.

     
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    Feb 26, 2013 11:12 AM   in reply to jmt111

    The way I check is to reopen the saved PDF file with Preview (or some other PDF reader).

     

    I ended up downloading the script mentioned earlier and it works fine, although Adobe X still crashes sometimes.

     
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    Feb 26, 2013 12:45 PM   in reply to kellin.vellenoweth

    No, but I'll look into it. There's clearly something going wrong as two people are reporting the same effect.

    kellin.vellenoweth wrote:

     

    -Any thoughts why the preflight didn't work correctly?

     
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    Feb 26, 2013 12:47 PM   in reply to jmt111

    Before flattening there will be an entry in the Comments Panel for your stamp - after there won't be any.

     

    The borders are expected now that the stamp has become a page object - when you select a page object in Acrobat you get the thin blue border, when you select an annotation you get the adjustment handles with patterned borders.

    jmt111 wrote:

    After adding the signature, I click the Analyse and Fix button. I am not sure if it works because I don’t know how to tell if it was flattened. To me, it looks the same both before and after.  The shape does not change. The only thing that changes after I click Analyse and Fix is the images I added get a thin blue border around them and become shaded when I click on them (before flattening, they get a thin blue border with squares on each corner to drag, change size, etc.).

     
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    Mar 2, 2013 5:12 AM   in reply to Dave Merchant

    When I flatten form fields (text fields), they become disabled (no longer editable), and they print. However, if the PDF is then opened in Illustrator, the text of the flattened fields is absent. I've not been able to devise a workaround.

     

    So it seems that flattening form fields does not really convert their content to "normal" page elements.Or am I missing something?

     

    My present interest in this is:

     

    1. I have a set of wiring diagrams drawn in Illustrator, with a few callouts and labels scattered about, in English.
    2. Save as PDFs.
    3. Open in Acrobat. Place Form Text Fieldi in front of text elements that need to be translated to Spanish.
    4. Save as Enabled PDF. Send the set of PDFs  to another department to have the callouts translated in the form fields, using Reader.
    5. Open the PDFs in Acrobat and flatten them. (Or, include a scripted button in the PDFs to enable the Reader using translator to flatten them.)
    6. Open the flattened PDFs in Illustrator to adjust the Spanish text objects as needed. (But they are not there.)

     

     

    JET

     
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    Mar 2, 2013 5:29 AM   in reply to JETalmage

    They really are normal page elements. However, I think you're hitting the limitations of Illustrator. As some Adobe folk are font of warning, it isn't a universal PDF editor.

     

    So I really can't recommend the planned workflow.

     

    To be honest, I hear constantly from people who have to translate who think PDF is a pretty neat way to manage translation, and especially to avoid everyone having the same tools. They almost always fail or give up. Your solution is interesting and radical, but I think even more dangerous...

     

    The old tradition of getting all the strings into Excel and having them translated is a good one. A key part of a well managed translation process is having programmers to do as much magic as possible in getting the strings from where they are easy to translate back into the original application.

     
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    Mar 2, 2013 6:19 AM   in reply to JETalmage

    Using the flattener script from Post 1, the flattened text field survives the trip. Yesterday, I could not get this to occur using my own flattener script stored in a button. I'll be looking into this further.

     

    PDF Layers do not survive the round-trip. I'll have to devise a workaround for that. Initial hope was to have English on one Layer, Spanish on another. A layered PDF can be saved from Illustrator, but Illustrator cannot open a layered PDF with layers intact, unless the PDF was saved with Preserve Illustrator Editability (meaning the PDF contains a copy of the whole thing as native Illustrator content), in which case the flattened form content is not present when opened in Illustrator.

     

    It's always something....

     

    JET

     
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    Mar 2, 2013 7:34 AM   in reply to JETalmage

    Round-tripping a file with OCGs (layers) is always a pain; but if you want the languages on different layers, just separate them out when the file is first imported into Illustrator. It may not be happy importing OCGs but it's fine exporting them.

     
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    Mar 2, 2013 7:43 AM   in reply to JETalmage

    Ah, good point. "Preserve Illustrator editability" is a wonderful thing because it stores the whole Illustrator file hidden in the PDF. Perfect editing in Illustrator. However, Illustrator reads only the stored hidden file, so if you are trying to make it pick up edits made to the PDF, it won't happen.

     
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    Apr 9, 2013 6:23 AM   in reply to jmt111

    I'm a complete noob.  Can you do this in Acrobat Pro 8?  I have created several forms, but I need to lock down the results once they've been filled in so that the contents can't be changed.  Will locking the forms down when signing do it?

     
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