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Review: Adobe Acrobat Pro DC's electronic signatures are its killer app

Alan Stafford | April 8, 2015
Acrobat and the new Document Cloud service go far beyond what other PDF utilities do, but you now have to pay a subscription for the best features.

Acrobat's interface has been updated significantly on the desktop application and the mobile applications, and the Document Cloud service is featured prominently. The Home screen on all of them shows you a menu of available documents stored in the cloud or locally. The versions share many features, with the notable but understandable exception of OCR (most phones can't perform the processing required by OCR, though Adobe says that it may add that feature to the mobile versions in the future).

When you open a PDF in the desktop version of Acrobat Pro DC, you'll see a large tools menu on the right side of the window; the tools are similar to Acrobat XI's, but the pane and the icons are larger. After you select a tool, a Tools dropdown menu appears, with options, and the right-side tools menu disappears. I'd rather use the dropdown menu all the time, but that's not an option. You can't set Acrobat not to show the large right-side pane on startup. If you don't want to see it, you must hide it every time you open a PDF. The left-side Navigation bar no longer appears, though, unless the PDF you're opening has bookmarks, signatures, or layers.

Portable, and mobile, too
On a smartphone--Android or iOS--you can use your phone's camera to capture an image and convert it to a PDF. On an iPhone 6, processing a 5MB image took about a minute. When you open it on a desktop, you can use a new feature called Enhance Scans, which is like an auto-everything image editing function with almost no options. Adobe intends for you to use it scan store receipts, enhance them, and then store them in the cloud. It's supposed to correct lighting and color, and it'll even de-skew, straighten, and crop an image. The de-skewing, straightening, and cropping worked pretty well for me, but it blew out the highlights on a couple of the receipts I captured. Your success will depend on lighting (and your phone's camera quality, of course).

You can perform text recognition (OCR) from the Enhance Scans tools section, but if you intend to edit that text, then you should simply use the Edit PDF tool, which will perform an OCR scan automatically once you select the tool. This is a crucial component of what I think is the most impressive of Acrobat's new features: While Acrobat XI could recognize text and, if you attempted to edit it, try to match it up to a font on your system, Acrobat DC looks at text glyphs and recreates the font--"flaws and all," says Adobe. That means font size, tracking, leading, shading, and much more.


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