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If you've never used Adobe Acrobat before, you're in for quite a pleasant experience when you learn about some of the amazing things it can do. If you've only used Acrobat to read PDF documents given to you, you'll be amazed at what can be done on the “other side”; that is, creating and editing Acrobat documents. If you've used Acrobat version 4.0.1 or older, you'll be astonished by how many new features and capabilities are included in this release. And if you've used Acrobat 5 at all, this book will guide you through its amazingly numerous options, so you can make the most out of your PDF pages.

Acrobat 5 formally declares PDF to be the document exchange format for the masses. Even better, Acrobat Reader is free to everyone with a computer running almost any current system software. So it doesn't matter if you have a Macintosh, a Windows system, an OS/2 system, or even a UNIX-based system.

What's New in Acrobat 5

  • Acrobat 5 has pumped up the PDF format. The enhanced format enables you to share the contents as well as the document itself.

  • Acrobat 5 has added more Save As file types including RTF, TIFF, JPEG, and PNG file formats. This enables easier editing for users of PDF documents.

  • Now you can truly have a secure document with Acrobat 5's security features. Password protection is now supported with 128-bit encryption.

  • You can add a digital signature to your PDF document, and ensure that no one changes the document after you sign it.

  • It's possible to view and add comments to a PDF document from your Web browser.

  • Acrobat 5 boasts better integration and color controls with other Adobe programs like Photoshop 6 and Illustrator 9.

  • Convert one Web page or an entire site to a PDF file with links.

  • You can use the Batch function to increase productivity.

The Components of Acrobat

Acrobat consists of several components, each of which is discussed in this book.

  • Acrobat Reader is the software that allows you to view PDF documents. Acrobat Reader is free and available from Adobe on their Web site, at www.adobe.com. Reader is discussed in Chapters 1 and 2.

  • Acrobat eBook Reader is also free from the Adobe Web site. It allows you to read electronic books, and annotate and search their pages. You can also lend and give away eBooks. See Chapter 3 for details.

The commercial version of Acrobat contains the following parts:

  • Acrobat is the program used to customize PDF files by editing them and adding PDF-specific features like buttons and the ability to download from the Web one page at a time.

  • Acrobat Distiller changes PostScript files into PDF files quickly and easily. See Chapter 4 for more on Distiller.

  • Acrobat PDF Writer is the print driver that generates PDF files within any application. Instead of sending your document to a printer, you create a PDF file using the PDF Writer driver.

  • Acrobat Capture is a plug-in within Acrobat that lets desktop scanner users scan in documents and convert them to PDFs on the fly. A more robust version is available as a separate product. For more on Acrobat Capture, see Chapter 12.

Macintosh and Windows Users

Acrobat was designed to be totally cross platform; the creation and editing software is available on both Macintosh and Windows systems. The resulting PDF files can be viewed on either platform using Acrobat Reader, as well as on other systems, including OS/2 and UNIX.

So, except for a few pages where “Macintosh” or “Windows” is indicated, each page and example is designed to be used on any platform the Acrobat product family works with—currently Macintosh OS 9.1 and Windows 2000. Acrobat Reader 5 features native Macintosh OS X support.

If you have a UNIX system or a different operating system that Acrobat Reader is created for, the sections on Acrobat Reader will be relevant to you, while the creation and editing sections will not be.

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