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Adobe Acrobat X: Adding Description Fields to Multiple PDFs

Yesterday, I found myself in the undesirable situation of having just created 50+ PDFs that were ready to be sent to the client, only to realize that I forgot to enter the description fields… on all of them! (If you are not familiar with description fields, check out Adobe Acrobat X: Adding Description Fields to Document Properties.)

The files were all articles within one large FrameMaker document, and needed the exact same fields. I could have sighed (read: cursed), returned to FrameMaker, entered the File Info into the book document, and recreated all of the PDFs, but it seemed like a good time to try out the new Actions Wizard in Adobe Acrobat X Professional. Turned out to be pretty darn easy to retrofit all the files with their description fields. And even better, I now have the action ready to go, in case I make the same mistake again.

Here’s what I did:

  1. In Acrobat X Professional, I started by opening the Actions panel with View > Tools > Action Wizard. (On a Mac, you have to have a file open to access the panels.)
    Adobe Acrobat X: The new Actions panel
  2. I chose Create New Action from the top of the panel.
  3. This opens up a dialog box that makes things very easy by breaking actions down into four simple steps: 1.) Start with; 2.) Steps; 3.) Save to; and 4.) Save the action.
    Adobe Acrobat X: The Actions Wizard
  4. Since all of my PDFs were sitting in a single folder, I began by choosing Start with: A Folder on My Computer, and navigated to the folder. (In this example, it’s html docs:pdfs:.)
  5. Next, I moved to Steps. A new action begins with the instruction to “Add steps from the Panels on the Left.” I opened the Content panel on the left side and selected Add Document Description. This adds the step into the right column (shown above with a blue background.)
  6. If I wanted each description to be unique within each PDF, I could have selected the check box for Prompt User, and had the opportunity to enter the fields individually when I ran the action. In my case, I wanted all the fields to be the same, so I left it unchecked. Instead, I clicked the box under Options to enter the description fields for all of the files, and then clicked OK:
    Adobe Acrobat X: Adding Document Description fileds to multiple documents
    If you are creating actions for others, you can add optional instruction steps. Since this action was a.) for me, and b.) just one step, I decided not to bother.
  7. Next, I needed to tell Acrobat where to save the updated PDFs, and I chose Save to: Same Folder Selected at Start and Overwrite Existing Files. (That may not have been the smartest choice, but I knew I could recreate the PDFs from FrameMaker in a matter of minutes if I messed things up. As a general rule, work on copies of your files!)
  8. Finally, I was ready to save the action and give it a try. I clicked on Save, gave the file a name and description, and clicked on Save again.
    Adobe Acrobat X: Saving a new Action with a name and description

The action appeared in my Actions Panel, and even better, worked like a charm on all 50+ files when I clicked it. From a production standpoint, it would be better to add the fields into the source files, so that they are there each time the PDFs are created. But, as my first foray into Acrobat X Actions, I was quite happy with the results!

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