Acrobat Preferences

Acrobat-Pro is only ready to use in the prepress stage when the necessary Plug-ins have been installed and the basic settings for the Plug-ins and Acrobat-Pro have been set. The aim of this chapter is to highlight presets/settings that make practical sense for the user. Pay particular attention to the Page Display settings.

The default settings can be changed under Mac OS X using Acrobat > Preferences > General or [CMD]+[,] or when using Windows under Edit > Preferences or by pressing [Ctrl]+[K].

1. General

The General category is used to set the behavior of Acrobat when starting the program as well as basic tool settings and how warnings are handled.

Figure 1: Below we see the recommended settings under the General tab.

Acrobat General Settings

The following changes should be made:

  • Activate the option Use single-key accelerators to access tools [1]. This allows you to select tools by pressing shortcuts.
  • Deactivate the option Create links from URLs. This automatically creates web links that were not created in Acrobat in the PDF document and displays them as clickable links.
  • Activate the Make Hand Tool Select text & images option. This allows you to select text in a PDF document using the Hand tool as well as the Text and Images selection tool. This is helpful because you can immediately see whether it is editable text or text that has been converted to outlines.
  • Deactivate the Make Hand Tool read articles option. Articles are not relevant for prepress operations.
  • Activate the option Make Hand Tool use mouse-wheel zooming (optional). This zooms in and out with the scroll wheel. You can then use the scroll wheel to scroll through the document only by holding down the [Alt] key.
  • Activate the option Make Select tool select images before text [2]. This changes the order in which objects are selected with the Selection tool. As this option is a matter of taste, you must decide yourself if it is necessary.
  • Deactivate the Show Home screen when all documents are closed option [3]. From the splash screen, you can quickly access the most recently used PDF files and frequently used functions. In addition, the lower part of the window displays the latest tips and information from Adobe.
  • If you do not want additional information from Adobe to be displayed, you must deactivate the option Show me messages when I launch Adobe Acrobat [4].

2. Documents

In the Documents category, make the following changes as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: The recommended settings for the Documents tab.

Adobe Acrobat Documents tab
  • Enabling the Restore last view settings when reopening documents option [5] automatically opens documents at the size last displayed in the previous session. We recommend that you do not enable this setting.
  • Disable the Open cross-document links in the same window option. This would close the current document and open the linked document in the same window.
  • Select the Allow layer state to be set by user information option. This allows prepress staff to modify and save PDF files with layers in terms of layer properties. If this option is disabled, layers that are set to Never visible and Always printable, for example, will never be displayed, but will always be printed. The user would therefore no longer be able to change this setting, which is needed for prepress operations.
  • Deactivate the option Allow documents to hide menu bar, toolbars and window controls [6]. This can bypass instructions in PDF documents that hide the menu bar, toolbar, and window controls on opening. To show the menu bar, this shortcut can be very useful [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[M].
  • Set the value for temporary storage of PDF files under the option Automatically save document changes to temporary file every: Change this value to a lower time interval in order to minimize data loss resulting from Acrobat crashes.
  • Change View Documents in PDF/A Mode [7] to Never. If the Only for PDF/A documents option is selected, you cannot make any changes to open PDF/A files. This is problematic because PDF files can be both PDF/X and PDF/A compliant at the same time. A corresponding message appears below the toolbar when opening a PDF/A document.

All other settings are optimally adjusted. Don't be alarmed by the "Save as" option optimized for Fast Web Display, as this only places the table of contents of the PDF file at the beginning of the PDF file structure.

3. Page Display

This category tends to hide settings that are particularly important for specific prepress operations.

Figure 3: The recommended settings under the Page Display tab.

  • Deactivate the Use local fonts option [8]. This prevents access to the system fonts. If fonts are missing in a PDF file, they will not be displayed correctly but will be substituted. This makes it easier to detect errors visually in PDF files with regard to missing fonts.
  • Deactivate the option Enhance thin lines [9]. Acrobat displays hairlines much thicker in a PDF file (when this option is activated), resulting in a visible difference between the display on the monitor and the print output.
  • If necessary, activate the option Show art, trim & bleed boxes [10]. This displays the PDF boxes in the form of red, green and blue guides. When this option is activated, objects that project beyond the final format can be detected more quickly.
  • Activate the Always show document page size option [11]. Acrobat users will appreciate this option, as otherwise the page size is not displayed until the cursor is in the lower left corner of the document. Note that the page size is always the size of the CropBox and not the size of the final format (TrimBox).
  • With the Use Overprint Preview [12] option, select Always instead of Only for PDF/X files. This ensures that elements in the PDF file that are overprinted are always displayed as they would appear in the output. 
  • Always activate Working CMYK [13] under the option Default Transparency Blending Color Space. This option has only been available since Acrobat XI Pro and is unfortunately set to Working RGB by default (for prepress). Please note that this would create RGB objects by default if you reduced the transparency in Acrobat Pro.

4. Checking your settings

If you have selected these settings correctly, the Display Settings Alert under the Preflight panel will confirm those settings with a green checkmark.

Figure 4: The Display Settings Alert dialog appears when selected using the Show Display Warnings option.

Adobe Acrobat Preflight: Display Settings Alert

How to select Show Display Warnings

You can access this dialog by opening the Preflight tool from the Tools panel and then selecting the Show Display Warnings command from the Option drop-down menu in the Preflight dialog.

Figure 5: The Show Display Warnings dialog is located under the Options drop-down menu of the Preflight panel.