A couple months ago I updated my Adobe Reader installations to Adobe Reader DC, the latest version of the PDF reader, and I was very pleased to see the upgrades. It has several good features that I think make it much more user friendly, particularly for students using assistive technology. My son quickly learned how to use it on Windows and on the iPad, and he says that it makes managing his work easier because he is able to save his finished PDFs right into Google Drive or Classroom.
Here are my top three favorite new features:
- Fill & Sign
- Dropbox Integration
- Mobile Link
Fill & Sign
Adobe Reader has enabled form fill in for several years, but DC makes it even easier with the Fill & Sign feature. To use Fill & Sign, open a PDF file, click the Tools menu and select the Fill & Sign icon. The window will show the file with the Fill & Sign toolbar above the document. The Fill & Sign toolbar has seven buttons: Add Text, Add X, Add Check Mark, Add circle, Add line, Add dot, and Sign document.
Click the Add Text (AB) button and then click anywhere in the document to type. When you start typing, you will see four options in the text field. The large and small “As” will increase or decrease font size, respectively. The bar with four boxes creates a box form field. Click the trash can to delete the text field.
You can add check marks and Xs in documents with those form fields. You can also create circles, just select the Add circle tool, then click in the document to place it. Then you can change the size of the circle by clicking and dragging the little square handle in the lower right corner of the circle box. The line and dot tools work the same way.
On mobile tablets, it’s a little different because each time you tap the screen to create a text field, the text field pops up and the onscreen keyboard covers part of the screen. This can create challenges for students who need to frequently look back at instructions or reread text in the PDF to complete the assignment. If a student struggles with this, consider displaying the PDF on the interactive whiteboard or having a printed copy of the PDF on hand for them to look at when working on the tablet. On the plus side, Siri works in the popup text field, so students can dictate as needed, though I find that the dictation lags a little.
The Sign tool allows you to sign with a typed signature font, or hand write your signature or initials.
When you select the tool, it opens a popup window over the document where you will type, write, or upload a signature file. When you save the finished signature, you place it where it belongs in the document.
The Sign tool can also save your signature in your Adobe Cloud account, just make sure to put a check in the box in the lower left. You will be able to reuse the signature.
[NOTE: There is one caveat to using the Sign tool. Once you place the signature and save, you will not be able to edit any existing text fields. So save signing for the very last step.]
The integration of Dropbox is another great upgrade, especially for iPhone and iPad users. Apple IOS does not make it easy to access files between applications because there is no common file system (i.e. Documents folder) as you find on Android devices, so the integration allows users to open files from Dropbox in the Adobe Reader app, and to copy files into Dropbox.
To save a PDF to Dropbox, first add your Dropbox account in the file locations menu.
View a file, tap the upload button on the lower right, and then tap Open In. In the next popup, tap Copy to Dropbox.
You can also open PDF files from within Dropbox and work them in the same way as local files. All of your changes will be saved to the file in Dropbox. Tap the Edit icon and select Adobe Acrobat Reader, then allow Dropbox to open Reader at the prompt.
On a laptop or desktop, you can open the file right from Dropbox and edit it in Reader, then save your changes in Dropbox. Then you will can open the edited file on a linked mobile device.
The Mobile Link feature allows access to your recent PDF files across your mobile and desktop devices. My son finds this particularly helpful when he wants to use a laptop to work on his PDFs at home. You do need to sign into your free Adobe Cloud account and make sure to stay signed in on the devices you use. Tap the mobile button in the top right to turn on Mobile Link.
Then create and sign into your Adobe Cloud account.
I am sure that we will find more ways to use the new features in Adobe Reader DC. To download the software or to access tech support, visit the following links.