PDF In-Depth

Possible alternative to Acrobat for Mac users

September 05, 2011



Learning how to manipulate PDFs is critical if you want to efficiently capture and process digital information. And while there are many tools to manipulate PDFs I tend to favor using Adobe Acrobat. Why buy separate tools that only do a few things? If you're serious about PDF manipulation just get Acrobat and be done with it.

On the other hand, Acrobat is expensive. The Professional version costs over $400, and there is no Standard version for the Mac. I believe that every law firm should have at least one copy of Professional (to do bates-stamping and redaction). But for wide deployment, Standard is good enough.

So what's a Mac-using law office supposed to do?

I recommend PDFPenPro, which does almost all of the things that Acrobat Professional does (including bates-stamping and redaction) for only $99, which is a fourth of the cost. PDFPen comes in a less expensive version, PDFPen, which costs only $60, and does pretty much all of the things that PDFPenPro does. It doesn't allow you to create or edit bookmarks, though, so I would just get the Pro version for $40 more.

The bates-stamping function of PDFPenPro isn't suitable for law firm level, but it works as a rudimentary tool. For example, you can't specify where the bates-number will appear, nor can you specify that first bates-number will be something other than 1.

The splitting function in PDFPenPro won't let you split documents by bookmarks, something that's useful when you are breaking up a large scan into individual documents.

Creating a signature stamp with a transparent background is a cinch in PDFPenPro, and apply the signature is easier than Acrobat. So that's one area where PDFPenPro outperforms Acrobat.

In general, I find PDFPenPro to be snappier and easier to deal with than Acrobat. The user-interface is intuitive and streamlined. Acrobat seems to have too many features, and then makes many of them hard to get to (especially Acrobat X). So, if you're a Mac lawyer I highly recommend that you check out PDFPenPro.

It's free to try for a limited period, but the PDFs you save will be embedded with a company log until you pay for the license. If you get a copy of this program you might want to spend an extra $10 and get this e-book manual called Take Control of PDFPen 5.0, by Michael Cohen.

This piece originally appeared on PDFforLawyers.com, and has been reproduced with permission.

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