Adobe Acrobat XI review

Slick design, improved document conversion, and stable workflow continues to keep Adobe's flagship doc editor at the top.

Developing and promoting PDF (Portable Document Format) files for over 20 years, Adobe Acrobat has constantly been feeling the pressure of raising the bar for its signature document-management software. Even after 11 versions, Adobe Acrobat XI shows that Adobe continues to advance the process for creating and managing PDF files.

For users who don't often handle or view PDF files, or fail to see the difference between PDF editors, creators, and word processors, here's the breakdown: Adobe Acrobat focuses on giving users control over formatting document features and design, whereas word processors focus primarily on the writing process and the content of the text. When editing text, Acrobat marks text bodies, images, and ordered/unordered lists with a clear outline to let users manipulate text and make corrections with ease.

With so much recent emphasis on ribbons that span horizontally, Adobe's new tool sidebar was a surprising refreshment of the UI. Acrobat's primary tools reside in collapsible menus on the right, grouped by various functions--editing content, pages, adding objects and interactive elements, and protective measures. When it comes to editing the document layout, as opposed to the content itself, having a side column definitely felt more natural; it enables users to treat document elements like objects, much like the workflow of editing images in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom.

Standard text tools like font, alignment, and wrapping are all available when editing text. In addition, users who have Adobe accounts (which are required to download trials) can also utilize Adobe's cloud features to upload and access documents from other devices.

Adobe Acrobat excels as a slick and snappy document editor, and it is certainly worth the upgrade if you're already a current owner of their previous versions. However, recommending this program depends on the frequency and type of your PDF activity. If you're only interested in simple conversion of word processor docs, look elsewhere: modern word processors already include built-in converters for PDF. However, if you're going the opposite direction (like changing complex PDF files to Word as an example) and want to create interactive forms, export PDFs to PowerPoint, or employ more flexible formatting, Acrobat XI provides a impressively arranged arsenal of document-management and editing tools. It's Adobe's best editor yet.

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