Few creatives would say that it’s fun to edit PDF documents, but it should become easier with Acrobat XI, Adobe's new release for Mac and Windows – which Adobe has announced is now available to subscribers to its Creative Cloud software-&-services bundle. Among the highlights are a new, click-and-drag tool that enables text and image editing within PDF documents.

Now, within Acrobat you can resize and rotate images, add links, bookmarks, forms, objects, and files, and edit tables. When editing text within a paragraph, it will flow without being interrupted by line breaks. Plus, there are built-in options for saving and retrieving content via Acrobat.com, Office 365, or SharePoint.

Acrobat XI offers better ingration with Microsoft Office, so you can give your clients materials you've created for them in a form they can edit or amend themselves. You can export PDFs as PowerPoint presentations, Word documents or Excel Spreadsheets, or your clients can edit PDFs directly in these tools (assuming they have a copy of Acrobat X1).

This new version of Acrobat takes the Mac platform into account in several areas that it had not previously, and a number of capabilities that used to be available only for Windows have now been extended to the Mac in the Acrobat XI Pro edition.

For example, Mac users will be able to avail themselves of quick access, open, save, check-in, check-out, and add properties features for documents stored in SharePoint document libraries. Mac users also can now convert Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files to PDF with the Create PDF from File command and Actions. Mac users can also now preview, convert, and combine Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files to PDF with the Combine Files command. They can create fillable PDF forms from existing documents, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, and create a PDF file from clipboard contents. There's also a convert Web page to Adobe PDF add-on for Firefox.

Mac-only features in Acrobat XI Pro let users create PDF files from captured screens, windows, or selections and use the ICA interface (a proprietary protocol) when scanning documents to PDF.

Adobe’s Portable Document Format tools continue to move away from their original focus on outputting your designs for print and toward document workflows for large corporations. On the off-chance that you're interested in this side of Acrobat, we've fleshed out the details below.

To enable electronic signatures that would hold up in court, Acrobat XI is integrating with EchoSign, an Adobe company specializing in eSignatures and Web contracting. (EchoSign integrated with Reader software in January.) Signing a PDF won’t take much more than typing your name within a form field, or writing it with your finger on an iPad. On Windows 8 tablets, Acrobat XI Pro can be used in Touch Mode, spreading out icons for easier navigation by fingertips. An IT admin can turn on Touch Mode remotely for an iPad user, with Citrix Receiver running Acrobat in a virtualized version of Windows.

Adobe projects that the roughly 1 percent of contracts signed on the Web will expand to 50 percent in the next couple of years.

Adobe also cites an IDC research finding that workers lose some 11 hours of productivity a week dealing with paper forms or searching for documents in various file formats and locations. And roadblocks to collaboration, such as delays in gathering approvals for important documents, eat up an average 12 hours a week.

To address such problems, Acrobat’s integration with Adobe FormsCentral is meant to streamline Web and PDF form creation and collection. You can gather forms data on any device without needing to transcribe it manually, and analyze data with quickly drawn tables and charts. The free, mobile Acrobat Reader XI will let you mark up and fill out PDF forms on a tablet or smartphone, and store them at Acrobat.com.

There are new options for packaging elements from outside documents into a PDF. Among additional new Acrobat features, there’s more flexibility for customizing sets of tools within the program's workspace. And a new Make Accessible option steps users through making PDFs friendlier for people with disabilities.

Only the £378/US$449 Acrobat XI Pro edition for Windows and Mac covers all the new features, although the Windows-only, £235/$299 Acrobat Standard does offer the new editing and signing goodies. An upgrade from Acrobat X costs £163/$199 for Pro or £111/$139 for Standard. EchoSign and FormsCentral each start at £9.52/$15 per month. The packages are expected to ship within the next month.

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