This document provides instructions for Acrobat XI. If you're using Acrobat DC, see Acrobat DC Help.

Review a PDF

When you receive an email invitation to a PDF review, the invitation typically includes the PDF as an attachment or provides a URL to the PDF. Alternatively, some invitations include a Forms Data Format (FDF) attachment. When opened, an FDF file configures your review settings and opens the PDF in Acrobat.

PDFs in a review have special features, including commenting tools and a document message bar with instructions. Use the commenting tools to add comments to the PDF and then submit them. Either publish the comments to a comment server where others can see them, or send comments as an email attachment to the review initiator.


It’s possible to receive a PDF that doesn’t include special features. If so, add your comments using tools from the Annotations and Drawing Markup panels in the Comment pane. Then save the PDF and send it back. (See Annotations and drawing markup tools overview.)

To review the PDF later, reopen it from the Tracker. Doing so ensures that your comments are added to the tracked copy of the PDF, and that the initiator receives your comments. If you don’t send or publish your comments right away, save the PDF before you close it to avoid losing your comments. Until the initiator receives your comments, they appear only in your local copy of the PDF and aren’t visible to other reviewers. For a video on the basics of reviewing, see

If you review a PDF using Acrobat 9 or earlier, or Reader 9 or earlier, some features are not available.

Join a review

  1. In your email application, open the PDF by clicking the URL or double-clicking the attachment (PDF or FDF).
  2. Do one or more of the following, if prompted:
    • Log in to with your Adobe ID and password.
    • Click Connect in the Shared Review dialog box.
    • Click OK in the Welcome To Shared Review window. This window shows the review deadline, participants, whether each reviewer has made any comments, and the comment server location.
    • Type your name, email address, company name, and job title.
  3. Save the file to a location that you can find easily, such as the desktop.
  4. Add comments to the PDF using tools in the Comment pane. To delete a comment, select it and press Delete. (You can only delete the comments that you made.)

  5. Do all of the following that apply:
    • If you’re notified that new comments from other reviewers are available, click the message. New comments appear in the PDF.
    • To find out if new comments are available from other reviewers, click the Check For New Comments button .
  6. Submit your comments by clicking Publish Comments or Send Comments To Review Initiator in the document message bar.

    When you send comments, a PDF containing your comments is sent as an email attachment to the review initiator. When you publish comments, your comments are saved to the comment server.

Options in the document message bar

The options in the document message bar depend on how the initiator set up the review and whether you can access the comment server.

For information about the different types of reviews, see About managed PDF reviews.

Check For New Comments

Prompts Acrobat to synchronize comments between the comment server and the local hard drive. If you don’t click this button, Acrobat checks for new comments every 10 minutes if the document is open and every hour if the document is closed.

Merge Comments

Copies the comments in the open PDF to your copy. This option is available only for PDFs you receive from reviewers in email-based reviews.

Publish Comments

Available only in shared reviews. Uploads your new comments to the comment server. This button is disabled if the review has ended.

Save An Archive Copy

Available only in shared reviews, when a review has ended. Saves a copy of the document with review comments to your hard drive.

Send Comments

Creates an email message addressed to the review initiator that contains the commented PDF as an attachment. This option is always available for reviewers in email-based reviews. It appears in shared reviews if the reviewer has chosen to work offline or if an attempt to connect to the comment server has failed.


An icon that displays the connected state of the comment server. The icon appears as the last attempt successful icon , the last attempt unsuccessful icon , or the attempting to connect icon . If you click the icon, a menu with additional options appears: Track Reviews opens the Tracker; Save As Archive Copy saves a copy of the PDF that is no longer connected to the review; Work Offline lets you work in offline mode, in which you can make comments but cannot publish them until you switch back to online mode. To switch to online mode, click Reconnect To Server.

Check for newly published comments

When you participate in a shared review, Acrobat synchronizes published comments on your local hard drive with the comments on the server. Acrobat notifies you when new comments are available. Because synchronization continues after the PDF is closed, you’ll continue to receive notifications.

Messages in the notification area inform you when new reviewers join the review, when updates occur (multiple reviews), when deadlines change, and when synchronization attempts fail. They also inform you when a new broadcast subscription is added in the Tracker. You can change the frequency of messages and of comment synchronization, and you can manually trigger the synchronization process.

To view new comments in a shared review, you must have access to or be able to connect to the network where the comment server is located. If you can’t connect, check the server status in the Tracker to determine the cause of the problem.

  1. Click the Check For New Comments button  in the document message bar.

Send comments in email

If you review a PDF offline or outside a firewall, or if you lose your connection to the comment server, you can send your comments in an email message.

  1. Choose File > Send File.

  2. In the Send Email dialog box, select Default Email Application, or Use Webmail and choose you webmail client from the Select menu.

  3. Click Continue, and follow the onscreen instructions.


    If the PDF exceeds the 5-MB file-size limit, Acrobat prompts you to send your comments in a Forms Data Format (FDF) file. The initiator can import this smaller file. To adjust the limit, open the Preferences dialog box and select Reviewing. Then enter the new value for Send Comments As FDF For Files Greater Than [#] MB.

Publish comments from other reviewers

When you participate in a review, you can receive comments from other reviewers. For example, if a reviewer can’t access the comment server, the reviewer can send you comments. As another example, suppose that you solicited feedback from people who weren’t initially invited to the review. Those reviewers can return a copy of the review PDF to you with their comments. By taking ownership of the comments, you can share them with everyone in the review.

  1. Open the PDF that contains comments.

  2. Do one of the following:
    • Click OK when asked if you want to publish comments for this reviewer. The published comments appear in the PDF. Your name appears in the title bar and the author’s name appears in the body of the comments, preceded by the text “On behalf of.”


    To hide “On behalf of” text, in the Preferences dialog box under Reviewing, uncheck Show “On Behalf of” text in comment when user takes ownership of comments in a shared review.

    • Click Yes when asked if you want to merge comments, or click Merge Comments in the document message bar and then click Send Comments. Add email addresses for other reviewers, as needed, and then click Send.
    • In Acrobat or Reader, open a copy of the PDF and choose Comment > Comments List > Options > Import Data File. Select a file with comments from reviewers. Add email addresses for other reviewers, as needed, and then click Send.

Only new or edited comments are published or sent.

Rejoin a review

Use the Tracker to reopen PDFs in an active review. The Tracker only displays PDFs that you’ve saved. If you didn’t save a PDF the first time you opened it, reopen the PDF from your email application.

  1. Do one of the following:
    • In Acrobat, choose Comment > Review > Track Reviews.
    • In Reader, choose View > Tracker.
  2. In the Tracker, double-click the PDF.

  3. Add new comments or edit existing comments. To delete a comment, select it and press Delete. (You can delete only comments that you made.)

    Acrobat removes deleted comments from the online PDF the next time it synchronizes comments. If you delete comments that you sent in an earlier email message, they aren’t deleted in the initiator’s document.

  4. Click Publish Comments in the document message bar.

    Only new or edited comments are published or sent.