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Adobe PDF conversion settings

  1. Acrobat User Guide
  2. Introduction to Acrobat
    1. Access Acrobat from desktop, mobile, web
    2. What's new in Acrobat
    3. Keyboard shortcuts
    4. System Requirements
  3. Workspace
    1. Workspace basics
    2. Opening and viewing PDFs
      1. Opening PDFs
      2. Navigating PDF pages
      3. Viewing PDF preferences
      4. Adjusting PDF views
      5. Enable thumbnail preview of PDFs
      6. Display PDF in browser
    3. Working with online storage accounts
      1. Access files from Box
      2. Access files from Dropbox
      3. Access files from OneDrive
      4. Access files from SharePoint
      5. Access files from Google Drive
    4. Acrobat and macOS
    5. Acrobat notifications
    6. Grids, guides, and measurements in PDFs
    7. Asian, Cyrillic, and right-to-left text in PDFs
  4. Creating PDFs
    1. Overview of PDF creation
    2. Create PDFs with Acrobat
    3. Create PDFs with PDFMaker
    4. Using the Adobe PDF printer
    5. Converting web pages to PDF
    6. Creating PDFs with Acrobat Distiller
    7. Adobe PDF conversion settings
    8. PDF fonts
  5. Editing PDFs
    1. Edit text in PDFs
    2. Edit images or objects in a PDF
    3. Rotate, move, delete, and renumber PDF pages
    4. Edit scanned PDFs
    5. Enhance document photos captured using a mobile camera
    6. Optimizing PDFs
    7. PDF properties and metadata
    8. Links and attachments in PDFs
    9. PDF layers
    10. Page thumbnails and bookmarks in PDFs
    11. Action Wizard (Acrobat Pro)
    12. PDFs converted to web pages
    13. Setting up PDFs for a presentation
    14. PDF articles
    15. Geospatial PDFs
    16. Applying actions and scripts to PDFs
    17. Change the default font for adding text
    18. Delete pages from a PDF
  6. Scan and OCR
    1. Scan documents to PDF
    2. Enhance document photos
    3. Troubleshoot scanner issues when scanning using Acrobat
  7. Forms
    1. PDF forms basics
    2. Create a form from scratch in Acrobat
    3. Create and distribute PDF forms
    4. Fill in PDF forms
    5. PDF form field properties
    6. Fill and sign PDF forms
    7. Setting action buttons in PDF forms
    8. Publishing interactive PDF web forms
    9. PDF form field basics
    10. PDF barcode form fields
    11. Collect and manage PDF form data
    12. About forms tracker
    13. PDF forms help
    14. Send PDF forms to recipients using email or an internal server
  8. Combining files
    1. Combine or merge files into single PDF
    2. Rotate, move, delete, and renumber PDF pages
    3. Add headers, footers, and Bates numbering to PDFs
    4. Crop PDF pages
    5. Add watermarks to PDFs
    6. Add backgrounds to PDFs
    7. Working with component files in a PDF Portfolio
    8. Publish and share PDF Portfolios
    9. Overview of PDF Portfolios
    10. Create and customize PDF Portfolios
  9. Sharing, reviews, and commenting
    1. Share and track PDFs online
    2. Mark up text with edits
    3. Preparing for a PDF review
    4. Starting a PDF review
    5. Hosting shared reviews on SharePoint or Office 365 sites
    6. Participating in a PDF review
    7. Add comments to PDFs
    8. Adding a stamp to a PDF
    9. Approval workflows
    10. Managing comments | view, reply, print
    11. Importing and exporting comments
    12. Tracking and managing PDF reviews
  10. Saving and exporting PDFs
    1. Saving PDFs
    2. Convert PDF to Word
    3. Convert PDF to JPG
    4. Convert or export PDFs to other file formats
    5. File format options for PDF export
    6. Reusing PDF content
  11. Security
    1. Enhanced security setting for PDFs
    2. Securing PDFs with passwords
    3. Manage Digital IDs
    4. Securing PDFs with certificates
    5. Opening secured PDFs
    6. Removing sensitive content from PDFs
    7. Setting up security policies for PDFs
    8. Choosing a security method for PDFs
    9. Security warnings when a PDF opens
    10. Securing PDFs with Adobe Experience Manager
    11. Protected View feature for PDFs
    12. Overview of security in Acrobat and PDFs
    13. JavaScripts in PDFs as a security risk
    14. Attachments as security risks
    15. Allow or block links in PDFs
  12. Electronic signatures
    1. Sign PDF documents
    2. Capture your signature on mobile and use it everywhere
    3. Send documents for e-signatures
    4. About certificate signatures
    5. Certificate-based signatures
    6. Validating digital signatures
    7. Adobe Approved Trust List
    8. Manage trusted identities
  13. Printing
    1. Basic PDF printing tasks
    2. Print Booklets and PDF Portfolios
    3. Advanced PDF print settings
    4. Print to PDF
    5. Printing color PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    6. Printing PDFs in custom sizes
  14. Accessibility, tags, and reflow
    1. Create and verify PDF accessibility
    2. Accessibility features in PDFs
    3. Reading Order tool for PDFs
    4. Reading PDFs with reflow and accessibility features
    5. Edit document structure with the Content and Tags panels
    6. Creating accessible PDFs
  15. Searching and indexing
    1. Creating PDF indexes
    2. Searching PDFs
  16. Multimedia and 3D models
    1. Add audio, video, and interactive objects to PDFs
    2. Adding 3D models to PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    3. Displaying 3D models in PDFs
    4. Interacting with 3D models
    5. Measuring 3D objects in PDFs
    6. Setting 3D views in PDFs
    7. Enable 3D content in PDF
    8. Adding multimedia to PDFs
    9. Commenting on 3D designs in PDFs
    10. Playing video, audio, and multimedia formats in PDFs
    11. Add comments to videos
  17. Print production tools (Acrobat Pro)
    1. Print production tools overview
    2. Printer marks and hairlines
    3. Previewing output
    4. Transparency flattening
    5. Color conversion and ink management
    6. Trapping color
  18. Preflight (Acrobat Pro)
    1. PDF/X-, PDF/A-, and PDF/E-compliant files
    2. Preflight profiles
    3. Advanced preflight inspections
    4. Preflight reports
    5. Viewing preflight results, objects, and resources
    6. Output intents in PDFs
    7. Correcting problem areas with the Preflight tool
    8. Automating document analysis with droplets or preflight actions
    9. Analyzing documents with the Preflight tool
    10. Additional checks in the Preflight tool
    11. Preflight libraries
    12. Preflight variables
  19. Color management
    1. Keeping colors consistent
    2. Color settings
    3. Color-managing documents
    4. Working with color profiles
    5. Understanding color management

Choose an Adobe PDF preset for converting files

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Start Acrobat Distiller.

    • In an Adobe Creative Cloud application, choose File > Print, select Adobe PDF as the target printer, and click Print Settings (Photoshop) or Setup > Preferences (InDesign).

    • (Windows) In Office 2010 or later applications, choose Acrobat > Preferences.

    • (Windows) In another authoring application or utility, choose Adobe PDF > Change Conversion Settings.

  2. Choose a preset from the Default Settings (or Conversion Settings) menu.

Adobe PDF presets

A PDF preset is a group of settings that affect the process of creating a PDF. These settings are designed to balance file size with quality, depending on how the PDF are used. Most predefined presets are shared across Adobe Creative Cloud applications, including InDesign CC, Illustrator CC, Photoshop CC, and Acrobat. You can also create and share custom presets for your unique output requirements. A saved PDF preset file has the suffix .joboptions.

A few of the following presets are not available until you move them from the Extras folder (where they installed by default) to the Settings folder for custom settings.


Acrobat Standard does not include the Extras folder. The presets installed in the Extras folder are only available in Acrobat Pro.

Typically, the Extras and Settings folders for default settings are found at the following locations.

  • (Windows XP) Documents and Settings/All Users/Application Data/Adobe/Adobe PDF

  • (Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8) ProgramData/Adobe/Adobe PDF

  • (Acrobat Pro on Mac OS) Library/Application Support/Adobe PDF

The default settings files installed with Distiller are Read Only and Hidden.

The custom settings are found in the following locations:

  • (Windows XP) Documents and Settings/[username]/Application Data/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings

  • (Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8) Users/[username]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings

  • (Acrobat Pro on Mac OS) Users/[username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings

Some presets are not available in some Adobe Creative Cloud applications.


Review your PDF settings periodically. The settings do not automatically revert to the default settings. Applications and utilities that create PDFs use the last set of PDF settings defined or selected.

High Quality Print

Creates PDFs for quality printing on desktop printers and proofing devices. This preset uses PDF 1.4, downsamples color and grayscale images to 300 ppi and monochrome images to 1200 ppi. It also embeds subsets of all fonts, leaves color unchanged, and does not flatten transparency (for file types capable of transparency). These PDFs can be opened in Acrobat 5.0 and Acrobat Reader 5.0 and later.

Oversized Pages (Acrobat Pro)

Creates PDFs suitable for viewing and printing of engineering drawings larger than 200 x 200 in. (508 x 508 cm). These PDFs can be opened in Acrobat and Reader 7.0 and later.

PDF/A‑1b: 2005 (CMYK and RGB)

Used for long-term preservation (archival) of electronic documents. PDF/A‑1b uses PDF 1.4 and converts all colors to either CMYK or RGB, depending on which standard you choose. These PDFs can be opened in Acrobat and Reader versions 5.0 and later.

PDF/X‑1a (2001 and 2003) (Acrobat Pro)

PDF/X‑1a requires all fonts to be embedded, the appropriate PDF bounding boxes to be specified, and color to appear as CMYK, spot colors, or both. Compliant files must contain information describing the printing condition for which they are prepared. PDF files created with PDF/X‑1a compliance can be opened in Acrobat 4.0 and Acrobat Reader 4.0 and later.

PDF/X‑1a uses PDF 1.3, downsamples color and grayscale images to 300 ppi and monochrome images to 1200 ppi. It embeds subsets of all fonts, creates untagged PDFs, and flattens transparency using the High Resolution setting.


The PDF/X1‑a:2003 and PDF/X‑3 (2003) presets are placed on your computer during installation. However, they aren’t available until you move them from the Extras folder to the Settings folder.  

PDF/X‑4 (Acrobat Pro)

This preset is based on PDF 1.4, which includes support for live transparency. PDF/X‑4 has the same color-management and International Color Consortium (ICC) color specifications as PDF/X‑3. You can create PDF/X‑4‑compliant files directly with Creative Suite 3 applications (Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop). In Acrobat 9, use the Preflight feature to convert PDFs to PDF/X‑4 DRAFT.

PDF files created with PDF/X‑4 compliance can be opened in Acrobat 7.0 and Reader 7.0 and later.

Press Quality

Creates PDF files for high-quality print production (for example, for digital printing or for color separations to an imagesetter or platesetter). However, it does not create files that are PDF/X compliant. In this case, the quality of the content is the highest consideration. The objective is to maintain all the information in a PDF file that a commercial printer or print service provider requires to print the document correctly. This set of options uses PDF 1.4, converts colors to CMYK, and downsamples color and grayscale images to 300 ppi and monochrome images to 1200 ppi. It embeds subsets of all fonts and preserves transparency (for file types capable of transparency).

These PDF files can be opened in Acrobat 5.0 and Acrobat Reader 5.0 and later.

Note: Before creating a PDF file to send to a commercial printer or print service provider, find out what output resolution and other settings are required. Or, ask for a .joboptions file with the recommended settings. You sometimes must customize the Adobe PDF settings for a particular provider and then provide a .joboptions file of your own.

Rich Content PDF (Acrobat Pro)

Creates accessible PDF files that include tags, hyperlinks, bookmarks, interactive elements, and layers. This set of options uses PDF 1.6 and embeds subsets of all fonts. It also optimizes files for byte serving. These PDF files can be opened in Acrobat and Reader 7.0 and later. (The Rich Content PDF preset is in the Extras folder).


This preset was called eBook in earlier versions of some applications.

Smallest File Size

Creates PDF files for displaying on the web or an intranet, or for distribution through an email system. This set of options uses compression, downsampling, and a relatively low image resolution. It converts all colors to sRGB, and (for Adobe Acrobat Distiller-based conversions) does not embed fonts. It also optimizes files for byte serving.

These PDF files can be opened in Acrobat and Reader 6.0 and later.


Creates PDF files to be printed to desktop printers or digital copiers, published on a CD, or sent to a client as a publishing proof. This set of options uses compression and downsampling to keep the file size down. However, it also embeds subsets of all (allowed) fonts used in the file, converts all colors to sRGB, and prints to a medium resolution. Windows font subsets are not embedded by default. PDF files created with this settings file can be opened in Acrobat and Reader 6.0 and later.

About PDF/X, PDF/E, and PDF/A standards

PDF/X, PDF/E, and PDF/A standards are defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). PDF/X standards apply to graphic content exchange; PDF/E standards apply to the interactive exchange of engineering documents; PDF/A standards apply to long-term archiving of electronic documents. During PDF conversion, the file that is being processed is checked against the specified standard. If the PDF does not meet the selected ISO standard, you are prompted to either cancel the conversion or create a non-compliant file.

The most widely used standards for a print publishing workflow are several PDF/X formats: PDF/X‑1a, PDF/X‑3, and (in 2008) PDF/X‑4. The most widely used standards for PDF archiving are PDF/A‑1a and PDF/A‑1b (for less stringent requirements). Currently, the only version of PDF/E is PDF/E-1.

For more information on PDF/X, PDF/E, and PDF/A, see the ISO and AIIM websites.

For details on creating and working with PDF/A files, see

Customize Adobe PDF settings

You may want to create custom conversion settings for certain jobs or output devices. The selections you make determine such things as whether the document fonts are embedded and subsetted at 100%, how vector objects and images are compressed and/or sampled, and whether the resulting PDF includes high-end printing information such as OPI (Open Prepress Interface) comments. Default settings files cannot be modified, but can be duplicated to help create new settings files.


If the PDF is intended for high-end printing, ask your service provider for their custom .joboptions file with the recommended output resolution and other settings. This way, the PDF you give them will have characteristics optimized for your print workflow.

Create a custom Adobe PDF settings file

  1. Do one of the following:
    • In Acrobat Distiller, select one of the predefined sets of options from the Default Settings menu to use as a starting point, and then choose Settings > Edit Adobe PDF Settings.

    • In authoring applications or utilities, select Adobe PDF as the target printer—typically in the Page Setup or Print dialog boxes—and click Properties.

    • (Windows) In the Acrobat PDFMaker dialog box, click Advanced Settings in the Settings tab.

      Note: In Windows, you can switch to a different preset from within the Adobe PDF Settings dialog box. To do this, select Show All Settings at the bottom left and then select a preset from the list on the left.

    Adobe PDF Settings dialog box (Windows)
    Adobe PDF Settings dialog box (Windows)

  2. Select panels one at a time, and make changes as needed.
  3. Save your customized preset in one of the following ways:
    • Click OK to save a duplicate of the custom preset file, which will automatically be renamed. For example, if you edit the Press Quality preset, your first customized version appears as Press Quality (1).

    • Click Save As, type a new descriptive name for the file, and click Save.

    The custom file is saved in (Windows) /Documents and Settings/[user name]/Application Data/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings, (Vista/7/8) User/[user name]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings, or (Mac OS) Users/[user name]/Library/Application Support/Adobe PDF/Settings.

Delete custom Adobe PDF settings files

  1. In Acrobat Distiller, choose Settings > Remove Adobe PDF Settings.

  2. Select the custom file and click Remove.

  3. Repeat step 2 as needed, and then click Cancel to close the Remove Adobe PDF Settings dialog box.

Adobe PDF settings

The Acrobat Distiller Adobe PDFMaker Settings > Advanced Settings contains panels of options that you can select to customize your PDF output.

General panel options

Use this panel to select a version of Acrobat for file compatibility and other file and device settings.


Sets the compatibility level of the PDF. Use the most recent version (in this case, version 1.7) to include all the latest features and functionality. If you’re creating PDFs that will be distributed widely, choose an earlier level, to ensure that all users can view and print the document.

Object Level Compression

Compresses structural information (such as bookmarks, accessibility, and noncompressible objects), making this information neither visible or usable in Acrobat 5.0 or Reader 5.0. Tags Only compresses structural information; Off applies no compression.

Auto-Rotate Pages

Automatically rotates pages according to the direction of text.


If Process DSC Comments is selected in the Advanced panel and if %%Viewing Orientation comments are included, these comments take precedence in determining page orientation.

Collectively By File

Rotates all pages to match the orientation of the majority of text in the document.


Rotates each page based on the orientation of the text on that page.


Prevents pages from rotating.


Specifies whether to display a PDF with left side or right side binding. The Binding setting affects the appearance of pages in the Two-Up Continuous view and the appearance of thumbnails side by side.


Use for PostScript files to emulate resolutions based on the printer they are printing to. Permitted values range from 72 to 4000. Use the default setting unless you plan to print the PDF on a specific printer while emulating the resolution defined in the original PostScript file.


Increasing the resolution setting increases file size and may slightly increase the time required to process some files.


Specifies which pages to convert to PDF.

Embed Thumbnails

Embeds a thumbnail preview for each page in the PDF, increasing the file size. Deselect this setting when users of Acrobat 5.0 and later will view and print the PDF; these versions generate thumbnails dynamically each time you click the Pages panel of a PDF.

Optimize For Fast Web View

Restructures the file for faster access (page-at-a-time downloading, or byte serving) from web servers. This option compresses text and line art, overriding compression selections on the Images panel.

Default Page Size

Specifies the page size to use when one is not specified in the original file. EPS files give a bounding box size, not a page size.

Images panel options

The options in the Images panel specify compression and resampling for color, grayscale, and monochrome images. You may want to experiment with these options to find an appropriate balance between file size and image quality.

The resolution setting for color and grayscale images should be 1.5 to 2 times the line screen ruling at which the file will be printed. The resolution for monochrome images should be the same as the output device, but be aware that saving a monochrome image at a resolution higher than 1500 dpi increases the file size without noticeably improving image quality. Images that will be magnified, such as maps, may require higher resolutions.


Resampling monochrome images can have unexpected viewing results, such as no image display. If this happens, turn off resampling and convert the file again. This problem is most likely to occur with subsampling, and least likely with bicubic downsampling.

The following table shows common types of printers and their resolution measured in dpi, their default screen ruling measured in lines per inch (lpi), and a resampling resolution for images measured in pixels per inch (ppi). For example, if you were printing to a 600-dpi laser printer, you would enter 170 for the resolution at which to resample images.

Printer resolution

Default line screen

Image resolution

300 dpi (laser printer)

60 lpi

120 ppi

600 dpi (laser printer)

85 lpi

170 ppi

1200 dpi (imagesetter)

120 lpi

240 ppi

2400 dpi (imagesetter)

150 lpi

300 ppi

Downsample (Off)

Reduces image resolutions that exceed the For Images Above value to the resolution of the output device by combining pixels in a sample area of the image to make one larger pixel.

Average Downsampling To

Averages the pixels in a sample area and replaces the entire area with the average pixel color at the specified resolution.

Subsampling To

Replaces an entire area with a pixel selected from that sample area, at the specified resolution. Causes faster conversion time than downsampling, but resulting images are less smooth and continuous.

Bicubic Downsampling To

Uses a weighted average, instead of a simple average (as in downsampling) to determine pixel color. This method is slowest but produces the smoothest tonal gradations.

Compression/Image Quality

Applies compression to color, grayscale, and monochrome images. For color and grayscale images, also sets the image quality.

Anti-Alias To Gray

Smooths jagged edges in monochrome images. Choose 2 bit, 4 bit, or 8 bit to specify 4, 16, or 256 levels of gray. (Anti-aliasing may cause small type or thin lines to look blurry.)


Compression of text and line art is always on. To turn it off, set the appropriate Distiller parameter. For details, see the SDK information on the Acrobat Developer Center at (PDF, English only).


Opens the Image Policy dialog box, where you can set processing options for Color, Grayscale, and Monochrome images that are less than the resolutions you specify. For each type of image, enter a resolution value, and then choose Ignore, Warn And Continue, or Cancel Job.

Fonts panel options

The Fonts options specify which fonts to embed in a PDF, and whether to embed a subset of characters used in the PDF. You can embed OpenType®, TrueType, and PostScript fonts. Fonts that have license restrictions are listed with a lock icon . If you select a font that has a license restriction, the nature of the restriction is described in the Adobe PDF Options dialog box.


When you combine PDF files that have the same font subset, Acrobat attempts to combine the font subsets.

Embed All Fonts

Embeds all fonts used in the file. Font embedding is required for PDF/X compliance.

Embed OpenType Fonts

Embeds all OpenType fonts used in the file, and maintains OpenType font information for advanced line layout. This option is available only if either Acrobat 7.0 (PDF 1.6) or Acrobat 8 (PDF 1.7) is selected from the Compatibility menu in the General panel.

Subset Embedded Fonts When Percent Of Characters Used Is Less Than

Specifies a threshold percentage if you want to embed only a subset of the fonts. For example, if the threshold is 35, and fewer than 35% of the characters are used, Distiller embeds only those characters.

When Embedding Fails

Specifies how Distiller responds if it cannot find a font to embed when processing a file.

Always Embed

To embed only certain fonts, move them into the Always Embed list. Make sure that Embed All Fonts is not selected.

Never Embed

Move fonts that you do not want to embed to this list. If necessary, choose a different font folder from the pop-up menu to display the font in the font list.


Fonts that have license restrictions are listed with a lock icon. If you select a font with a license restriction, the nature of the restriction is described in the Adobe PDF Options dialog box.

Add Name

If the font you want is not in a font folder, click Add Name. Enter the name of the font, select Always Embed List (or Never Embed List), and click Add.


A TrueType font can contain a setting added by the font designer that prevents the font from being embedded in PDF files.


Removes a font from the Always Embed or Never Embed list. This action doesn’t remove the font from your system; it removes the reference to the font from the list.


Acrobat does not include the Times, Helvetica, and ZapfDingbats fonts. If you want PDF recipients to view and print these fonts in PDFs that you create, embed the fonts.

Color panel options

Whether you’re using color management information in the PostScript file, using Distiller CSFs, or defining custom settings, you set all color management information for Distiller on the Color panel of the Adobe PDF Settings dialog box.

Settings File

Lists color settings, including those used in graphics applications. The None setting lets you edit the Color Management Policies and Working Spaces settings.

Color Management Policies

Specifies how Distiller converts unmanaged color in a PostScript file when you don’t use a Distiller color settings file. This menu is available when None is selected in the Settings File menu.


Color Management Policies values may affect a PDF differently depending on the compatibility setting you choose in the General panel.

Leave Color Unchanged

Leaves device-dependent colors unchanged and preserves device-independent colors as the nearest possible equivalent. This is a useful option for print shops that have calibrated their devices, have used that information to specify color in the file, and are only outputting to those devices.

Tag (Or Convert) Everything For Color Management

Tags color objects with an ICC profile and calibrates colors, making them device-independent in PDFs compatible with Acrobat 4.0 (PDF 1.3) and later. Converts device-dependent color spaces in images (RGB, Grayscale, and CMYK) to device-independent color spaces (CalRGB, CalGray, and Cie L*a*b) in Acrobat 3.0 (PDF 1.2) compatible PDFs.

Tag (Or Convert) Only Images For Color Management

Tags ICC profiles in images only (not text or vector objects), which prevents black text from undergoing any color shift when distilling Acrobat 4.0 (PDF 1.3) compatible PDFs. Converts device-dependent color spaces in images (RGB, Grayscale, and CMYK) to device-independent color spaces (CalRGB, CalGray, and Lab) in Acrobat 3.0 (PDF 1.2) compatible PDFs.

Convert All Colors To sRGB (or Convert Everything To CalRGB)

Calibrates color, making it device-independent. Converts CMYK and RGB images to sRGB in PDFs compatible with Acrobat 4.0 (PDF 1.3) or later. Converts CMYK and RGB images to calibrated RGB (CalRGB) in Acrobat 3.0 (PDF 1.2) compatible PDFs. Recommended for PDFs that will be used onscreen or with low-resolution printers.

Convert All Colors To CMYK

Converts color spaces to DeviceGray or DeviceCMYK according to the options specified in the Working Spaces menu. All Working Spaces must be specified.

Document Rendering Intent

Choose a method to map colors between color spaces. The result of any particular method depends on the profiles of the color spaces. For example, some profiles produce identical results with different methods.

Acrobat shares four rendering intents (Perceptual, Saturation, Relative Colorimetric, and Absolute Colorimetric) with other Creative Suite applications.

Acrobat also includes a rendering intent called Preserve, which indicates that the intent is specified in the output device rather than in the PDF. In many output devices, Relative Colorimetric is the default intent.


In all cases, intents may be ignored or overridden by color management operations that occur subsequent to the creation of the PDF file.

Working Spaces

For all Color Management Policies values other than Leave Color Unchanged, choose a working space to specify which ICC profiles are used for defining and calibrating the grayscale, RGB, and CMYK color spaces in distilled PDFs.


Choose a profile to define the color space of all grayscale images in files. The default ICC profile for gray images is Adobe Gray - 20% Dot Gain. Choose None to prevent grayscale images from being converted.


Choose a profile to define the color space of all RGB images in files. The default, sRGB IEC61966-2.1, is recognized by many output devices. Choose None to prevent RGB images from being converted.


Choose a profile to define the color space of all CMYK images in files. The default is U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2. Choose None to prevent CMYK images from being converted.


Choosing None for all three working spaces has the same effect as selecting the option Leave Color Unchanged.


You can add ICC profiles (such as ones provided by your print service bureau) by placing them in the ICCProfiles folder in the Common folder, the Windows\System\Color folder (Windows), or the System Folder/ColorSync folder (Mac OS).

Preserve CMYK Values For Calibrated CMYK Color Spaces

When selected, device-independent CMYK values are treated as device-dependent (DeviceCMYK) values, device-independent color spaces are discarded, and PDF/X-1a files use the Convert All Colors To CMYK value. When deselected, device-independent color spaces convert to CMYK, provided that Color Management Policies is set to Convert All Colors To CMYK.

Preserve Under Color Removal And Black Generation

Retains these settings if they exist in the PostScript file. Black generation calculates the amount of black to use when reproducing a color. Undercolor removal (UCR) reduces cyan, magenta, and yellow to compensate for black generation. Because UCR uses less ink, it’s suitable for uncoated stock.

When Transfer Functions Are Found

Specifies how to handle transfer functions in PDFs. Transfer functions are used for artistic effect and to correct for the characteristics of a specific output device.


Deletes any applied transfer functions. Applied transfer functions should be removed, unless the PDF is to be output to the same device that the source PostScript file was created for.


Retains the transfer functions traditionally used to compensate for dot gain or dot loss that may occur when an image is transferred to film. Dot gain or loss occurs when the ink dots that make up a printed image are larger or smaller than in the halftone screen.


Applies the transfer function, changing the colors in the file but doesn’t keep it. This method is useful for creating color effects in a file.

Preserve Halftone Information

Retains any halftone information in files. Halftone information is intended for use with a particular output device.

Advanced panel options

Advanced options specify which Document Structuring Conventions (DSC) comments to keep in a PDF and how to set other options that affect the conversion from PostScript. In a PostScript file, DSC comments contain information about the file (such as the originating application, the creation date, and the page orientation) and provide structure for page descriptions in the file (such as beginning and ending statements for a prologue section). DSC comments can be useful when your document is going to print or press.

For more information, see the documents on the Adobe PDF Technology Center at (PDF, English only).


The ASCII Format option has been removed from Distiller, but is still available as a Distiller parameter.

Allow PostScript File To Override Adobe PDF Settings

Uses settings stored in a PostScript file rather than the current PDF settings file. For more information about customizing PDF settings, see the SDK information on the Acrobat Developer Center at (PDF, English only).

Allow PostScript XObjects

PostScript XObjects store fragments of PostScript code to be used when a PDF is printed on a PostScript printer. Use only in controlled workflows where there is no other option. Available when the Standard or Smallest File Size is selected from the Default Settings menu.

Convert Gradients To Smooth Shades

Converts blends to smooth shades for Acrobat 4.0 and later, improving quality and reducing file size of PDFs. Distiller converts gradients from Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe FreeHand®, CorelDraw, QuarkXPress, and Microsoft PowerPoint.

Convert Smooth Lines To Curves

Reduces the amount of control points used to build curves in CAD drawings, which results in smaller PDFs and faster onscreen rendering.

Preserve Level 2 Copypage Semantics

Uses the copypage operator defined in PostScript Level 2 rather than in Language Level 3 PostScript. If you have a PostScript file and select this option, a copypage operator copies the page. If this option is not selected, the equivalent of a showpage operation is executed, except that the graphics state is not reinitialized.

Preserve Overprint Settings

Retains any overprint settings in files being converted to PDF. Overprint settings create color by printing one ink on top of another ink.

Overprinting Default Is Nonzero Overprinting

Prevents overprinted objects with zero CMYK values from knocking out CMYK objects beneath them.

Save Adobe PDF Settings Inside PDF File

Embeds the settings file (.joboptions) used to create the PDF as an attachment. (To view the settings file, choose View > Show/Hide > Navigation Panes > Attachments in Acrobat.)

Save Original JPEG Image In PDF If Possible

Processes compressed JPEG images (images that are already compressed using DCT encoding) without recompressing them. When deselected, performance improves because only decompression, not recompression, occurs.

Save Portable Job Ticket Inside PDF File

Preserves a PostScript job ticket in a PDF. Job tickets describe the PostScript file and can be used later in a workflow or for printing the PDF.

Use and

Sends a prologue and epilogue file with each job. These files can be used to add custom PostScript code that you want to have executed at the beginning or end of every PostScript job being converted.

Sample and files are located in (Windows) /Documents and Settings/All Users/Application Data/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Distiller/Data, (Vista) /Users/All Users/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Distiller/Data, (Windows 7/8/Vista) /Users/[Username]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Distiller/Data or (Mac OS)/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Distiller/Data.

In Windows Explorer, the Application Data folder is typically hidden; to make it visible, choose Tools > Folder Options, click the View tab, and select Show Hidden Files And Folders. For Windows 7, Start > Control Panel > Folder Options > View > Show Hidden Files, Folders, and Drives. Or, you can type the path into the Address text box.


In Acrobat Standard, Distiller processes prologue and epilogue files only if both files are present and located properly. The two files must be used together.


In Acrobat Pro, Distiller processes prologue and epilogue files only if both files are present and located properly. The two files must be used together. If the prologue and epilogue files are at the same level as the In and Out folders of a watched folder, they are used instead of the ones in the Distiller folder.

Process DSC Comments

Maintains DSC information from a PostScript file.

Log DSC Warnings

Displays warning messages about problematic DSC comments during processing and adds them to a log file.

Preserve EPS Information From DSC

Retains information for an EPS file, such as the originating application and creation date.

Preserve OPI Comments

Retains information needed to replace a For Placement Only (FPO) image or comment with the high-resolution image located on servers that support Open Prepress Interface (OPI) versions 1.3 and 2.0. For more information, see the OPI 2.0 specification at (PDF, English only).

Preserve Document Information From DSC

Retains document properties, such as the title, creation date, and time, in the PDF.

Resize Page And Center Artwork For EPS Files

Centers an EPS image and resizes the page to fit closely around the image. If deselected, the page is sized and centered based on the upper left corner of the upper left object and lower right corner of the lower right object on the page. This option applies only to jobs that consist of a single EPS file.

Standards panel options

By using Standards options, you can check document content in the PostScript file to make sure it meets standard PDF/X1-a, PDF/X-3, or PDF/A criteria before creating the PDF. For PDF/X-compliant files, you can also require that the PostScript file meet additional criteria by selecting options in the Standards panel. The availability of options depends on the standard you select. You can also create a PDF/X file from a compliant PDF by using the Preflight feature in Acrobat.


Complies with the PDF/X standard for high-resolution print production.


PDFMaker, the conversion method used to convert Microsoft Word and other application files to PDF, does not create PDF/X-compliant files.  


Complies with the PDF/A standard for archival documents.


If you set up a watched folder for creating PDF/A-compliant files in Acrobat Pro, do not add security to the folder. The PDF/A standard does not allow encryption.

Compliance Standard

Produces a report that indicates whether the file complies with the standard you select, and if not, what problems were encountered. The .log file appears at the bottom of the dialog box.


PDFs that complied with both PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-3 standards in Acrobat 6.0 default to PDF/X-1a in Acrobat XI.

When Not Compliant

Specifies whether to create the PDF if the PostScript file does not comply with the requirements of the standard.


Creates a PDF even if the PostScript file does not meet the requirements of the standard, and notes these problems in the report.

Cancel Job

Creates a PDF only if the PostScript file meets the requirements of the standard, and is otherwise valid.

Report As Error (Acrobat Pro)

Flags the PostScript file as noncompliant if one of the reporting options is selected and a trim box or art box is missing from any page.

Set TrimBox To MediaBox With Offsets (Acrobat Pro)

Computes values for the trim box based on the offsets for the media box of respective pages if neither the trim box nor art box is specified. The trim box is always as small as or smaller than the enclosing media box.

Set BleedBox To MediaBox (Acrobat Pro)

Uses the media box values for the bleed box if the bleed box is not specified.

Set BleedBox To TrimBox With Offsets (Acrobat Pro)

Computes values for the bleed box based on the offsets for the trim box of respective pages if the bleed box is not specified. The bleed box is always as large as or larger than the enclosed trim box. This option uses the units specified on the General panel of the Adobe PDF Settings dialog box.

Output Intent Profile Name (Acrobat Pro)

Indicates the characterized printing condition for which the document has been prepared, and is required for PDF/X compliance. If a document doesn’t specify an output intent profile name, Distiller uses the selected value from this menu. If your workflow requires that the document specify the output intent, choose None.

Output Condition Identifier (Acrobat Pro)

Indicates the reference name that is specified by the registry of the output intent profile name. For more information, click the question mark next to the option.

Output Condition (Acrobat Pro)

Describes the intended printing condition. This entry can be useful for the intended receiver of the PDF. For more information, click the question mark next to the option.

Registry Name (URL) (Acrobat Pro)

Indicates the web address for finding more information about the output intent profile. The URL is automatically entered for ICC registry names. The registry name is optional, but recommended. For more information, click the question mark next to the option.

Trapped (Acrobat Pro)

Indicates the state of trapping in the document. PDF/X compliance requires a value of True or False. If the document does not specify the trapped state, the value provided here is used. If your workflow requires that the document specify the trapped state, choose Leave Undefined.

PDF compatibility levels

When you create PDFs, you need to decide which PDF version to use. You can change the PDF version by switching to a different preset or choosing a compatibility option when you save as PDF or edit a PDF preset.

Generally speaking, unless there’s a specific need for backward compatibility, you should use the most recent version (in this case version 1.7). The latest version will include all the newest features and functionality. However, if you’re creating documents that will be distributed widely, consider choosing Acrobat 5.0 (PDF 1.4) or Acrobat 6.0 (PDF 1.5) to ensure that all users can view and print the document.

The following table compares some of the functionality in PDFs created using the different compatibility settings.


Acrobat 8.0 and 9.0 also use PDF 1.7.

Acrobat 4.0 (PDF 1.3)

Acrobat 5.0 (PDF 1.4)

Acrobat 6.0 (PDF 1.5)

Acrobat 7.0 (PDF 1.6) and Acrobat X (PDF 1.7)

PDFs can be opened with Acrobat 3.0 and Acrobat Reader 3.0 and later.

PDFs can be opened with Acrobat 3.0 and Acrobat Reader 3.0 and later. However, features specific to later versions may be lost or not viewable.

Most PDFs can be opened with Acrobat 4.0 and Acrobat Reader 4.0 and later. However, features specific to later versions may be lost or not viewable.

Most PDFs can be opened with Acrobat 4.0 and Acrobat Reader 4.0 and later. However, features specific to later versions may be lost or not viewable.

Cannot contain artwork that uses live transparency effects. Any transparency must be flattened prior to converting to PDF 1.3.

Supports the use of live transparency in artwork. (The Acrobat Distiller feature flattens transparency.)

Supports the use of live transparency in artwork. (The Acrobat Distiller feature flattens transparency.)

Supports the use of live transparency in artwork. (The Acrobat Distiller feature flattens transparency.)

Layers are not supported.

Layers are not supported.

Preserves layers when creating PDFs from applications that support the generation of layered PDF documents, such as Illustrator CS and later or InDesign CS and later.

Preserves layers when creating PDFs from applications that support the generation of layered PDF documents, such as Illustrator CS and later or InDesign CS and later.

DeviceN color space with 8 colorants is supported.

DeviceN color space with 8 colorants is supported.

DeviceN color space with up to 31 colorants is supported.

DeviceN color space with up to 31 colorants is supported.

Multibyte fonts can be embedded. (Distiller converts the fonts when embedding.)

Multibyte fonts can be embedded.

Multibyte fonts can be embedded.

Multibyte fonts can be embedded.

40-bit RC4 security supported.

128-bit RC4 security supported.

128-bit RC4 security supported.

128-bit RC4 and 128-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) security supported.

Share custom PDF settings

You can save and reuse your own Adobe PDF preset definitions. You can also share a custom preset by sending a copy of the resulting file to other users. Those users can then add it to the Distiller applications installed on their own computers.

PDF settings files have the extension .joboptions. Custom preset files are stored in the following locations.

  • (Windows XP) Documents and Settings/[username]/Application Data/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings

  • (Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8) Users/User/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings

  • (Acrobat Pro for Mac OS) User/[username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings


  1. To add a custom PDF settings file to the menu, do one of the following:
    • Drag the .joboptions file onto the Distiller window.

    • In Acrobat Distiller, choose Settings > Add Adobe PDF Settings, browse to the copied .joboptions file, select it, and click Open.

The settings file appears as the selected option in the Default Settings menu.

Compressing and downsampling images

When converting PostScript files to PDF, you can compress vector objects (such as text and line art) and compress and downsample images. Line art is described with a mathematical equation and is usually created with a drawing program such as Adobe Illustrator. Images—whether color, monochrome, or grayscale—are described as pixels and are created with applications like Adobe Photoshop or by scanning. Monochrome images include most black-and-white illustrations made by paint programs and any images scanned with an image depth of 1 bit.

When you downsample (or decrease the number of pixels), information is deleted from the image. With Distiller, you specify an interpolation method—average downsampling, bicubic downsampling, or subsampling—to determine how pixels are deleted. Depending on the settings you choose, compression and downsampling can significantly reduce the size of a PDF with little or no loss of detail and precision.

When Distiller processes a file, it normally applies the compression settings to images throughout the file. However, you can assign different compression and downsampling methods to individual images.

Varying the compression and downsampling methods within a PDF

Before you create a PDF, you can take various approaches to applying different compression and downsampling options to the individual images that will go into that PDF:

  • Use Adobe Photoshop CC to resample and compress existing image files before using Distiller. When you are ready to create the PDF in Distiller, be careful to deselect the compression and downsampling or subsampling options.

  • Create separate PostScript files for each part of the document that you want to process differently, and use different compression options to distill each part. Then use Distiller to merge the files into a single PDF.

  • When you create color, grayscale, and monochrome images in an art application (such as Adobe Photoshop CC), select the compression and downsampling settings that you want when you save each image from within that application.

  • Insert Distiller parameters before images in a PostScript file. You can use this technique to process every image in a document differently. This technique is the most difficult, because it requires knowledge of PostScript programming. For more information on using parameters, see the SDK documentation on the Acrobat Developer Center at (English only).


To apply the inserted Distiller parameters, select Allow PostScript File To Override Adobe PDF Settings on the Advanced panel of the Adobe PDF Settings dialog box in Distiller. This option overrides settings you selected in the Adobe PDF dialog box.

Compression methods

Distiller applies ZIP compression to text and line art, ZIP or JPEG compression to color and grayscale images, and ZIP, CCITT Group 3 or 4, or Run Length compression to monochrome images.

compression methods
Suitable compression methods for different art types

A. ZIP B. JPEG C. CCITT D. Run Length 

You can choose from the following compression methods:


Works well on images with large areas of single colors or repeating patterns, and for black-and-white images that contain repeating patterns. Acrobat supports only 8-bit ZIP compression, which is lossless; that is, data is not removed to reduce file size, so image quality is not affected.


Adobe implementation of the ZIP filter is derived from the zlib package of Jean-loup Gailly and Mark Adler, whose generous assistance we gratefully acknowledge.


Suitable for grayscale or color images, such as continuous-tone photographs. JPEG is lossy, which means that it removes image data and may reduce image quality; however, it attempts to reduce file size with the minimum loss of information. Because JPEG compression eliminates data, it can achieve much smaller file sizes than ZIP compression.


Available only for monochrome bitmap images. CCITT (Consultative Committee on International Telegraphy and Telephony) compression is appropriate for black-and-white images and any images scanned with an image depth of 1 bit. Group 4 is a general-purpose method that produces good compression for most monochrome images. Group 3, used by most fax machines, compresses monochrome images one row at a time.

Run Length

Produces the best results for images that contain large areas of solid white or black.

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