Preparing for a PDF review

About managed PDF reviews

In a managed review, you use a wizard to set up your review, specify the document location, and invite participants. You don’t have to import comments, enable commenting for Reader users, or manually track reviewer responses.


You must have Acrobat Pro installed to enable commenting for Acrobat Reader users in managed reviews. You cannot enable commenting for Acrobat Reader users using Acrobat Standard.

Acrobat includes two types of managed reviews: shared and email-based reviews. Each type of review has a wizard that helps you distribute a PDF with special tools and instructions to reviewers.

The Tracker tracks all managed reviews. The Tracker provides access to the PDF file and information about the review and its participants. Review initiators can change review deadlines, add reviewers, and end reviews from the Tracker. The Tracker lets participants know when new comments are available, when deadlines are changed, and when reviewers are added, even when Acrobat is closed. It also provides information about server error states.


Managed reviews cannot be conducted for PDF Portfolios.

Shared reviews

Shared reviews are the most collaborative form of review because participants can read and reply to the comments of other participants. Comments from participants are stored in a repository on an internal server. Acrobat synchronizes comments at regular intervals to download all the latest changes. Reviewers are notified of new comments as they are added, and they can see and reply to comments made by other reviewers.

Shared review in Acrobat
In a shared review, recipients can easily join the review, share their comments, track their reviews, and get regular updates.


For shared reviews, reviewers must have Acrobat 8 or later or Reader 8 or later installed to view other reviewer comments. Reviewers using earlier versions of Acrobat must send comments in email.

Email-based reviews

Email-based reviews are ideal when reviewers either don’t have access to a common server or don’t require a collaborative approach to reviewing documents.

In an email-based review, the initiator sends a PDF to reviewers as an email attachment. Reviewers add their comments and return the document by using the Send Comments button in the document message bar. When receiving these comments, the initiator can merge them into their copy of the PDF.

The primary limitation to email-based reviews is that participants can’t view other comments during the review. Initiators can view comments only after receiving them.


Participants in an email-based review must have Acrobat 6.0 or later or Reader 7.0 or later.

email based review
In an email-based review, participants send their comments to the initiator, who merges the comments into the master copy of the PDF.

Choosing a distribution option for reviews and forms

Acrobat provides several distribution options in the Send For Shared Review and Distribute Form wizard. When you choose an option, consider the security needs for the distributed file, what servers or websites your recipients can use to download the file, and how you want to receive comments or form data.

Internal server

You can use your own internal server location if your recipients work behind a firewall and all have access to a common server. The server can be a network folder, a Microsoft SharePoint workspace (Windows only), or a web server folder. You can include a link to your distributed PDF or send it as an attachment in an email message. For reviews, Acrobat uploads published comments to the server. For forms, Acrobat stores responses on your hard drive as they are returned.


Web server folders are not available for form distribution.

When you specify your own server, the wizard prompts you to save a profile with the server location and the distribution options you chose. The next time you distribute a PDF, the saved profile is available as an option in the wizard.


The Distribute Forms wizard has an option for sending a form as an email attachment. You can send the form using your own email client or webmail. You can also use the wizard to create an email message in which the form file is attached. Once your recipients fill out and submit the form, the responses are returned to your mailbox. Each response is copied into a PDF Portfolio responses file, which you can organize and export to a spreadsheet.

The Send for Shared Review wizard lets you either email a link to the pdf, or attach the pdf to the email.

Enable commenting for Reader users (Acrobat Pro)

By enabling commenting rights in a PDF, users of Reader 8 or later can participate in reviews of that PDF. When a PDF with commenting rights opens in Reader, it includes a document message bar and commenting tools that are otherwise unavailable.

When you initiate a managed review, commenting rights are automatically enabled. If you do not use a managed review (for example, if you send a PDF directly in email), you can still enable commenting rights.

  • Open the PDF and choose File > Save As Other > Reader Extended PDF > Enable Commenting and Measuring.

If you enable commenting for Reader in a digitally signed document, the signature is invalidated.

Select an email application for reviews

You need either an email application and a mail server connection, or a webmail account for email-based reviews and to send comments. Acrobat supports most email applications. If you have more than one email application installed, you can specify which application starts when Acrobat sends a PDF. Do one of the following:

  • (Windows) Double-click Internet Options in the Control Panel. In the Internet Properties dialog box, select the Programs tab, and then select the preferred email application. Restart Acrobat to activate the change.

  • (Windows) Change the MAPI settings in your email application. Acrobat and Reader use the Messaging Application Program Interface (MAPI) to communicate with your email application. Most email applications come with MAPI settings to handle this communication. For more information on configuring your email applications, see the email application’s Help.

  • (Mac OS) In Mail, choose Mail > Preferences, select General, and then choose the preferred email application from the Default Email Reader menu. Restart Acrobat to activate the change. If your application isn’t listed, choose Select from the menu and browse to the location. If you select an application that isn’t listed in the Default Email Reader menu, Acrobat does not necessarily support it.

Specify a server

If you distribute a PDF using your own server location, you can specify a network folder, a Windows server running Microsoft SharePoint Services, or a web server folder. Participants must have read and write access to the server you specify. Ask your network administrator to provide a suitable server location for storing comments. No additional software is required to set up a server.


Web server folders are not available for form distribution.

Network folders

If all recipients are within a local area network, network folders and SharePoint servers are the best choices for a comment server. Network folders are generally the cheapest and most reliable.

SharePoint sites

If your recipients work behind a firewall and all have access to a common server, you can use your own internal server location, such as a Microsoft SharePoint site. For more information, see Hosting shared reviews on SharePoint.

WebDAV servers

WebDAV servers (web servers that use the WebDAV protocol) are best used only if your reviewers are outside a firewall or a local area network. For more information on how to configure Acrobat to use a WebDAV service, see Hosting a Shared Review: An Alternative to

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