User Guide Cancel

Approval workflows

  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

About approval workflows

Acrobat users (Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, and Korean only), can send PDFs as email attachments for others to approve. When participants open an approval request in Acrobat (all languages), they can approve the PDF by adding a digital identity stamp. Then, they can send the PDF to other approvers, or return the PDF to the initiator and other appropriate participants. The initiator can track progress by choosing to be notified each time the PDF is approved. The workflow ends when the last participant adds the final approval. If a PDF isn’t approved, the approval workflow must be reinitiated.


If you use Acrobat Pro to initiate the workflow, you can invite users of Reader 9 or later to participate by enabling commenting in the PDF.

Wizard sets up approval workflows (left); Stamps palette provides stamps for approving documents (right).


Send a PDF for approval

When you send a PDF by email for approval (Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, and Korean only), approvers receive the PDF as an email attachment. When recipients open the PDF attachment, they can apply a digital identity stamp from the Stamps palette and then make the appropriate selection in the document message bar.

To send a PDF for approval, use the wizard in Acrobat. The wizard provides on-screen instructions to help you invite approvers, customize instructions, and send the PDF.

In Acrobat Pro, the wizard enables commenting in the PDF so that Acrobat Reader users can participate in the approval workflow.

Before you initiate an approval workflow, make sure that your email application is configured to work with Acrobat.

  1. To start an approval workflow, choose Share > Send By Email For Approval.

  2. If prompted, enter your email address in the Identity Setup dialog box.
  3. Specify a PDF, and click Next.

  4. Type the email address for the first approver in the To box.
  5. (Acrobat Pro) If you want to enable Reader users to participate or if you want to be notified of the approval status for each participant, specify those options.

  6. (Acrobat Standard) If you want to be notified of the approval status for each participant, specify those options.

  7. (Optional) Type additional instructions for the first approver at the top of the email message.

    Only the default text message and instructions are forwarded to subsequent approvers.


    The invitation email contains instructions to help participants complete the approval process. Avoid changing or removing this text.

  8. Click Send Invitation.

Participate in an approval workflow

If you’re invited to participate in an approval workflow, you receive an email message that provides step-by-step instructions for approving the attached PDF. When you open the PDF, the Stamps palette opens and the document message bar appears at the top of the PDF. If your version of Acrobat is earlier than 7.0, you’re prompted to download the latest version of Reader.

You can select any of the digital identity stamps in the Stamps palette to approve the document. A digital identity stamp contains identity information that you provide, such as name, title, organization, and email address. You can use an identity stamp in place of a signature. When you apply a stamp, it becomes part of the document page content. You can delete your own stamp during the approval process; however, once the approval process is completed, your stamp is locked. You can’t move or delete stamps from other participants.

You can also reject documents that don’t meet your standards.

In addition to adding digital stamps to a PDF, you can add other types of comments, including note comments, text edits, custom stamps, and file attachments.

Approve a PDF

  1. Open the PDF attachment in the approval invitation email message.

    If you haven’t added identity information to the stamp, you’re prompted to do so.

  2. Select a stamp from the Stamps palette (Tools > StampStamps palette) . (To view all stamps, scroll or drag a corner to resize the window.)

  3. Click the document to apply your approval stamp.

    To delete a digital identity stamp that you’ve applied, select it and press Delete. If you select Print, Save A Copy, or Email during the approval process, you can’t delete your stamp.

  4. Do one of the following:
    • To send the document to the next approver, click the Approve button in the document message bar. In the Send To Next Approver dialog box, type the email address for the next approver in the To box, add addresses for other recipients as appropriate, and click Send.

    • To complete the approval process, click the Final Approval button in the document message bar. In the Complete Final Approval dialog box, specify whether to send an approval notification from the Final Approval Method menu. If you send a notification, type an email address in the To box, add addresses for other recipients as appropriate, and click Send. If you don’t send a notification, click Complete.

      If the Notify Initiator Of Approval Status Via Email option is selected, a separate email notification appears, addressed to the initiator. Click Send to send this notification.

  5. Save the PDF.

    If you use the Email button  in the toolbar to send the PDF, the PDF is no longer part of the workflow, and approval options aren’t available to the recipient of that email message.

Reject a PDF

If the PDF you received in an approval request doesn’t meet the requirements for approval, use the options in the document message bar to reject the document and return it to the initiator. If a PDF is rejected, the approval workflow must be reinitiated.

  1. Open the PDF attachment in the approval invitation email message.
  2. Click the Reject button in the document message bar.

  3. In the Reject And Send Notification dialog box, type the email address for the initiator in the To box. If the Notify Initiator Of Approval Status Via Email option is selected, a separate email message is sent to the approval initiator. Click Send.

  4. Click Send in the email message that appears.

Add or change identity information for a digital stamp

  1. Choose Tools > Stamps > Stamps Palette.

  2. In the Stamps palette, select Digital Identity Stamps, right-click your stamp, and choose Edit Identity.

  3. In the Identity Setup dialog box, type or edit your name, title, company name, department, and email address, and click Complete.


You can also change your identity information from the Preferences dialog box. Under Categories, select Identity.


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