The other day we got this question:
“I just discovered the Sticky Notes feature, and I love it! How do I share my notes with others without sending them the whole file?”
It’s a common enough question, and it’s worth answering, because the answer isn’t obvious and there are a few wrinkles.
Sticky notes are just one of a category of features in PDF called “annotations”.
Besides ‘sticky notes’ there are a variety of ways to annotate PDF files, including arrows, boxes, squiggly lines, text-boxes, you name it. You can even record an audio clip as an annotation to a PDF page! Very handy for delivering feedback! If you can Skype, you can record audio comments in a PDF.
Most desktop PDF software (with important exceptions, see below) can add most types of annotations to any PDF, although not all software supports all annotation types, and some software doesn’t support annotations at all.
Ok… to answer the question: the simplest, hassle-free way to share comments is simply to:
- Export the comments, then
- Email them over
This works beautifully in Adobe Acrobat and Reader (although you cannot add Notes in Adobe Reader without Reader Extensions).
In Acrobat 9, you’ll find “Export Comments to Data File” under the “Comments” menu. Save your FDF file someplace, then email that file. The recipient can simply drag and drop the FDF onto their copy of the PDF, and presto! They’re looking at your comments.
<h3 There are Exceptions
Most free PDF viewing software will display most types of annotations, but not all PDF editing software can handle all annotation types (including my beloved sound clip annotation!).
Here’s a test file useful in comparing annotations handling. Compare your favorite software to Adobe Reader, be sure you get the annotation capabilities you need.
As discussed in a previous post, Adobe LiveCycle Designer “Dynamic XFA PDF” forms are not like other PDFs. As a result, there’s no way to annotate a so-called “dynamic” XFA PDF document other than to convert it to a regular PDF first. Which… sort of negates the point of XFA-PDF in the first place.
By Duff Johnson