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Changes to Adobe Acrobat Pro DC Licensing

The Adobe Acrobat Pro DC licensing model has changed to a subscription-based model, which means University of Waterloo departments/units will now have to purchase a subscription for Acrobat Pro DC directly from the Adobe online store or the reseller Softchoice, and they will be paying a higher yearly cost for use of this software.         

Do I still need Adobe Acrobat Pro DC?

Many commonly used features of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC are available in other applications Waterloo employees already have access to (e.g. Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat Reader DC). Alternate, less expensive applications may also be available for purchase. Please see the list of alternatives below.

You may still require Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, if you:

  • create and/or edit fillable PDF forms
  • make remediations for accessibility (i.e. adjust tags or reading order)
  • need to edit content directly in a PDF document (Note: edits can be made to some files using Microsoft Word)

Alternatives to Acrobat Pro DC

RequirementAlternative Instruction
Creating PDF documentsMicrosoft Office
  • Create your file in a Microsoft Office program (e.g. Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and then save the file as a PDF.
  • Save a copy of your file as the appropriate Microsoft Office file type (e.g. .docx, .xlsx, .pptx) as it will be useful when you need to edit your PDF in the future.

Microsoft Photos
  • Windows 10 has added the ability to convert an image file to PDF via its default photo viewing app.
  • The 'Microsoft Print to PDF' feature allows you to print to PDFs natively.
Editing content in PDF documentsMicrosoft Office (with original file)
  • If you have the original Microsoft Office file, open the file in the appropriate Microsoft Office program, make your changes, and then save the file as a PDF again.

Microsoft Office (without original file)
  • Open the PDF in Word, make your changes, and then save the file as a PDF again.
  • Works best for files that are short, mostly text, with simple layouts.
  • You will need to re-apply heading styles, re-add alt text to your images and tables, and re-set the header row(s) for your tables.
  • You may need to reformat other aspects of your file as well; the more complex the file, the more reformatting you will need to do.

Adobe Acrobat Export PDF (purchase required)
  • An Adobe Acrobat Export PDF subscription will grant you access to the Export PDF tool in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC and your browser through Adobe's Document Cloud.
  • Export the PDF file to Word or Excel, make your changes and save the file as a PDF again.
  • Exporting a PDF produces a Word document that retains more formatting than simply opening the PDF in Word.
  • This is a better option for files that are long or complex, of if you have many PDFs to edit.
  • You will need to re-apply heading styles, re-add alt text to your images and tables, and re-set the header row(s) for your tables.
  • You may need to reformat other aspects of your file as well; the more complex the file, the more reformatting you will need to do.


Adding comments and marking up text in PDF documentsAdobe Acrobat Reader DC
  • To add comments to a PDF, use the annotation and drawing markup tools. You can also add sticky notes, text notes, text boxes, callouts, various shapes and free-form drawings.
  • To mark up text in a PDF, use the text editing tools. You can highlight text, underline text and strikethrough text, as well as indicate text to be inserted or replaced.
Filling and signing PDF formsAdobe Acrobat Reader DC
  • All supported versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader DC allow you to fill, sign and save PDF forms. This functionality was added to Adobe Reader XI.
  • Fillable/interactive forms
    • Contain fields that are easy to fill in with text, select, or pick from a set of options.
    • Simply click on the fields to fill in interactive forms.
    • For these forms, the Fill & Sign tool displays only the Sign option.
  • Flat/static forms
    • Do not have interactive fields you can fill in.
    • You can use the Fill & Sign tool to fill out your PDF form electronically, instead of printing and filling out these forms by hand.
    • The Fill & Sign tool lets you manually add text, select an option by adding a cross mark, checkmark or dot, and annotate the form with a circle or line.
  • Signing and initialing forms
    • For fillable and flatforms, you can type, draw or insert an image of your handwritten signature or initials.
    • Use the Fill & Sign tool to sign or initial your form.
Deleting a page from a PDF documentPDF Architect (free version)
  1. Use the Delete tool to remove the desired page(s). For instructions:
    1. Open the PDF Architect User Guide
    2. Navigate to Edit Module and Insert Module > Page Modify > Delete
Rearranging pages in a PDF documentPDF Architect (free version)
  1. Use the Move tool to rearrange the pages. For instructions:
    1. Open the PDF Architect User Guide
    2. Navigate to Edit Module and Insert Module > Page Modify > Move
Combining multiple PDF documents into a single PDF documentPDF Architect (free version)
  1. Log in to gain access to the Create module.
    1. Select the 'File' tab.
    2. Click ‘Sign up with Microsoft’ button.
    3. Log in using your University of Waterloo Office 365 account (e.g. userid@uwaterloo.ca).
  2. Use the Merge Files tool to combine the multiple PDF documents into a single PDF. For instructions:
    1. Open the PDF Architect User Guide
    2. Navigate to Create Module > Merge Files
Replacing a signature page in a PDF documentPDF Architect (free version)
  1. Log in to gain access to the Create module.
    1. Select the 'File' tab.
    2. Click ‘Sign up with Microsoft’ button.
    3. Log in using your University of Waterloo Office 365 account (e.g. userid@uwaterloo.ca).
  2. Use the Delete tool to remove the blank signature page from the original PDF document. For instructions:
    1. Open the PDF Architect User Guide
    2. Navigate to Edit Module and Insert Module > Page Modify > Delete
  3. Use the Merge Files tool to combine the open PDF document with the signed page (PDF or image file). For instructions:
    1. Open the PDF Architect User Guide
    2. Navigate to Create Module > Merge Files
  4. If necessary, use the Move tool to place the signed page in the correct location. For instructions:
    1. Open the PDF Architect User Guide
    2. Navigate to Edit Module and Insert Module > Page Modify > Move

Need Help?

Contact the IST Service Desk at helpdesk@uwaterloo.ca or 519-888-4567 ext. 44357.