Saving PDF files that have fallen to pieces

ImageIf you have ever dealt with a PDF file that had its images broken into tiny pieces, your first reaction is to try your best to get the original files. 

But what happens when you have the original files and the PDF you create still has the images in pieces?
Photographers often use freeware programs available on the internet for processing images.  These programs are designed to deal with JPEGs, and they often have problems in their treatment of TIFF files, which is where the problem of image pieces originates.
Once you receive the pieced image, the damage is already done.  One choice, if you have the original files, is to re-save every image in

Photoshop as a TIFF file and that will fix it. Update the layout files and make a new PDF.
You can also try to optimize the PDF in Acrobat and select the “Detect and merge image fragments” under the Discard Objects of the PDF Optimizer. This doesn’t always fix everything, but sometimes you get lucky.

If no original files are available, you can use Creative Suites to fix your problem.

In your Acrobat Professional preferences, go to the “TouchUp” category.  Your Image Editor should be set to Adobe Photoshop and your Page/Object Editor should be set to Adobe Illustrator. You can browse to your applications folder and find them if they are not set.

You will find the “TouchUp Object” tool under Tools –> Advanced Editing.  It is tricky, but you can select the pieces of the image you want to fix. You can select all the images at once, including the background if you want  (you’ll see where I am going with this in a minute).
Once selected, Ctrl and click to bring up the contextual menu.  At the bottom of the menu you should see “Edit Objects”.  Select this option and Illustrator will launch and open a temporary PDF file that is numbered with all the selected pieces in place. This file is linked to Acrobat automatically.

Depending on your Creative Suites settings it may ask you if you want CMYK or RGB and ask you about colour profiles.  Make your choice, then:
1.    Select All using the main selection tool.  (cmd A)
2.    Select Object –> Rasterize
3.    Select Save (cmd S)
4.    Close the window (cmd W)

Now, go back to the Acrobat file.  When you select the images with the TouchUp Object tool again it should now be one image.  Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work for you the first time.  The save should not be interrupted, so don’t be in a hurry to close the Illustrator window.  If it doesn’t work, just try again, it will.

You can ctrl click on the image and it will now say, at the bottom of the contextual menu, “Edit Image”.  When you select “Edit Image”, it will launch Photoshop and a similar temporary PDF file will open with the image.  You will get a message warning that any new layers you create will need to be flattened before saving.

You now have the power to colour correct any part of this image, sharpen, or just inspect if you want.  Once you save and close the window the changes you have made will be applied to the Acrobat document.

Once you are done, remember to use “Save As” in Acrobat, preferably with a new name.  This selection will optimize the file and throw away unused junk in the file.

Using the TouchUp object tool, you have the power of both Illustrator and Photoshop built into Acrobat. Use your Illustrator skills to fix bad flattening, and to add text and effects.  Use Photoshop to colour correct and add effects—remember that if you add text, the layers must be flattened before saving.

So next time you see a bad PDF file, don’t despair—you can bring peace to the pieces using Creative Suite.
Andrea Mahoney
Workflow Automation Specialist
TriBay Enterprise