A valuable piece of Quartz

When running variable data jobs, one often needs to deal with thousands of small PDF files or one big fat PDF. In both cases, it can take quite a bit of Acrobat time to make any changes to these files, and your system will need all of its resources.

By using Automator, you can bypass Acrobat and quietly and quickly make many changes to your PDF files. The Quartz filter will be your friend here, and it runs as an action under the PDF Library in Automator. You can set it up using either Automator or the ColorSync Utility in the Utilities folder of Applications.

There are a list of default settings available, but it is best to click the plus sign, create a new setting, and give it a name. Click the button at the right and a contextual menu appears. You have several choices available to adjust your PDFs:

In the “Add Colour Management” component, you may choose Assign Profile, Create a Default Profile, Rendering Intent, Intermediate Transform, or Convert to Profile. You are able to apply ICC profiles for each colour space, and you have the ability to only apply said profile to specific objects such as text, graphics, images, and shading. The Intermediate Transform has choices of Brightness, Tint, Hue, and Saturation. While you are working in an Automator Flow window, there is a before and after sample image to show the profile effect. Keep in mind that you can have multiple instances of the above 5 choices in any combination.

In the “Add Image Effects” component, you may choose Colour Image Sampling, Grey Image Sampling, Image Compression, or Image Convolution. Both Sampling Filters allow you to Scale by percentage, adjust resolution, set up a maximum and minimum for pixels, and choose the quality for the transformation. The compressions offer Automatic or JPEG compression with a min/max slider. The last item is a blur/sharpen filter, also with a slider.

In the “PDF Retouch” component, you may select Spot Colour or Separation Policy settings and there is also a PDF/X-3 section. You can set the trim and bleed boxes manually, assign a Destination Profile, Flatten Transparency with a specified resolution, and set a trapped flag.

Under “Domains” you’ll find Applications, PDF Workflows, and Printing.

There is also a “Comments” component.

Making any small change to a large file or to multiple files can monopolize a workstation using Acrobat Professional with Optimizer settings. Even the batching setup with Optimizer takes time. Using an Automator workflow frees up your Acrobat and runs quietly in the background. When you are creating your workflow, it will automatically ask you to make a copy and direct it to a folder when you select the action. Here are some other additions to complete the workflow:

For multiple files, add the action Combine PDF to pages before or after applying the Quartz Filter.

Have the Rename and Move Finder Items actions at the end, where they will route finished files to an Imposition or Press hot folder.

These features are available in Tiger as well as Leopard. The mighty little Automator handles large files and multiples of files like a pro. For more information on Automator actions, go to http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/automator/.