Posts Tagged ‘tool’

How to edit PDF files for free

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

I had a PDF form which I needed to fill in. The form was not editable, but I still wanted some way to fill in the fields on the computer rather than having to print it out and fill it in by hand.

A quick search shows that there are many other people wanting to do the same thing, but there aren’t many solutions that actually work. Many of the suggestions/solutions that I found online didn’t work at all. These were my requirements:

  • Add text to an existing uneditable PDF.
  • Save the PDF with the new text in place.
  • Ability to re-open the PDF and continue editing the newly added text.
  • I wasn’t interested in the ability to edit the PDF form itself – only the new text that I added.
  • The software should be free.
  • I didn’t want software with a time limited trial.
  • The software had to leave no watermarks on the PDF.
  • I wanted PC based software rather than web based – I don’t want to have to submit my PDFs to some company that I may never have heard of.

The software that I found that allowed me to fill in my PDF forms as per my requirements was called PDF-XChange Viewer.

How to install the PDF editing software

The easiest way to install PDF-XChange Viewer is to download the EXE installer from their webpage. You should be careful when installing, as by default it will change some of your computer’s settings and try to install a browser toolbar.

On the ‘Select Components’ screen I deselected everything except for the help file. I don’t want any extra menus added to Windows Explorer, browser extensions, or automatic update checking. This is a tool that I’m only going to use occasionally so I want it be unobtrusive when not in use.

pdf editor install 1

Then on the ‘Select Additional Tasks’ screen I made sure that the ‘Set PDF-XChange Viewer as default viewer for PDF files’ was unticked. I want to continue to use Adobe Reader for viewing PDFs.

pdf editor install 2

On the ‘Install the Tracker Ask Toolbar’ screen I unticked the top option. It would be easy to misread it if you are quickly clicking through the install, and think that this option is just to agree to the main licence terms. But read carefully and you’ll see that it is for agreeing to the licence terms for the Ask Toolbar and confirming that you want to install it. So untick it unless you want the Ask Toolbar.

pdf editor install 3

Finally when I started the tool for the first time I told it not to make PDF-XChange Viewer the default PDF viewer, and set the option for it not to ask me again.

How to add text to your PDFs

After carefully completing the install this is how to add text to your existing PDFs. I’m using a random uneditable PDF that I found on the internet.

First load the PDF into PDF-XChange Viewer. You should be able to figure out how to do that yourself!

The easiest way to write on the PDF is with the ‘Typewriter Tool. Go to Tools->Comment and Markup Tools->Typewriter Tool->Default Style to select it.

pdf editor typewriter tool

Then you can simply click anywhere on the document and start typing. You’ll see the Typewriter Tool cursor where the text will appear.

editing a pdf

To test that your changes get saved properly: save a copy of the PDF and then load it into Adobe Reader.

To test that you can re-edit your text additions: load the PDF back into PDF-XChange Viewer and try re-editing your text. You can double-click on your text to get the editing cursor back. And you can right click on any of your new text boxes to get the option to delete them.

How to recover accidentally deleted files

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

It is something that has happened to most of us. We are writing an essay or doing some other piece of work on the computer and it accidentally gets deleted or corrupted.

At this point you are probably upset or maybe even distraught – depending on how much you have lost. You probably remember being told something about keeping backups and wished that you had. You promise to keep backups next time.

Is there any chance to recover your work?

Fortunately there is a chance. When you delete a file in Windows the actual file contents aren’t deleted. All that is deleted is the index entry that points to the file. So as long as you don’t write any more data to the disk there is a chance you will be able to get the data back. This applies whether the data is on your hard disk, USB stick or other removable drive.

Don’t write any data to the disk

As I stated above your data will probably still be there on the disk, but if you write any more data to the disk then your data could get overwritten and you will have no chance to get it back. Here are some tips to avoid overwriting your data:

  • Don’t save any files to disk.
  • Don’t browse the web if the deleted file is on your hard disk (as you look at web sites temporary files are written to the disk).
  • If you use an offline email program such as Thunderbird don’t download any more emails (again the new email data could overwrite your deleted file).
  • Don’t download / install any updates or software.

In other words – don’t do anything! Anything that writes to your disk could destroy the chance of recovering your file.

How to attempt to get your work back

There are many file recovery programs that you can download. Most of them are commercial and cost money. I’m not going to mention any of them because there is a completely free piece of software that does an excellent job of recovering files from your computer or USB drive.

It is called Recuva and is made by the same people who wrote the ever popular CCleaner. You can download Recuva for free from recuva.com.

recuva file recovery software

However if your deleted work is on your hard disk then don’t download it using the same computer! You might overwrite the data. The best thing is to use another computer and install Recuva onto a USB drive. Obviously if your deleted work was on the USB stick then don’t install Recuva onto the USB stick – install it onto the hard disk. Then run Recuva from either the normal Start menu (if you installed it onto the hard drive) or directly from the USB drive if you installed it there from another computer – just double click on recuva.exe in the folder on your USB drive where you installed it.

Choose the disk where your deleted file used to be and press ‘scan’. Hopefully your file will be found and you will have the option to recover it. When you choose to recover the file it is best to save it to a different drive to avoid overwriting any other data if there are multiple files you are trying to recover. E.g. if the deleted file is on a USB drive then recover it to your hard disk and vice versa.

If the default scan does not find your file then there are some other options you can enable. Click on ‘options’ and then tick ‘deep scan’. If you are recovering work from a USB stick then you can try the ‘scan for non-deleted files’ option as well.

recuva scanning options

Recovering previous versions of files

The Recuva software may help you to recover previous versions of your files as well. If have made a mess of your essay or dissertation and you don’t have a back up of a good version (very bad!) then there is a *small* chance that a previous version of the file will be on your disk as well. This is because when performing the ‘save’ function some software (not all though) deletes the old version of the file from the disk and writes a completely new version of the file to the disk. Therefore the old version of the file may now be a ‘deleted’ file. Give it a go and see if you can recover previous versions of your work.

Fingers crossed!

I hope you managed to recover your work. Let me know about your success (or lack of) by leaving a comment.

While using the Recuva software you may have spotted many files that you had hoped were deleted (i.e you deliberately tried to delete them) are actually still there. I’m intending to write another post at some point to explain how to make sure files that should be deleted (and not found again) are securely got rid of.


nbClipboard – a clipboard extender

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Overview

nbClipboard adds stack, queue and simple text transformations to the Windows clipboard when using the clipboard’s keyboard shortcuts.

As well as storing successive clipboard items in either a queue or a stack nbClipboard can perform search/replace operations on the clipboard data and can automatically convert the text to either upper or lower case.

This tool can be left running in the background or you can make the window stay on top or become transparent.

It is necessary to have the .NET framework version 3.0 installed for nbClipboard to work. Version 3.0 of the framework is pre-installed on Windows Vista and can be downloaded from Microsoft’s website as an additional download for Windows XP.

Download

You can download nbClipboard from this link: nbClipboard – installer download – (333kb)

Manual

Introduction

nbClipboard is a simple tool that adds stack and queue support as well as basic text transformations to the Windows clipboard when using the clipboard’s keyboard shortcuts.

As well as storing successive clipboard items in either a queue or a stack nbClipboard can perform search/replace operations on the clipboard data, and can automatically convert the text to either upper or lower case.

This tool can be left running in the background or you can make the window stay on top or become transparent.

It is necessary to have the .NET framework version 3.0 installed for nbClipboard to work. Version 3.0 of the framework is pre-installed on Windows Vista and can be downloaded from Microsoft’s website as an additional download for Windows XP.

Installation

To install double-click on the install executable and follow the instructions. nbClipboard requires version 3.0 or above of the .NET framework. This can be downloaded from Microsoft’s .NET Download page.

Usage

Launch nbClipboard from the Start menu.

When it is loaded you will be see the main configuration screen. From here you can turn the clipboard queue or stack on, and can set the text transformation settings.

If you want to work with non-text clipboard data (files, photo data etc.) you should close nbClipboard as nbClipboard will case problems with non-clipboard data.

Clipboard queue and stack

The clipboard queue and stack allow multiple items to be copied to the the clipboard and then pasted in order.

The queue will paste items in the same order they are copied.

Example: You copy the following items of text – ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘three’, ‘four’. When you paste them they are pasted in this order – ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘three’, ‘four’.

The stack will paste items in the reverse order to what they are copied. i.e. the last item to be copied to the clipboard will be the first item to be pasted.

Example: You copy the following items of text – ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘three’, ‘four’. When you paste them they are pasted in this order – ‘four’, ‘three’, ‘two’, ‘one’.

Note

nbClipboard will only add text to the queue or stack when the copy and paste operations are performed using the keyboard shortcuts. It will not operate when copy and paste operations are caried out using the mouse.

Text transformations

To upper / lower case

Text which has been copied can automatically be converted into either upper or lower case.

Text replacements

You can do an automatic search / replace operation on any pasted text. You can choose to make the search case sensitive by ticking the ‘Match case’ box.

Note

The text transformations will only be applied when the text is pasted using the keyboard paste shortcut. It will not work when text is pasted from a menu.

List of copy / paste keyboard shortcuts

Copy Ctrl-C Ctrl-Insert
Paste Ctrl-V Shift-Insert
Cut Ctrl-X Shift-Delete

Limitations

nbClipboard currently only deals with plain text. Therefore whilst it is running any rich text items copied, or non-text items copied to the clipboard may lose their formatting.

Revision History

  • 1.1.0 – Fixed case-insensitive search and replace bug where only the first occurance would be replaced.
  • 1.0.0 – Initial version

Credits

Portions of nbClipboard are based on the Global System Hooks tutorial by Michael Kennedy.

Installer created using ISTool.

Table of contents generated with hypertoc.

If you are interested in the background of this tool you can read my Writing and releasing a free software tool in two weeks post.