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Interesting PDF Tools

July 8th, 2011

adobelogoThere are many tools and utilities that exist that assist in the manipulation of Adobe PDF files, however, some seem more difficult to find than others. This is a list of some of those more difficult to find tools that are interesting and useful for the manipulation of PDFs. It is compiled here to serve as a reminder to me that these tools do exist, are useful and may come in handy one day.

Interesting PDF Tools
A-PDF Restrictions Remover can remove passwords from PDF files. It adds "Remove Restrictions" and "Remove Restrictions & Save as ..." to the Windows Explorer context menu. The free trial version simply works - unrestricted. There are many products that offer the ability to remove PDF restrictions and passwords, however, almost all of them have some sort of restriction to their own "free", "online" or "trial" product. This one works as advertised. Better yet, the price is simply unbelievable $9.99 with an unconditional 30 day money back guarantee. I can't remember the last time I have seen that kind of pricing structure.

A-PDF INFO Changer is a great utility for editing the PDF metadata information. It is free with no restrictions. Editable fields include Author, Title, Subject, and Keywords. I have used this on several occasions without issue. If you want a more robust version of this free utility, there is a command-line version, A-PDF INFO Changer Command Line, for a nominal cost. A benefit to the command-line version is bulk editing!

A-PDF Image to FlipBook creates an electronic book out of images. It is easy to use and the examples are very professional looking. There are many applications that exist that can create an online electronic book, but where this one stands out over the rest, in my opinion, is that when there is only one page the ebook centers itself on the screen, rather than sit to the left or right side of the screen. Most ebook generators create a finished product that looks good when there are two pages on the screen, however, not so good when only one page is on the screen. This application creates a great looking, professional design, electronic book.

A-PDF offers many interesting utilities for bulk and the occasional PDF manipulation. There are too many to discuss here, however, a few that I find interesting, unique, or immediately useful include A-PDF Explorer ,a Windows like explorer that includes PDF metadata fields and A-PDF Image Downsample to quickly reduce the PDF filesize by resampling the images using a GUI or command line for only $27!

This list contains unusual tools that do specific tasks that are not commonly referenced.

Tiff/PDF Page Counter (Windows command-line version) will return the page count of all tiff and/or PDF files. Get the Tiff/PDF Page Count you need - Easy! Simply point at either a single folder containing tiff/PDF files, or a top level folder containing may levels of subfolders and TiffPDFCounterCMD will drill down through the entire folder structure.

PDFResurrect analyzes PDF documents. "The PDF format allows for previous document changes to be retained in a more recent version of the document, thereby creating a running history of changes for the document. This tool attempts to extract all previous versions while also producing a summary of changes between versions. This tool can also "scrub" or write data over the original instances of PDF objects that have been modified or deleted, in an effort to disguise information from previous versions that might not be intended for anyone else to read."

pdf-parsey.py will parse a PDF document to identify the fundamental elements used in the analyzed file

make-pdf-javascript.py allows one to create a simple PDF document with embedded JavaScript that will execute upon opening of the PDF document. It’s essentially glue-code for the mPDF.py module which contains a class with methods to create headers, indirect objects, stream objects, trailers and XREFs.

pdfid.py is not a PDF parser, but it will scan a file to look for certain PDF keywords, allowing you to identify PDF documents that contain (for example) JavaScript or execute an action when opened. PDFiD will also handle name obfuscation.

PDF Scanner is designed to detect malicious PDFs. It can be run via command line.

While other tools exist to edit the details, compress PDFs, remove or add watermarks, or remove or add passwords, they generally are not free.

Interesting Articles about PDFs

This article, How PDF files hide malware - Example - PDF scan from Xerox, explains how the PDF was created using a Xerox copier and then analyzed for injected code.

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