Can I "paint over" ugly parts of a .PDF document?

I have scans of copies of books with shadows and black edges from the copying. Is there software that will let me “paint” these parts white? I know of the Acrobat plugin Quite Imposing, but that does many more things and costs almost $900. Just being able to mask out parts of the page would be a great help, and finding something much cheaper would be great. Suggestions?

Is the text also an image or is it machine readable? Do you want it to remain searchable text? If you’re indifferent, then wouldn’t any paint program work?

What about exporting the book (assuming there aren’t graphics layout oddities) to text or a Word/OpenOffice document then deleting the graphical artefacts from those programs? If you need the portability you could convert back to Acrobat.

In PDF XChange Viewer you could use the comment tools to create an opaque white rectangles (or other polygons or ellipses) that you could position over what you want to hide. You can then save the document with the “comments” in place. I have done this successfully to hide a bit of unwanted text. It is a bit of a kluge, though, and I do not think there is any way to prevent someone who views the document from erasing the rectangle (if they realize it is there) and seeing what is underneath. Still, the program is free (blue button on the right), and superior to Adobe viewer in several ways.

Probably you could do the same in any PDF viewer that has decent commenting tools.

Another way might be to convert the pages to graphic images, clean them up by hand in Photoshop or some similar graphic processing program, and then reassemble the page images into a PDF (which can be done with Word, at a pinch). This also allows you to correct the orientation of pages, if need be, using a “rotate” function. Your resulting PDF will be unsearchable and the text will not be copyable, but that may be the case anyway if your PDF is from a scan. I have done this with a scan that originally produced separate page images, rather than a PDF. Apart from having nasty black edges and shadows in the margins, a lot of these page images were crooked, or even upside-down, so it was nice to be able to correct the orientation by rotating them. You could also then recover some degree of searchability and copyability by running the resulting PDF through OCR (well, strictly speaking just CR) software. The free PDF-XChange Viewer linked above includes a suitable ‘OCR’ function.

Both of these methods, and probably any other you might use, are going to be pretty labor intensive, though.

Export them to graphic images (TIFF recommended). Clean up in any tool. Reassemble into PDF if you insist. There are a number of freeware and trial tools that will do it.

Can your reader crop the page, cutting the black edges off?

I’ve used the “paint” function, tools, eraser. You move the little eraser icon over the part of the picture you want to remove. Tedious for a lot of area/pages. I got to the paint feature by searching for “paint”.

What kind of computer do you have and what operating system?

If you have a Mac, open the PDFs in PREVIEW. It’s not a bad little PDF editor for basic stuff.

If you have access to Acrobat Pro you can use the redaction tool to remove what you don’t want.

This software is very good.

I use this as my default PDF viewer. Besides being free, you can use it to draw simple shapes on PDFs, adjust their opacity and even their blending mode. It’s also the only PDF viewer I’ve seen (free or not) that lets you draw on PDFs with your mouse or tablet.

Tip: I use it to greatly lighten ads on airline tickets before printing them.


Save ink. Every little bit helps.

I guess it was a two-edged ‘why’ - if you’re going to blank them out, why not blank them out altogether? I understand not bothering, and I understand blanking them (especially the dense ink-hogs), but… halfway?

Oh, just caution really. Will they reject a ticket if it’s missing something?

I installed the Pro XI trial, and the redaction tool is almost what we want. The trouble is that the box is not visible until you hover the mouse pointer over it. We need to be able to visually verify that all the shadows and such are all removed on a page before proceeding to the next page. We are dealing with over 10k individual pages that may need cleaning, and we can’t be hovering over every box to see that it’s going to block the right thing.

Is there a setting that will make the boxes visible at all times?

Since what you are doing is a graphical operation, you’d be far better off doing it in a graphical tool. Acrobat’s functional center is with generated live documents, not as a container for scanned images.

Mass export to TIFF. Clean up each page using a full toolset optimzed for that purpose. Reassemble into PDF.

You could apply the redaction just after you drag out the rectangle. I have a toolbar button set up for this so that it’s a bit easier.

I just checked with Acrobat 11 (I normally use 9) and it now allows you to set a fill color for the redaction marks. To do so, select: Tools > Protection > Redaction Properties > Redaction Mark Appearance > Fill Color

We are dealing with well over half a million corrections inside 3 weeks. Bulk solutions are the only real options, not things like “apply” on every single page.

OK, not half a million, but probably over 50K.

It also allows you to set the transparency of the fill, which may be useful.