After reading numerous posts (like this one) that pose the question, I decided that it’s about time to share my methods for batch optimizing my sheet music scans using Acrobat.
“Optimizing” PDFs, if you’re not familiar with the term, basically does a few things – deskews (straightens), despeckles (removes background noise), and shrinks the file size. That last one is the one that most iPad users are after – more space means more music you can fit, and means faster loading on the iPad.
The standard way to do this is to open the PDF in Acrobat and select Document > Optimize Scanned PDF.
Having to do this with each document individually , however, gets tedious. Luckily, Acrobat actually has a pretty powerful Batch Processing function that allows users to create a series of commands that can be automatically run on a group of documents, that will save the user tons of time. Here’s how I created my Batch Optimize action (instructions created on a Mac, running Acrobat 9.5.1, FYI):
- Go to Advanced > Document Processing > Batch Processing…
- Select “New Sequence…” and name it something meaningful (e.g. “Batch Optimize”)
- On the next screen, click “Select Commands…” – you should be able to find Optimize Scanned PDF in the Document folder on the next popup. Select it, and click “Add >>” to add it to the sequence.
- Double click the Optimize Scanned PDF action on the right side to adjust the settings for the action. Here are my settings that I find to produce good-quality scans for a new iPad with retina:
- Click OK to return to the main window for your new Sequence. Keep #2 (Run commands on:) set to “Ask When Sequence is Run.” You can choose your own preference for #3 (Select output location) – if you leave it at “Same folder as originals,” it’ll overwrite the originals. For me, that’s fine, but if it’s not for you, then you can select either Specific Folder or Ask When Sequence is Run.
- Select OK when you’re done, and now your new Batch Sequence should appear in the menu. Select it and click “Run Sequence” – choose your files and go!
For what it’s worth, I have created another Batch Sequence for tagging my music, forgoing the outdated forScore app for Mac. Most of the music I tag is guitar music for church, so I’ve created a Sequence (using the Description command) that will tag the PDFs (using Subject and Author, which forScore will interpret as Genre and Composer), and leave the title as is. So, as long as I title my pieces correctly while scanning, I run two Batch Sequences and my music is forScore-ready. Heck, if I wanted to, I could even combine those two into one Process – maybe I’ll get to work doing that.
So, there you have it. Granted, I do have access to Acrobat Pro through work, so I didn’t have to fork over the money for it. For those of you in a similar situation, I hope this helps. Acrobat is capable of so much more than I even know, so in a way it’s overkill, but you can’t argue with results.