Creating PDF Portfolios from MSG Files
An MSG file is an email message saved within Microsoft Outlook. It is common file format for exchanging email messages. The tutorial shows two different methods for creating PDF Portfolios from MSG files:
  • The first method uses both Microsoft® Outlook® and Adobe® Acrobat® applications to create a single PDF portfolio from a set of MSG files. This is the preferred method for handling email messages.
  • The second method uses just Adobe® Acrobat® to create a PDF portfolio from multiple MSG files. It can be used if Outlook is not installed or is not compatible with the version of Adobe® Acrobat® used.
The tutorial explains the differences between resulting PDF Portfolios produced by both methods.
What is MSG file format?
An MSG file is an email message saved within Microsoft Outlook email application. It may contain one or more email fields, which includes the date, sender, recipient, subject, and message body. An MSG file may contain file attachments including other MSG files. It is a hierarchical file format that may include multiple levels of attachments.
What is a PDF Portfolio?
A PDF Portfolio contains multiple files assembled into an integrated PDF unit. For example, a PDF Portfolio can include text documents, e-mail messages, spreadsheets, CAD drawings, and PowerPoint presentations. The original files retain their individual identities but are assembled into one PDF Portfolio file. It is important to understand that PDF Portfolio is not a PDF document. It is an archive of files stored inside a single file with a PDF extension. PDF portfolios are commonly used for storing emails exported from Microsoft Outlook. Every file inside a PDF Portfolio may contain associated metadata information. In case of emails, it can include "From", "To", "Subject", "Sent", "Description", "Attachments" and other fields. The list of fields depends on the type of the email messages and may vary. The metadata fields may be absent from the portfolio if it was not exported from Outlook, but created directly in Adobe Acrobat.
Why PDF Portfolio?
PDF Portfolio is used mainly for two purposes:
  1. To archive emails into PDF format while preserving metadata information.
  2. To use as input for the email conversion apps such as AutoPortfolio.
Drawbacks of PDF Portfolios for Storing Emails
  • Email messages are stored as separate PDF documents inside the PDF portfolio. This means multiple emails cannot be handled as a single PDF document.
  • Email attachments are not converted into PDF and remain as file attachments in their native formats.
You need a copy of the Microsoft® Outlook® and/or the Adobe® Acrobat® installed on your computer in order to use this tutorial.
How to Create PDF Portfolio Using the Microsoft® Outlook®
Step 1 - Import MSG Files into the Microsoft® Outlook®
Let's assume that there are multiple MSG files stored in a folder. Open the Microsoft® Outlook® and open the folder that contains *.MSG files in the Windows Explorer window. Select MSG files in the folder and drag and drop these files into the Microsoft® Outlook® window. You may consider creating a separate folder in Outlook for importing MSG files. Make sure to select this folder in Outlook prior to importing the files.
Import *.MSG Files into the Microsoft Outlook
Step 2 - Export Emails into a PDF Portfolio
Imported MSG files would be automatically converted into email messages in the Microsoft® Outlook® and placed into an Outlook folder of your choice. Select the emails in the Outlook by clicking on the first message, press Shift key and then click on the last message. This will select all messages in-between:
Select imported messages
Next, right-click and select "Convert to Adobe PDF" from the popup menu. If this menu entry is not present, then it means the Adobe® Acrobat® is either not properly installed or is not compatible with this version of Microsoft Outlook. Check the Adobe Acrobat compatibility chart for more information.
select Convert to Adobe PDF
Specify the output file name and location. Click "Save" to save selected emails into a PDF Portfolio.
Save PDF Portfolio
Step 3 - Inspect the PDF Portfolio
Open the PDF Portfolio in the Adobe® Acrobat®. The PDF Portfolio created by the Microsoft® Outlook® contains metadata for each email message. Depending on the specific email message, the following fields may be available: "Name", "From", "To", "Cc", "Bcc", "Subject", "Date", "Attachments", "Size" and etc. All email messages have been converted into PDF file format. Click "Open Document" to open any portfolio entry as a regular PDF document. Note that all email attachments still remain in their native formats. The attachments are not converted into PDF format during the export from Outlook.
Open PDF Portfolio
Each portfolio entry (email) could be opened in a separate tab:
Open as a separate document
How to Create PDF Portfolio Using the Adobe® Acrobat®
Step 1 - Import MSG Files into the Adobe® Acrobat®
Let's assume that there are multiple MSG files stored in a folder. Open the Adobe® Acrobat® and select "File > Create > PDF Portfolio..." from the menu.
Start creating PDF Portfolio
Select "Add Files... > Add Files..." in the "Create PDF Portfolio" dialog.
Click Add Files
Select the MSG files and click "Open".
Select *.MSG files
The selected files will appear in the "Create PDF Portfolio" dialog. Click "Create" to put the selected files into a PDF Portfolio.
Create PDF Portfolio
Step 2 - Inspect the PDF Portfolio
The PDF Portfolio will be opened automatically in the separate Adobe® Acrobat® tab. Note that the PDF Portfolio created by the Adobe® Acrobat® contains just MSG files. They haven't been converted into PDF file format. Each portfolio entry remains in MSG format and cannot be displayed directly in Acrobat as a regular PDF document. Click "Open Document" to open files in Microsoft Outlook for viewing. This is significant disadvantage of this method. However, if the portfolio is going to be used solely for email conversion by AutoPortfolio plug-in, then it does not really matter.
Open PDF Portfolio
Click "OK" to confirm:
Confirm opening
The document would be opened in the Microsoft® Outlook®.
The document would be opened in the Microsoft Outlook
Comparing Two Methods
The output PDF Portfolios produced by the two methods contain files in different file formats and differ significantly in functionality.
  1. The portfolio exported from Outlook converts each email into a separate PDF document, while the second method keeps each file in the native MSG file format.
  2. The portfolio exported from Outlook preserves the email metadata, while the other method does not.
  3. The portfolio exported from Outlook can be searched, viewied, and printed by any PDF viewer and does not require Microsoft Outlook.
  4. Exporting portfolios from Outlook requires more processing time than creating portfolios in Adobe Acrobat. This is due to the fact that each email is converted into a PDF format.
Bottom line: Exporting from Outlook is the preferred method for creating PDF portfolios for archiving emails.
However both kinds of PDF portfolios can be used by AutoPortfolio™ plug-in to convert emails and attachments into a single flat PDF document. The AutoPortfolio plug-in supports MSG-to-PDF conversion including multiple level attachments.
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