Exporting Outlook Emails into a PDF Portfolio File
It is often necessary to process emails stored within the Microsoft Outlook email program. Before processing these files, an essential first step is to export the necessary emails from Outlook as a PDF Portfolio file. These can later be converted into different PDF formats to easily display messages and associated attachments etc. This tutorial is a guide showing how to complete this first task. The resulting Portfolio file can then be used as an input document for email conversion applications such as AutoPortfolio™ for Adobe® Acrobat®.
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 a 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 the 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, and instead created directly in Adobe Acrobat.
PDF Portfolio vs PDF Document
PDF Portfolio is a collection of separate files. It is not a PDF document. Here are the advantages of the PDF Portfolio:
  • Can store multiple files of any type
  • Metadata fields can be associated with each file
  • Files can be sorted based on metadata fields (for example, "From", "To", "Subject")
Disadvantages of the PDF Portfolios depend on an application, but mostly originate from the fact that it is not a single PDF document:
  • No common bookmarks or links possible
  • No seamless navigation or viewing
  • Each file needs to processed separately
  • There is no any fixed order of the files
You need the Microsoft Outlook email program installed on your computer in order to use this tutorial. Portfolio files can be processed further via Adobe® Acrobat® along with the AutoPortfolio™ plug-in - both are available as trial versions.
Step 1 - Open PDF Conversion Settings
Begin by opening the Microsoft Outlook program. If you are performing the conversion for the first time, then it is necessary to check the Adobe PDF conversion settings to make sure they are properly configured. Select the "Acrobat" tab, then "Change Conversion Settings".
Step 2 - Configure Settings
Use the 'Acrobat PDFMaker' dialog to configure how Outlook emails are to be exported to PDF format. Ensure that "Attachments:" is set to "Include all attachments in the Adobe PDF" from the drop-down list. The "Output Adobe PDF Portfolio when creating a new PDF file" option should also be selected. You may also check other settings under “Compatibility” and “Page Layout” to make sure that they conform to your project requirements. In most cases, you do not need to make any other changes to these settings.
OPTIONAL: uncheck the "Block download of external content" option to allow the automatic download of external images contained within emails. This ensures the readability of receipt emails from airline companies, PayPal, and booking/order-taking sites such as Expedia, Amazon, and eBay that are formatted using images/graphics.
If necessary, use the "Restore Defaults" button to revert any unwanted changes. Press "OK" to close the dialog and return to Outlook.
Step 3 - Select Emails to Convert
Select an email folder that you want to convert to PDF Portfolio format. In this example, we will convert the entire "Inbox" folder. Right-click on the folder title (or one of the highlighted/selected emails), and select "Convert “XXX” to Adobe PDF" from the popup menu.
Alternatively, manually select specific emails within a folder by clicking on them whilst holding the 'Ctrl' key. Also use the 'Shift' key to select a range of emails. Hold the key down whilst clicking on the first and last emails in a list. All emails between them will be selected. Right click on any selected email and select the "Convert to Adobe PDF" option as normal. All selected emails will be processed.
IMPORTANT: If you do not see any Adobe PDF options in your copy of Outlook, check the version of Adobe Acrobat and verify that it supports the version of Outlook you are using. You may need to upgrade your copy of Adobe™ Acrobat™ to the latest version if the products are not compatible.
Step 4 - Specify Output Settings
Specify an output filename and location in the dialog that appears. Press OK to start the conversion.
After processing, the Portfolio file created will be saved in the chosen location. If the "View Result" checkbox is selected, the Portfolio will automatically open in Acrobat™ after being processed.
Step 5 - Inspect the Results
Open the Portfolio file in Acrobat to inspect it. All extracted email files will be listed, and can be placed in order of specific metadata fields by clicking on them ("From", "Subject, "Date" etc.). Navigate through email files, and select one from the list to open it in the viewer section below. All corresponding attachments can be accessed via the header section in each email file.
Right-click anywhere on the bar showing all metadata headers (“From”, “To”, “Subject” etc.) to access the “Sort by” and “View” options. Use “Sort by” to manually select which factor the email files are placed in order of.
“View” can be used to show all available metadata fields, and not only the default options. Use this menu to add/remove fields from the bar.
You can find more AutoPortfolio™ tutorials here.