Welcome to CommonLook PDF GlobalAccess

On this page: Quick Start Guide | Opening the Software | Toolbars, Tabs, and Ribbons | The Workspace

CommonLook PDF is a software application and plugin to Adobe Acrobat Professional and Standard which simplifies the remediation of PDF files so that they are accessible to people with disabilities. As more and more individuals and organizations strive to be more socially responsible and to comply with various accessibility standards and disability laws and regulations, CommonLook PDF serves as an essential tool in that pursuit. This is true primarily for two reasons:

  1. CommonLook PDF greatly reduces the time and effort required to turn an inaccessible PDF file into one that can be used by persons with disabilities such as blindness, low vision, and limited mobility.

  2. CommonLook PDF measures the compliance of PDF files against the checkpoints set forth by a number of authoritative accessibility standards such as Section 508, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0), PDF/UA (ISO 14289), and the document accessibility standard set forth by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). By validating against the primary globally recognized standards established for document and PDF content accessibility, CommonLook PDF provides you with the means of ensuring your content can be produced in a manner that is likely to be acceptable to the regulatory jurisdiction governing your content.

Follow this link for a complete list of the features available in CommonLook PDF.

Remediator’s Tip:  Using CommonLook PDF to fix your PDFs will not change the physical appearance of the document!

The CommonLook PDF Quick Start Guide

This User’s Guide describes and introduces users to the interface, functionality, and options available in CommonLook PDF.

A Quick Start Guide for Learning CommonLook PDF

In addition to this online documentation, we provide other resources to help people become more familiar with using the CommonLook PDF software.  Follow this link to download a sample PDF document to practice using with CommonLook PDF and this link to the Quick Start Guide with instructions, tips, and tricks on how to fix the sample PDF document.  While the sample PDF document may seem relatively simple, users will gain experience with heading levels, lists, tables, figures, artifacts, reading order including text in multiple columns, and more – all of which are often experienced in larger “real world” files.  The Quick Start Guide uses a step by step approach to identifying and locating the various issues in the sample file and how to fix them.

Getting Started – How to Open CommonLook PDF

  1. Open a tagged PDF document in Adobe Acrobat (Standard, Professional, or DC).
  2. In the Acrobat toolbar, choose Plug-Ins, scroll to CommonLook, and select CommonLook PDF GlobalAccess.

The Plug-Ins tab in Adobe Acrobat showing the option for CommonLook and Commonlook PDF GlobalAccess





If the PDF isn’t tagged, an error message, like the one pictured below, will appear, stating that the document is untagged and that the user should add tags in Acrobat before opening CommonLook.

The error message from CommonLook indicating that the PDF is not tagged and that tags need to be added in Acrobat before opening CommonLook PDF GlobalAccess.

Using the Concurrent Licensing Model – If CommonLook Won’t Open and the Document Has Tags

When opening CommonLook PDF, the software will “ping” the server to see if there are any available “seats” for the licensing key.  If there are “seats” available, CommonLook will open.  If there aren’t any “seats” available then an error message, like the one below, will be displayed, telling the user that CommonLook is unable to connect to the server and requesting that the user try again later.

The CommonLook GlobalAccess License Overload error message.

Toolbars, Tabs, and Ribbons

When opening CommonLook PDF, users will see the Quick Access Toolbar, Tabs, and the Ribbon (with tagging tools organized in Groups on the Ribbon).  Page 2 of this manual will explain the purpose and/or function of each button in the Quick Access Toolbar, Tabs, and Ribbon.  Follow this link for Page 2 – The Toolbar and Ribbon.

Screen shot of the toolbar and Ribbon in CommonLook PDF Global Access.

The Workspace

Below the Ribbon, in the center of the screen, the Physical View of the document is displayed.  The Physical View is what a person would be holding onto if the document was to be printed in hard copy format.  In addition, a variety of Panels are available to assist in remediating the document.  These panels, explained in more detail on subsequent pages (as well as in the Quick Start Guide), can be opened, closed, hidden, and/or moved as needed.

A screen shot of the user interface in CommonLook PDF GlobalAccess.

Next Pages

Follow the links below to view other pages in the software manual:

Page 1- Welcome, Getting Started

Page 2 – The Toolbar and Ribbon

Page 3 – Insert Tag and Convert Tag Tabs

Page 4 – The Settings Tab

Page 5 – The Windows Tab

Page 6 – The Operations Tab

Page 7 – The Tag Properties Panel

Page 8 – The Integrity Validator

Keyboard Shortcuts