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PDF compatibility levels

When you create PDFs, you need to decide which PDF version to use. You can change the PDF version by switching to a different preset or choosing a compatibility option when you save as PDF or edit a PDF preset.

Generally speaking, unless there’s a specific need for backward compatibility, you should use the most recent version (in this case version 1.7). The latest version will include all the newest features and functionality. However, if you’re creating documents that will be distributed widely, consider choosing Acrobat 5 (PDF 1.4) or Acrobat 6 (PDF 1.5) to ensure that all users can view and print the document.

The following table compares some of the functionality in PDFs created using the different compatibility settings.

Acrobat 4 (PDF 1.3)

Acrobat 5 (PDF 1.4)

Acrobat 6 (PDF 1.5)

Acrobat 7 (PDF 1.6) and Acrobat 8 and Acrobat 9 (PDF 1.7)

PDFs can be opened with Acrobat 3.0 and Acrobat Reader 3.0 and later.

PDFs can be opened with Acrobat 3.0 and Acrobat Reader 3.0 and later. However, features specific to later versions may be lost or not viewable.

Most PDFs can be opened with Acrobat 4.0 and Acrobat Reader 4.0 and later. However, features specific to later versions may be lost or not viewable.

Most PDFs can be opened with Acrobat 4.0 and Acrobat Reader 4.0 and later. However, features specific to later versions may be lost or not viewable.

Cannot contain artwork that uses live transparency effects. Any transparency must be flattened prior to converting to PDF 1.3.

Supports the use of live transparency in artwork. (The Acrobat Distiller feature flattens transparency.)

Supports the use of live transparency in artwork. (The Acrobat Distiller feature flattens transparency.)

Supports the use of live transparency in artwork. (The Acrobat Distiller feature flattens transparency.)

Layers are not supported.

Layers are not supported.

Preserves layers when creating PDFs from applications that support the generation of layered PDF documents, such as Illustrator CS and later or InDesign CS and later.

Preserves layers when creating PDFs from applications that support the generation of layered PDF documents, such as Illustrator CS and later or InDesign CS and later.

DeviceN color space with 8 colorants is supported.

DeviceN color space with 8 colorants is supported.

DeviceN color space with up to 31 colorants is supported.

DeviceN color space with up to 31 colorants is supported.

Multibyte fonts can be embedded. (Distiller converts the fonts when embedding.)

Multibyte fonts can be embedded.

Multibyte fonts can be embedded.

Multibyte fonts can be embedded.

40-bit RC4 security supported.

128-bit RC4 security supported.

128-bit RC4 security supported.

128-bit RC4 and 128-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) security supported.