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I'd like to make colour adjustments to an existing PDF file, the equivalent of Photoshop's adjustments, and save a new version with the altered colours.

I'm after more than a colourspace conversion. I'd like to take a file that's black and white, and convert it into green, blue, yellow, pink etc versions. It's upwards of 100 pages full of text and graphic elements, so doing it by hand isn't really an option.

Is there any way of achieving this?

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Adjusting colors in PDF files is quite a difficult task. There isn't a Photoshop equivalent. Your best bet is to get yourself a copy of Acrobat plus a plug-in called PitStop Professional. It won't be cheap, but like I said, it's not an easy task and you will not find any free or cheap programs that come close to doing what you're trying to accomplish.

For a primer on PDF and color, there are a bunch of articles on PDF color at Planet PDF that you can read.

  • PitStop claims to do it, but like you say, it's not cheap. – Marcus Downing Jan 16 '11 at 15:01
  • Yep, but PDF files are very complex, so if you do purchase PitStop make sure that you test their trial version first to make sure it will work with your PDF files. – Rowan Jan 16 '11 at 18:06
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I eventually got a working solution from this Stack Overflow question, thanks to Mark Storer of iText.

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The (not free) Infix PDF Editor can do this. This is the article about that. But the colors you want to change may be the part of the pictures, so it does not change the colors of the pictures by that color replacement, so you have to replace that pictures manually using PDF editor.

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