How to install the 2012 digital edition of “Evidence Explained” on your PC


When at the 2013 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) earlier this month, I learned one of my classmates had lugged two weighty tomes to Salt Lake City: “Professional Genealogy” (aka “ProGen”) and “Evidence Explained” (EE). Both are essential reference works for the serious genealogist, but at 654-pages and 885-pages respectively, they’re not books you typically want to carry with you when traveling any great distance.

What was most surprising to me is this same person also brought along a laptop and an iPad. Although ProGen is not yet available in digital format, I questioned why she hadn’t simply purchased and installed the digital edition of Evidence Explained. (Yes, it will set you back another $29.95, but that is nothing when compared to luggage overage limits for air travel.) She responded by saying that although she had purchased the book in electronic format, she had been unable to figure out how to get the digital edition installed.

I had some trouble with that, too.

Although the Evidence Explained bookstore is quite clear that what you are getting when making your purchase is an Adobe DRM version of the eBook, somehow I simply glossed over the “DRM” portion of that description. I knew DRM means “digital rights management” and that it is a way that artists and authors, like Elizabeth Shown Mills, protect their work against piracy and copyright infringement. However, I had previously purchased the EE 2007 edition several years ago and recalled that version of the eBook was a regular PDF file format that opened in the free version of Adobe Reader. What tripped me up this time around is that when I attempted to download the EE 2012 edition, what I got was an *.acsm file, which I could not open using Adobe Reader. So, I did what anyone would have done: kept clicking. Nothing happened, or so I thought. In actuality, I exhausted my four allowable downloads of EE but was unaware of that at the time due to web page caching issues.

I researched *.acsm files and learned they are Adobe Content Server files designed to protect “PDF and reflowable EPUB eBooks for Adobe Digital Editions software and supported mobile devices”.1 Being unfamiliar with Adobe Digital Editions (ADE), I went to the Adobe Systems website at and learned that it, thankfully, was a free download. Ultimately, through the novel concept of actually reading the FAQ at Evidence Explained and the FAQ for ADE, I now understood the process to download and authorize the purchased file. Imagine my surprise when I learned I was out of downloads. Fortunately, the tech support rep readily understood my problem and re-enabled my download link.

I was finally successful installing EE on my laptop at home and on my iPad, which I took with me when I went to SLIG. When I learned of my classmate’s travails, I could definitely sympathize, and walked her through the process. It was a bit late to prevent her from bringing the hardback copy of EE with her to school, but perhaps these instructions will assist readers of this blog.

Here are the 5 steps to download, install and authorize the “Evidence Explained” eBook on a Windows PC or laptop:

1.  Purchase the 2012 digital edition of Evidence Explained at the website’s book store by navigating to You will need to set up an account at the book store to complete your purchase.

Do *NOT* attempt to download the eBook just yet! If you do, you will get an URLLink.acsm file. This is essentially a license file that you cannot do anything with initially without ADE installed. It is not the eBook.

urllink.acsm file

2. Set up a free Adobe ID account at

Setup Adobe ID

Don't have an Adobe ID?

Fill in required information

3. Download the free Adobe Digital Editions software from the website: This is the software that will allow you to open DRM-protected PDF files.

ADE downloads available for Windows and Mac

ADE should be downloaded and installed to a Windows or Mac computer, not to a smartphone or tablet.

4. Once installed, authorize your copy of ADE with the Adobe ID you created in Step 2 by going to Help > Authorize Computer.

Help>Authorize Computer

Input the e-mail address and password you set up in Step 2, and then click Authorize.

ADE authorization

ADE authorization success

5. Go back the EE bookstore, and download your “Evidence Explained” eBook file.

EE 2012 download

Your eBook will open in Adobe Digital Editions!

Evidence Explained Second Edition, 2012 (Digital Edition)Evidence Explained (Second Edition) by Elizabeth Shown Mills, as seen in the Adobe Digital Editions software.

Not only does having the digital edition of “Evidence Explained” save room and weight in my backpack when on the road, but being able to keyword search for terms is a fantastic bonus. I especially like viewing it on my iPad, but those directions will have to wait until another day.

Sources: : accessed 31 Jan 2013.

Post last updated 03 Feb 2013

From PDF to Evernote

In my presentation entitled “Evernote for Genealogists” given at the Seattle Genealogical Society last Saturday (10/6/2012), I demonstrated some ways in which genealogists can use Evernote to record their research as it unfolds. Even though I had 90-minutes and a three-page syllabus, it still wasn’t enough time or space to delve into some of the details. Since I find Evernote to be an indispensable tool, I have decided to use this blog to share the occasional tip for genealogists (or any researcher, really) wanting to incorporate Evernote into his or her digital research process. In this example, I will use the NGS Magazine to illustrate this useful application.

One of the benefits of membership in the National Genealogical Society (NGS) is a subscription to NGS Magazine, a quarterly publication filled with useful articles for genealogists. Members are able to access PDF copies of the magazine by logging into the “Members Only” section of the website. You could download and store the entire issue in Evernote, but that would take up unnecessary space, and invariably include material like advertising that you may not wish to archive.

Today’s Evernote tip is how to extract a few pages from a larger PDF file using Adobe Acrobat and save those pages in Evernote for later reference. There are several different ways to accomplish this task that come readily to mind. I will share one method here. In my example, I am using an older version of Adobe Acrobat Standard (version 6.0 for Windows) and the free Evernote desktop client version 4.5.8.

  1. Download the complete PDF file to your computer.
  2. Open the downloaded file in Adobe Acrobat (not the free Adobe Acrobat Reader – there is a difference).
  3. Click the Pages tab on the left side of the window to expose thumbnail images of the pages within the file.

    Adober Acrobat | Pages tab

  4. Click the first page you want to extract, then press and hold the Ctrl key on your keyboard. Click the other three pages (then let go). You should see blue borders around the four thumbnail images indicating your selection.

  5. Right-click and select Extract Pages.Acrobat | Extract pages
  6. Press OK to confirm your selection in the Extract Pages dialog box.
  7. Save your extracted pages somewhere you can find later by going to File > Save As on the Adobe Acrobat menu. Browse to the location you want to save to, rename the file if you like, and click Save.
  8. In Evernote, click New Note.Evernote | Toolbar showing new note
  9. Right-click in the newly created blank note and click Attach File.Evernote | Attach Files
  10. Browse to the location you saved the file to in step 7, then click Open. Your extracted PDF article will appear in Evernote as a new note!

Evernote | Extracted pages from fileExtracted PDF article attached as a note in Evernote.1 The article text and a portion of the photograph have been deliberately blurred since I do not have permission to republish the article. The attached article in Evernote is for my own personal research.

The photograph used by the author in the above article is part of the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs housed at the Library of Congress. See a close-up of the image here:

1 The article of interest was authored by Claire Prechtel-Kluskens, “Compiled Military Service Records, Part III: The record of events,” NGS Magazine, September 2012, 28-31; downloaded from the National Genealogical Society website ( : 07 October 2012.

[Post edited 2 Jan 2018]