I was at a meeting this week where I heard the comment
Adobe Reader can’t be used to fill out and save a PDF form.
Sigh. I hear that comment at least once a week. And it’s not true.The free Adobe Reader can be used to fill out and save PDF forms, as long as the person creating the PDF form has:
- Created a PDF form with form fields
- Enabled the PDF with usage rights in Acrobat Professional or Acrobat Professional Extended
Step 1, creating a PDF form, is another blog post. Or you can search your favorite search engine for the phrase
create a fillable PDF form.
Step 2 is easy to do. After the PDF form has been created, in Acrobat Professional or Acrobat Professional Extended:
- Choose Advanced > Extend Features in Adobe Reader
- Click Save Now
After usage rights are enabled, the PDF form has the following features in free Adobe Reader:
- Information can be entered in the form fields (for a fillable PDF form only.
- The PDF form can be saved and retains the information in the form fields
- Commenting and drawing mark up tools can be used
- A signature form field can be signed (if it exists)
- The document can be digitally signed anywhere on the page (only supported in Adobe Reader 8.0 or later)
Once usage rights are assigned, certain features, such as editing the PDF form to add more fields or additional pages, are not available. You will need to save a copy (File > Save a Copy) to edit the PDF form.
I’ve worked with many co-workers to create fillable PDF forms. But I often get calls and email messages asking why the form isn’t working. The last step, enabling usage rights for Adobe Reader, was forgotten.