Can’t Save PDF Form in Acrobat Reader

Have you downloaded a PDF form that enables you to fill in the fields using Acrobat Reader? Many government forms such as federal and state tax return documents have this feature. Have you ever filled one in only to find that you can’t save all of the data you just typed in? That’s got to be one of the worst “features”, ever. What’s the point of being able to save the file without the data? Here’s a workaround.

The next time you see a PDF form that shows a message such as,

“You cannot save data typed into this form. Please print your completed form if you would like a copy for your records.”

do the following:

  1. Install a PDF printing tool such as the one included with the full Adobe Acrobat package or a free one such as PDFCreator.
  2. Fill in the PDF form as you normally would
  3. When you’re done with the form, print it
  4. Rather than using your default printer, select the one from the PDF tool you installed in step #1

Voila! Now you’ll have a PDF of the filled-in form to save for your records.

28 thoughts on “Can’t Save PDF Form in Acrobat Reader”

  1. That online service is OK for forms with data I don’t care about. But I wouldn’t use it for things such as tax return forms since the data goes to pdfescape’s servers.

    Just something to keep in mind. 🙂 Thanks for the info, Jay.

  2. I recommend Foxit Reader – it allows you to save filled forms and add/edit bookmarks. I think it is also a little faster than Adobe, but I’m not sure.

  3. Thanks
    You forgot to mention to rename the .prn to .ps to open it with PDF creator then save to pdf

  4. @dl: I never had to output to a .prn file, rename to .ps and then import. Printing to the PDFCreator device makes the PDF file with no extra steps.

  5. I have to submitt the FAFSA report as a pdf attachment. So when I opened the pdf file I can see my full FAFSA report. The company asked me to click on save to save it on my pc and then send it as an attachment. I’m running Vista Home Edition and I downloaded Adobe Reader 9.3 straight from their website. It came with something called “Adobe Air”, whatever that is. I have been able to save pdf files before, but this one, when I click on the icon for saving nothing appears ( the box for saving, that is ). I don’t know what to do …

  6. Perhaps the PDF file was set to not allow saving. If the PDF file you’re viewing is on a web page, right-click the link and choose Save As, Save Target As, Save Link As or whatever similar wording your browser uses.

  7. I need to prepare pdf forms with questions to the customers. Then they should fill them and send me back. How I can prepare saveable and printable pdf version in order the others to be able to fill the forms, save and send them. Without need to ask them to install some extra program. All this because Adobe Reader do not allow to save the filled forms. But I really can’t ask the customers for example to download pdfCreator, to print it as .prn file etc. Most of them even will not know what all that it is.

  8. @mishleto: You can create PDF files that will be able to be saved with Adobe Reader. It’s up to the person creating the PDF file to enable saving form data. The problem only occurs when the PDF file is restricted from saving. Then, Adobe Reader will not save it. So, just make sure that the program you use to create your PDF file allows the user to fill in and save the form data.

  9. @PeterRidge: Do you know how to create a fill in form in pdf where the recipient can save and email back to you? I have Acrobat 9 Standard. I can create forms, but they won’t let anyone fill in and save. Doesn’t seem very beneficial unless that feature is enabled..thanks in advance for your help.


  10. Thanks for this great and simple tip! I just tried it. I found this page by Googling “pdf form save data typed.” BTW I gently asked the people who had created the PDF form I was using if maybe they could re-do it to allow users to save data in it. They replied that this was the first time they’d heard of such a “problem” and that my file must be “corrupted.” Nice people, but rly! 🙂

  11. Yes, it is hard to comprehend that someone would create a pdf form you can enter the data into but not save the date you typed. Stupid.

    Having ranted about that, I downloaded Foxit and it immediately allowed me to save my entered data. It took me less time to download, install and begin using Foxit than it did to Google it and find it.

    Simple fix to problem.

  12. @ManFromUncle: Good suggestion. Thanks for sharing your solution. I’ll have to give it a try as well.

  13. While foxit may do all it says, you should be aware that this is a Chinese software company. Personally I wouldn’t let it near any sensitive files – who knows what it might send to where!?

  14. This is stupid.

    Come up with all the ‘why’s’ you want, it is still a stupid default.

    Way to go! Now we are all looking for a competitor to replace adobe pdf files!

  15. Hello, I have been searching for awhile now and came across this. I am using Acrobat 8 pro and need to create an artwork approval for to send to the customers. They need to be able to check mark something, add the day and type their signature. I am having problems with the customers that don’t have Acrobat, only reader. I can not ask my custmomers to download an extra program just to approve artwork. Does anyone know of a way to do this very easy for my customers? Is it even possible in Acrobat 8 pro?