How to work with forms in Adobe Reader XI

Learn how to complete forms using Reader or fill in forms using the free Reader.

By September 30, 2012

 

Did you know Adobe Reader XI now allows you to complete forms using Reader or fill in forms using the free Reader? Whether your PDF form has fillable fields or not, you'll still be able to print and save all your information.

This feature does not work with forms that are developed using Adobe LiveCycle Designer.

View transcript

How to work with forms in Adobe Reader XI

Lori KassubaSeptember 30, 2012

  1. Adobe Reader XI now allows you to complete forms using Reader and save form data in any fillable PDF form.
  2. You will always see this purple message bar in a form that can be filled out and saved in Adobe Reader XI.
  3. If you don’t see that purple message bar on a form then there are no fillable form fields.
  4. To fill out a form without fillable form fields open the Comment pane, Annotations panel, and select the Add Text Comment tool.
  5. Insert your cursor in the form and begin typing. Save the form.

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Products covered:

Acrobat XI Pro

Related topics:

Adobe Reader, Create and analyze forms

Top Searches:

PDF, PDF Reader , HTML forms, Online forms, Web forms, Online form builder


38 comments

Lori Kassuba

1 month ago

Hi m. Merchant,

When you first open the PDF, does it say you can sign the PDF form under File > Properties?

Thanks,
Lori

m. Merchant

1 month ago

In reply to your kind response.  I am working only in Reader when I open, fill and save the fillable PDF form.  I am not in the browser at all.  The blank pdf is supplied by the FDA.  Once filled while in Reader, I am required to save it before I can activate the Sign function. To save I use the File/Save As command in the Reader toolbar.  As soon as I do this, the fillable form properties changes to longer being eligible to be digitally signed.  If the same FDA form is filled and saved by the same method using Acrobat Pro 9 or IX, I am able to digitally sign the filled form and save the signed form.

Lori Kassuba

1 month ago

Hi M. Merchant,

When you save the PDF from your web browser, are you using the save icon in Reader? If the toolbar isn’t appearing when opening a PDF in your web browser you can display it by checking the preference under Edit > Preferences > Internet uncheck Display in “Read Mode by Default” in Reader. It seems in some web browser, the PDF file gets messed up unless you use this method to save the file.

Thanks,
Lori

M. Merchant

1 month ago

When I complete a fillable pdf, a form provided by FDA, I am required to save it before I can digitally sign.  After saving the form cannot be digitally signed.  The properties of the filled from say “cannot be signed”.  Any suggestions to allow signing of the form?  Thanks

Lori Kassuba

1 month ago

Hi Jodi,

This is not a bug - this is how Reader XI was designed. Folks using LiveCycle products are directed toward using the LiveCycle Reader Extension Server-based product.

Thanks,
Lori

Jodi

12, 2014-02-18 18, 2014

Is there a reason why data cannot be saved in Adobe Reader XI from a LiveCycle designer form?  For those of us that love LiveCycle and have been creating forms in it for years now - how are our users supposed to save their information in the forms? Is this a bug that is going to be fixed?

Lori Kassuba

9, 2014-01-17 17, 2014

Hi David Bernier,

There are usually two possibilities when you cannot select text. First,
document security may have been set to disallow this. If so, you’ll see an lock icon in the left-hand navigation pane. You can open this to check the security settings. Second, this PDF could be just an image (like a scan). To check, try searching for a word within your form.

Lori

David Bernier

1, 2014-01-14 14, 2014

I am filling in a “fillable form” using Acrobat Reader XI.  I want to highlight text.  When I click the highlight button, I get the special ICON, but I cannot get it to do anything.

How do I highlight text?

Lori Kassuba

11, 2013-12-16 16, 2013

Hi Linda,

Are you using Adobe Reader XI and not an earlier version?

Thanks,
Lori

Linda

4, 2013-12-12 12, 2013

Hi,

I am unable to print in my form that is pdf so I tried opening the comment panel and followed the instructions but it still wont work, am i doing something wron.

Lori Kassuba

9, 2013-10-08 08, 2013

Hi Carol,
In the Reader print dialog, there is a section called Page Sizing & Handling. In this section select the Booklet button and make sure “left” is selected for the Binding.

Thanks,
Lori

Carol

3, 2013-10-05 05, 2013

need to print an ebook and want the first page to print on the right hand side of the booklet. using Adobe 11.0.4. can you help me.

Rand User

1, 2013-09-29 29, 2013

Adobe Acrobat XI Pro cannot create fill-able forms that can be saved by users of Adobe Reader unless you also have Adobe LiveCycle Designer, which is sold separately.

Lori Kassuba

2, 2013-09-27 27, 2013

Hi Victoria Glass,

This was a bug in earlier versions of Acrobat/Reader XI. Try updating to version 11.0.4.

Thanks,
Lori

Victoria Glass

1, 2013-09-25 25, 2013

I created a fillable form in Adobe XI and in the Purple area it reads: “Click “Sign” to fill out and sign this form. When you are done, you can save a copy by cliking “Done Signing”. I don’t want this process on this form I simply want it to be fillable and then be printed out and faxed to us. How do I turn off the echo sign?

Lori Kassuba

12, 2013-09-24 24, 2013

Hi Carol,

Can you post your question here and select the Printing category?
http://answers.acrobatusers.com/AskQuestion.aspx

Thanks,
Lori

Lori Kassuba

12, 2013-09-24 24, 2013

Hi JMY,

All you need to do to make the form field information repeat, is the give the form field that exact same name within the same PDF document.

Thanks,
Lori

Jeannie

6, 2013-09-18 18, 2013

Hi JMY,  Re: making fields on a form pre-populate depending on what is entered in earlier fields by the end user

Assuming you are using LiveCycle Designer, there is a good discussion of this on http://forums.adobe.com/message/2518615 and a good pdf file you can download (bound Textfields.pdf) with examples of the script needed.

Carol

5, 2013-09-16 16, 2013

how do I create a booklet in acrobate adobe 11?

JMY

7, 2013-09-13 13, 2013

Hello! Can someone please help me? How do you make the data entered in a particular field of the form auto-populate into a later field in the same document? For example, address, if address appears twice on the form, I don’t want to user to have to re-enter address, after the address is entered the first time, I want it to auto-populate the second instance. A form I created did this with one of the fields and I can’t duplicate it and don’t see any settings that differ on this particular field from others. Please help!

Lori Kassuba

12, 2013-08-02 02, 2013

Hi Elliott,

Just try updating to Adobe Reader XI and then you should be able to save the form data (except for forms designed using Adobe LiveCycle Designer).

Thanks,
Lori

Elliott

12, 2013-07-30 30, 2013

So I have a pdf form that in the purple box at the top says:

“Please fill out the following form, you cannot save data typed into this form. Please print your completed form if you would life a copy for you records”

I am guessing the creator of the form set security settings to not allow people to save filled out forms.

Is there anyway around this?

Lori Kassuba

10, 2013-07-30 30, 2013

Hi JWY,

Make sure that you’re filling out your form using Adobe Reader and not Mac Preview. Mac Preview has issues with the form field appearance and makes the fields appear blank.

Thanks,
Lori

JWY

5, 2013-07-25 25, 2013

I am using Adobe Reader XI.  I am filling out a form with interactive fields and the purple bar at the top which states “data typed into this form can be saved”.  However, when I save the form and then reopen it, the form is blank.  Is there anything I can do to save the completed form?

Lori Kassuba

10, 2013-05-09 09, 2013

hi Jason,
Is this Reader XI? If so, was the form created using Adobe LiveCycle Designer? Adobe Reader XI will not save data on a form created using Designer.

Thanks,
Lori

Jason

10, 2013-05-06 06, 2013

I recently encountered a client in Acrobat XI who cannot save data to the forms that I have created in Acrobat X. Any reason why this may be?

Lori Kassuba

1, 2013-04-01 01, 2013

Hi Bet Morash,

The ability to save form data in Reader XI works for any form created in Acrobat (even earlier versions) but not forms created in LiveCycle Designer.

Thanks,
Lori

Bet Morash

10, 2013-03-27 27, 2013

I’m so very pleased Adobe has decided to allow form developers to offer the ability to save a filled-in PDF.

From reading through the previous comments, and testing our existing PDFs, I am lead to believe this only works when the original PDF is generated with Acrobat XI.  PDFs created with Acrobat X or earlier and LiveCycle (any version) still cannot be saved.  Is this correct?

Lori Kassuba

12, 2013-03-26 26, 2013

Hi Noël,

It sounds like someone has set security on your form that disallows any changes. In the left-hand navigation pane do you see a lock icon? If so, click on the icon and see what it says about the security.

You’ll need to remove or modify the security settings before you can Reader-enable the file.

Thanks,
Lori

Noël

12, 2013-03-26 26, 2013

How do I “reader enable” the forms, I have users who complete the forms and save to network for data to be collected from each from monthly.

Hi Lori,

I tried your response to Sam’s question on how to “reader enable” forms.

In Acrobat XI, use the following command File > Save As Other > Reader Extended PDF > Enable More Tools.

But this option is greyed out for me.  I am using Adobe Acrobat Pro XI’s trial version.  Do I need to have the full version to do this?
I tried to do this with a fully licenced version of Adobe X Pro and the “Reader Extended PDF” options were also greyed out.
??
Thanks

Sam

10, 2013-02-08 08, 2013

How do I “reader enable” the forms, I have users who complete the forms and save to network for data to be collected from each from monthly.

Hi Sam,

In Acrobat XI, use the following command File > Save As Other > Reader Extended PDF > Enable More Tools.

Thanks,
Lori

Dana Carrier

1, 2013-01-30 30, 2013

I have to say I agree with those above who are struggling with the transition from previous Acrobat Pro versions to version XI. I just had XI installed and can not open any of the forms I created in Live Cycle Designer. To open the forms, I had to export them to MS Word then import them into Acrobat XI. Several of the original features had to be replaces (ie radio buttons) and some features (drop down calendars) just plain don’t exist. The program is clunky and difficult to use; I feel like I have been sent back in time. I really need to be able to set my forms to be able to be saved after they have been filled out in Reader 9 (or above). Additionally, the form needs to be able to be emailed as a PDF via MS Outlook. So far I’ve had no luck with either. Whenever I go to the Acrobat Help, the program wants to install Adobe AIR updates! So I have to wait for that. I am very disappointed with Acrobat XI.

Hi Dana,
Customers who upgrade to Acrobat XI Pro are also eligible for a free upgrade to the latest version of LiveCycle Designer. Here is a link with more information.
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobatpro/faq.edu.html#

You’ll still need to reader-enable your forms—even for Reader XI if you creating your forms in LC Designer.

Thanks,
Lori

Lori

3, 2013-01-28 28, 2013

It’s worth the extra money to buy the Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES3.  When I got the Adobe Acrobat XI Pro, I was very disappointed to find that LiveCycle was not included in this version.  I won’t create forms without it!

Hi Lori,

Yes, this is especially important if you’ve creating a lot of forms using LC Designer.  Also, customers who upgrade to Acrobat XI Pro are also eligible for a free upgrade to the latest version of LiveCycle Designer:
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobatpro/faq.edu.html#

Thanks,
Lori

Tina

12, 2013-01-17 17, 2013

I really do not like the form creation in XI nearly as much as I did in 9.  There’s not a lot of room for design creativity, and I can’t send the results to a database or excel.  The form seems very structured, almost like it’s made ofr people who have never used Adobe before - only.  Also I acnnot create a blank pdf anymore, it has o be created from another file.

Not really liking XI so far.

Hi Tina,

The design flexibility of Acrobat forms has been improved in version XI so I’m not sure exactly what you’re referring to. Are you talking about using FormsCentral to create a new form? If so, FormsCentral also allows you to export data to Excel. Here is a tutorial on the subject:
http://acrobatusers.com/tutorials/how-to-analyze-data-in-formscentral

P.S. The Create PDF from Blank Page command can be found under the Tools pane > Pages panel > More Insert Options dropdown. If you’re on the Mac, you can use the keyboard shortcut Cmd+Shift+Q.

Lori

Glen Fallin

2, 2013-01-14 14, 2013

Just [spent] another hour trying to insert text into doc using Reader XI.  A sticky note opens up; I type in the text I want to add; but then I can’t insert the text into the document field.  So frustrating.  I would the thing not work at all than to have it keep egging me on and not working.

Hi Glen,

If you PDF form already has existing form fields then all you need to do is insert your cursor into a field and begin typing. On the other hand, if your form does not contain existing form fields then try using the Add Text Comment tool in the Comments pane under the Annotations panel—it looks like a large “T” to type text into your document. The particular annotation does not have a sticky note associated with it and is better suited to text entry.

Lori

James McKay

12, 2012-12-13 13, 2012

Very useful. Will maybe mean that forms I create don’t have to be printed (e.g. to PDF) in order to return the filled form.

DInah Almeida

1, 2012-12-05 05, 2012

This is helpfull in HR for applications.

John Bryant

12, 2012-11-27 27, 2012

This is a really neat program.

Michelle Martin

3, 2012-11-26 26, 2012

Just one more reason I want XI…

Paul Kostak

10, 2012-11-21 21, 2012

This is perfect for use with my students. Trying to save paper as much as possible.

rosa

1, 2012-11-19 19, 2012

how do i flat a document (form) ?

Hi Rosa,

You’ll need Acrobat Pro. to do this. Here is a video tutorial that explains the process:
http://acrobatusers.com/tutorials/how-to-flatten-form-fields

Lori

Sandy Becker

1, 2012-10-18 18, 2012

Thank you Lori,

It was so much easier to just drop it in the JavaScript folder. So, where will I need to stick my security script to make it work correctly?

Sandy

Let us know if this specification helps:
http://www.adobe.com/devnet-docs/acrobatetk/tools/AppSec/CrossDomain_PolicyFile_Specification.pdf

Lori

Sandy Becker

2, 2012-10-16 16, 2012

I have very intense application forms in Acrobat 9 that can only be run on certain computers because I had to place a security script down inside the JavaScript so I could extend features to Adobe Reader 9 and be able to save the form to the server.

1. With Acrobat Pro XI and Adobe Reader XI will it be necessary to add that security script down inside the JavaScript to run and save these application forms?

Actually, if you use Reader XI you no longer need to Reader-enable your forms to allow saving the data. However, you may need to rethink your workflow if the users are able to save form data locally.

2. If you still need this security script to run the application forms is it easier to install the script in Adobe Reader XI then it is in Adobe Reader X?  I was unable to get my applications to run on Adobe Reader X because I could not get my security file in the correct location on the computers.

Application Security has been improved to help address malicious use problems in both Acrobat X and XI so it won’t be easier per se, but if you customize the install of Reader then it can be easily added at this point.

Lori

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