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How to save PDF forms in Reader

Learn how to fill in PDF forms and save PDF forms using the free Reader.

By Donna Baker – March 26, 2012


In this tutorial, learn how to fill in forms using and save PDF forms using the free Reader. This quick tip looks at the differences between a basic PDF form and a Reader-enabled PDF form and how to save either fillable PDF form using Reader.

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How to save PDF forms in Reader

Donna Baker – March 26, 2012

This interactive PDF form is opened in Adobe Reader X. A warning dialog box explains that you can only save a printed copy of the form. Click the Close button, then click the first field to start typing the information. Now you can start filling in the fields.

Here’s another version of the same PDF form in Adobe Reader X. Click to activate the first field and start filling in the form. Why is there a difference?

The key is in the file nameā€”the suffix _distributed means the file has been saved with more features for use in Adobe Reader X. You'll see a few differences in the program window: The _distributed form has a new Navigation pane not available in the basic form; the _distributed form has a Submit button not available in the basic form, and the _distributed form includes an Extended tool pane not available in the basic form.

The modified form is called a Reader-enabled form. Let’s see how to use it. Click the Document Extensions tab to see a list of features added to the form. Let’s look at the Comment pane. Notice the pane shows active commenting tools. Now let’s check out the Extended tools. Extended features let you add more content, use digital and other signatures, or use special tools for data and measurements.Click Extended to close the Tool pane again.

When you finish filling out the form, click Save to save a copy to your computer, or click the Submit Form button to return the file. The Submit Form dialog box opens. The address, subject, and attachment are already prepared. Type your e-mail address and name, then click Send to submit the form.

Let’s go back to the basic form now. Click Sign, and you see there are no usable tools, just a dialog box explaining the document’s status. Click Comment, and you see you can’t use the comment tools, either.

To save your form, click File > Save As > PDF. Here’s the blank form message again. Continue to save a blank form, or click Cancel. Printing is the only way to save a completed copy of the form. Click the Print button, choose your printer settings, and click Print.

Products covered:

Acrobat Reader

Related topics:

PDF Forms

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Comments for this tutorial are now closed.

Lori Kassuba

4, 2015-09-14 14, 2015

Hi Geoff,

These are actually mp4 videos. Are you able to view other videos on your system?



11, 2015-08-27 27, 2015

I’ve updated flash till I’m blue in the face still can’t see the video.

Lori Kassuba

4, 2013-09-24 24, 2013

Hi Michael Campa,

You might also find this infographic useful:


Lori Kassuba

4, 2013-09-17 17, 2013

Hi Michael,

Here is a good listing of all the features of Adobe Reader XI:

One important difference in this version is that you no longer need to Reader-enable a PDF (in Acrobat) to allow others to comment or fill-in form data. However, this also means that everyone opening your PDF will need Reader XI. Since it’s difficult to know what version of Reader folks are using, I recommend to still Reader-enabling your PDF files in case others may be using an earlier version of the Reader.

Michael Campa

3, 2013-09-13 13, 2013

Thanks Lori. I appreciate your input. But please note my question was not if it did these things. I was aware it did them. I was asking what they are: what do they do exactly? what is the difference between one and the other? What does one do that the other doesn’t. And for ex. does saving it one way and then the other way automatically ‘delete’ what ever was part of the first save (if for example u save it to save form, will you still be able to do so when you save it another way?)

Lori Kassuba

5, 2013-09-12 12, 2013

Hi mich,

Adobe Reader XI has the ability to do all the things you mention. It can save form field data, Add Text, and use all the Commenting tools.



4, 2013-09-08 08, 2013

I was hoping to find out what all the different ‘Save As” features actually mean—what they do (which of course means their differences as well) but felt this video did not answer such questions. For example. “enable adding text” that are not fillable forms” Does this mean I would then be able to write anywhere on the document but not be able to fill in forms, after this? -2- What does ‘enable commenting and measuring mean? I mean if, in the previous option I was able to add text, then doesn’t this mean I am able to add comments, after all comments are written in text. And most important of all, since these choices are all different why not have a ‘save as’ whereby you can do all of these things: enable adding text, and enable filling in forms, and enable to add comments?

Lori Kassuba

1, 2013-04-15 15, 2013


Your PDF file needs to have been Reader-enabled first before you can save in the free Reader.


Time Wasted

2, 2013-04-15 15, 2013

AWESOME VIDEO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! VERY HELPFUL 100 THUMBS UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sheila Capote

11, 2013-04-04 04, 2013

Completely useless… I already know it’s print only in the basic Adobe, I wanted a way to actually save it. But thanks, for telling me what I already knew. ULTRA USELESS VIDEO.

donna baker

1, 2013-04-03 03, 2013

Hi tatsu -

A form is like any other sort of PDF document. Choose File > Close.



8, 2013-03-29 29, 2013

aaaaaaaaaaand how do you close forms?

Comments for this tutorial are now closed.