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How to save PDF form data in Reader

Learn how to save data you enter into a fillable PDF form in the free Reader.

By Lori Kassuba – December 13, 2011


The key to saving PDF form field data in the free Reader lies in the Document Message Bar. Only PDF forms that specifically say you can save data typed into this PDF form allow you to do this in Reader (version X or later).

View transcript

How to save PDF form data in Reader

Lori Kassuba – December 13, 2011

The key to saving PDF form field data in Adobe Reader X lies in the Document Message Bar. This is the purple area between the Toolbar and the Document Pane. Only forms that specifically say you can save data typed into this PDF form allow you to do this in Adobe Reader X. You will also notice an Extended Pane in the Toolbar in these types of forms.

Now if you see a message bar saying that you cannot save data typed into this form, and you still need to save the data in your form fields, you’ll need either Acrobat X Std. or Pro. to do this. You can download a 30-day trial copy of Adobe Acrobat X Pro. from to check out this functionality. Now once you've downloaded and installed a copy of Acrobat X Pro., all you need to do is open the form, fill it out, and then save the file since the file already has fillable form fields. Now if you want to save your form in Adobe Reader, and not necessarily Acrobat, you’ll need to select the following command File, Save As, Reader Extended, Enable Additional Features. This will allow users with the free Reader to save form data in an existing fillable PDF form. Note that Reader-enabling is subject to license restrictions noted in the Acrobat End User License Agreement that ships with the product.

Products covered:

Acrobat XAcrobat Reader

Related topics:

PDF Forms

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Comments for this tutorial are now closed.

Lori Kassuba

8, 2016-03-02 02, 2016

Hi Gary Mattson,

The Adobe Reader is free (no trial) but there is a 30-day trial of Acrobat.


Gary Mattson

10, 2016-02-19 19, 2016

Is their a free membership for just using the Adobe reader or will I have to start paying after a trial period?

Lori Kassuba

6, 2016-02-12 12, 2016

Hi ayman,

Double check that you haven’t set the form to read-only in LiveCycle Designer. You can also check this is the source XML.


ayman ab

12, 2016-02-01 01, 2016

Hi Lori!
I wish you would help me Please!!
I just create a big form by LiveCycle, in the end I save the form as PDF. And It fills out this form several people, using different computers
The problem is when some one start filling in the form and then if he\she choose Save. The form going to get lock. that mean the others can’t make any change, and not him either.

What I need only keep or make it open (abel to change values) all of the time.

More than a week I’ve been looking for a solution, without success
I’m using to design LiveCycle
I’m using also to fill the form Adobe Acrobat XI
* activated copy

I have tried this
1- Advanced >>> extend features in adobe reader. by (Adobe - Acrobat 9 Pro Extended).
2- File >>> Save As Other… >> Reader Extended PDF > Reader extended pdf. by ( Adobe Acrobat XI Standard ). ” I do not found “Enable Additional Features” !!!
3- I used this code also as a BUTTON >>> app.execMenuItem(“SaveAs”);
4- I save it using (type: Adobe Dynamic XML Form). 5- I save it using (type: Adobe static pdf form).


Lori Kassuba

2, 2016-01-29 29, 2016

Hi Paul Tyler,

Did you happen to put your signature electronically on the document? If so, this locks the “state” of the document at the time of your signature. So, you can be sure what you enter doesn’t get changed.
If you need to go back regularly and change the information then I would suggest making a copy right before you add your signature.


Paul Tyler

5, 2016-01-26 26, 2016

I installed Adobe Reader DC then filled out a form, IRS Form 941, signed and saved. I came back later to make a change and it will not let me change anything. I like all the features of the DC version but not being able to save and later modify is a non-workable item for me. Is there a way to save and go back later and modify a document?

Lori Kassuba

5, 2016-01-07 07, 2016

Hi Lynn Sailor,

Do you mean that the recipient sees a blank form? One reason might be that you’re opening the form in Mac Preview. Or some other PDF viewer. Do you think this might be the case?


Lynn Sailor

6, 2015-12-30 30, 2015

I’m trying to send a pdf form back after completing it. It saves and keeps the info., but after I email it out it’s blank. How do I fix this?

Lori Kassuba

5, 2015-01-27 27, 2015

Hi Santiago Bedolla Garcia,

If recipients of your form are using an earlier version of Adobe Reader (X and earlier), you’ll need to reader-enable your form so that they can save the data. File > Save As Other > Reader Extended PDF > Enable More tools.


Santiago Bedolla Garcia

10, 2015-01-22 22, 2015


I have a problem, I got installed the Acrobat XI Standar to create and edit PDF files, but when finished and trying to send it for filling out, the users cannot save the pdf file with the information included, mainly because the message bar says that the document needs to be signed. But when trying to do so there appears more error messages. Do I need to configure the original file from my Acrobat editable version?



10, 2014-06-20 20, 2014

Thank you… its very help ful :)


8, 2014-06-06 06, 2014

Thank you so very much.  I am so excited and i just can’t help it.  This is awesome and saved me a bunch of money from purchasing Pro licenses.

Lori Kassuba

7, 2014-01-30 30, 2014

Hi Leon,
Unfortunately you cannotwork with attachments like this in a signed doc (since version 9). The feature is designed to allow you to sign both the doc and the attachment as a unit so that you can verify its origin and integrity.

If you need a signature workflow that allows adding attachments, try using Portfolios. You can sign any doc in a Portfolio and add as many additional docs to it as needed without affecting the signed documents.



8, 2014-01-28 28, 2014

Hi Lori, here is my problem:

I have created ‘Form 1’ using X Pro. attached to ‘Form 1’ is ‘Form 2’ also created in X Pro. Both ‘Form 1’ and ‘Form 2’ have digital signature fields.

When I open ‘Form 1’ in Reader X1, the signatory fields and save options work fine. When I click the link to open ‘Form 2’, the user cannot sign or save the document with data in fields.

I have attempted save saving each docuement first enabling additonal features. I’ve tried removing Document properties which I want “Initial View” and password “Security” to only enable printing filling and signing. Still not luck…

what seems to be the problem?

Lori Kassuba

3, 2013-10-14 14, 2013

Hi Robyn,

Yes, I thought this might be the case. The first signer probably locked the signature to disallow changes. You’ll need ask them to send a copy that is unlocked so you can sign.


Robyn Hedgecock

2, 2013-10-11 11, 2013

It says “Signing” Not Allowed

Lori Kassuba

1, 2013-10-11 11, 2013

Hi Robyn,

The selections aren’t active because the first signer may have checked the box to “lock” the document when signing. What does it say under the File > Properties > Security tab dialog?


Robyn Hedgecock

10, 2013-10-08 08, 2013

I have a fillable form that I have opened in Reader XI, it has two signatures that are required.  One signature has been digitally signed but the second one has not.  I con get to the Sign menu but none of the selections are active.  What am I doing wrong?

Lori Kassuba

1, 2013-10-08 08, 2013

Hi Fiona,

Can you let us know what browser/operating system you’re experiencing this problem in? Is the problem with the video or text on the page?



6, 2013-09-27 27, 2013

I don’t know if it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else encountering problems with your blog. It appears like some of the text in your content are running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them as well? This might be a problem with my browser because I’ve had this happen before. Thank you

Lori Kassuba

2, 2013-07-25 25, 2013

Hi Lexi,

I would update to the latest version of Adobe Reader XI. Version XI allows you to save all your form data whereas eariler versions of Reader did not unless the file had been Reader-extended first.



5, 2013-07-12 12, 2013

I need to sign the form but it poped up a sign that said i must save before i can put my signature. but at the top it says i can not save. what should i do?

Lori Kassuba

3, 2013-02-26 26, 2013

Hi Ray B,

This sounds a bit like a network save error. Have you tried saving the file locally?


Ray B

6, 2013-02-19 19, 2013

Hi. I’m trying to edit, save and resend a file from an email using Adobe XI Standard. When I attempt to do this, I get a save error.

“The document cannot be saved. The file maybe read-only or another user may have it open. Please save the document with a different name or in a different folder.”

When I save the file, the permissions change and I don’t get this error. Does anyone have any ideas? Thank you.


1, 2013-01-09 09, 2013

I am trying to apply for various online job opportunities and I am getting that same message where I will not be able to save any information. Watching this tutorial - - It appears as though the only 2 ways around this is if the originator of the document has paid for and enables the option to allow end-users to save or I have to actually buy the product? or use a 30 day trial.

Am I missing something or is this correct.



Hi Gary,

The goods news is that all this has changed in Adobe Reader XI. First, you can save data in a PDF that has existing form fields and it not longer needs to be reader-enable by the form author. And second, the typewriter tool is now part of Reader XI, which means that you can easily fill out a form that doesn’t even contain form fields.
So, be sure to update the Reader XI! Good luck with your job search.



2, 2012-09-26 26, 2012

A pop-up box appeared saying, “This document could not be Reader Enabled.”  Is this due to license restrictions arranged through my employer?


No there shouldn’t be any unique license restrictions. It sounds more like the file already has security set on it that prevents reader enabling or perhaps a digital signature? Try making sure these things aren’t preventing you from reader enabling your file first.


Richard Montoya

1, 2012-08-22 22, 2012

OMG! I had no idea.  Thank you so much!  I can’t wait to use this feature on other forms I’ve created with Acrobat.

Comments for this tutorial are now closed.