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How to Save, Create, and Manage Editable PDFs (Tools and Step-by-Step)

January 8, 2022

Wondering how to save, create, or convert your PDF files so that they're editable?

Some form creators make a mistake in not making their PDFs interactive when ending out forms.

So, when recipients receive a flat form, they have to go through the stress of printing and filling out the form by hand. Or trying to find a workaround with a third-party tool to edit the PDFs.

When you send a form in PDF format through email, you should ensure the form is editable. 

This makes it easy for the recipient to fill the form with their information and send it back to you as a PDF. 

Below, you’ll learn how to create, edit, and manage PDFs using different software, in a step-by-step manner. Whether you use Adobe Acrobat, Google Chrome, Google Drive, or some other third-party PDF management tool.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • How to Create Fillable PDF files With Adobe Acrobat
  • How to Save an Editable PDF on Adobe Acrobat
  • How to Fill and Save a PDF Using Google Chrome
  • How to Create Form Fields in Editable PDF with Adobe Acrobat
  • Converting a PDF to an editable document with Google Docs
  • How to Save Editable PDF form with pdfFiller
  • How to Save Editable PDF Form With PDFFiller
  • How to Make a PDF Editable With SmallPDF
  • How to Flatten PDF forms

How to Create Fillable PDF files With Adobe Acrobat

Using Adobe Acrobat?

Here’s how to create fillable PDF files:

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat and click on the Tools tab.
  2. Select Prepare Form and choose a file you want to make fillable.
  3. Add the appropriate form fields; then, you can use the toolbar option to adjust the features and layouts.
  4. Save the form and send it. The recipients will be able to respond automatically.

How to Save an Editable PDF on Adobe Acrobat

To save a PDF as a fillable form with Adobe Acrobat, you must use the Pro version

To create a PDF that is editable and fillable by the recipient with Adobe Acrobat, follow these steps:

  1. Open your Adobe Acrobat software and click on File> Open to open the fillable File. If you want to create the PDF on Adobe Acrobat, select Tools > Create > Next and select the file type you want to create.
  2. After opening the File, click on the Advanced tab.
  3. Click Extend Forms Fill-In & Save In Adobe Reader. After you save it, your recipient will be able to fill the form and save their responses.

How to Fill and Save a PDF Using Google Chrome

If you have a form in PDF format that you want to fill, you can do so with Google Chrome. 

To fill the form in Google Chrome, you should ensure the PDF file is not read-only. 

Then, to fill the form, take the following steps:

  1. Open the PDF file with Google Chrome.
  2. Go to the folder where you saved the fillable form, and right-click. It will bring a drop-down menu, click on the Open with option, then click Google Chrome in the following list that pops out.
how to open pdf file google chrome

3. Fill out the PDF

Click on the fields you need to fill out and type in your replies. If the field is a checkbox, clicking on the box will tick it. When you finish ticking the boxes and filling in your replies, the next step is to save them.

4. Save the PDF

There is no Save option directly on Google Chrome, so to be able to save the PDF, click on the three-dots option by the top right corner. It will bring a drop-down menu; click on the Print option. (Alternatively, you can use the Control + P button).

save as pdf print chrome

After clicking save, it will bring a window with tabs of where and how to save the File. Type in the file name and select the save location.

save as pdf file with google chrome

Click on Save, and you will have your filled-out PDF in the chosen destination.

PS - If you’re often going to be using Chrome to handle your PDF files, you can set the browser as your default PDF viewer. Check out our guide to opening PDF documents on Chrome for more info!

How to Create Form Fields in Editable PDF with Adobe Acrobat

In an editable PDF, the form fields must be well organized and fitting to the context of the PDF. 

Here’s how you can create form fields:

  1. Open the editable PDF with Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Click where you want the field to be added to.
  3. Click on the toolbar and choose a form field from the options.
  4. Select the size of the form or drag a rectangle to determine the size of the field.
  5. You can use grids to position the form fields where exactly you want them to be. Click on View > Show/Hide > Rulers & Grids.

If you want to change the position of the fields, you can do so by changing the alignments in the properties tab. The alignment will make the form field be in the proper position when opened with other viewers.

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Converting a PDF Document to an Editable Document With Google Docs

google doc start a new pdf document

You can also convert your PDF into an editable document with Google Docs with these simple steps:

  1. Upload the PDF file to Google Drive.
  2. After you have uploaded it to the drive, click on the File and open it with Google Docs.
  3. Edit the files and save changes. 

This process is simple, but it might not be the best option as this might harm the formatting.

Opening the File with Google docs might change the formatting of the PDF, and you might need to edit it manually afterward. 

So, if the document contains multiple images, tables, and other tools, it is not recommended to use Google Docs for conversion or saving PDF documents.

How to Save Editable PDF Form With PDFFiller

PDFFiller is software that allows you to save a fillable PDF form and share it with people. 

The exported files will be editable, and the recipient can fill them without using external tools.

 You can create a fillable form on PDFFiller by following these steps:

  1. Create the form and add the required fields.
  2. Click on the option Done and select Save As from the resulting pop-out menu.
  3. Choose the format you would like your PDF to be in the form of (Word, ppt).
  4. Click on Set Export options and click on Save with fillable fields to make the form fillable by the recipient.
  5. Type in the document's name and click on Save As to export the document.

PDF filler also allows you to save the document with a password so that only the intended people can access it. 

How to Make a PDF Editable With SmallPDF

If you receive a PDF that needs to be filled or edited, and you want to edit them without Adobe Acrobat, you can make it editable with SmallPDF.

Here’s how to convert PDFs into editable files with SmallPDF:

  1. Go to Smallpdf converter on the web.
  2. Import your PDF into the converter.
  3. Click on the converted File and open it in Word or PPT format.
  4. Edit or fill the form.
  5. Save it and convert it back to PDF format with the Smallpdf converter.
  6. Download your filled form. 

How to Flatten PDF forms

If an editable PDF was sent to you to fill, after filling it, you might want to flatten it so that the information you uploaded cannot be altered. 

Follow the steps below to flatten your form after filling it out:

  1. Open the fillable form.
  2. Type and fill all the required fields.
  3. Right-click anywhere on the document and click on Print 
  4. Choose the location and click on Flattened as the format of the form you want to save
  5. Select save.

Frequently Asked Questions on Editable PDF Files

Now, before we sum up, let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about editable PDFs.

  • Can I lock just a specific part of the PDF?

No. Your document is either read-only or editable; it cannot be both ways. If you want to lock your PDF; Click on the protection option > restrict editing. You can password protect your PDF files so that anyone who wants to edit will have to come to you. If not, you can select the no security option. 

  • Can I lock the form after collecting all the needed signatures?

To lock the signature field after it has been signed, use the Digital signature option. You can add this field by clicking on Properties > signed tab. Using the digital signature feature will ensure that the signature cannot be changed once it has been inserted. Unless someone goes out of their way to remove a digital signature from a PDF.

  • Can I edit a Locked PDF?

If the PDF is saved as a read-only file, you can edit and save it with the methods stated above. But if the PDF is locked with a password, you cannot generally edit it unless you know the password. Though, depending on password protection, there are ways to edit a password-secured PDF file.

  • Will the PDF retain its formatting after editing?

Yes, if you do not edit the PDF with a faulty reader, the formatting will not be distorted after editing or filling it. However, if you open via Google Drive or Docs, some features not supported by the software might not retain their form.

  • Why can’t the recipient save changes to the fillable form?

If your form respondents cannot fill the form or save changes made, it is probably because the form was not “Reader Enabled”. If you did not “reader enable” the form, the file recipients would not be able to save any changes made to the form. You can reader-enable it with your Adobe Acrobat, but only with versions later than Adobe Acrobat 8 Pro.

Conclusion

When saving a document that you might still have to edit, you should consider saving it in another form rather than PDF format. 

After you have scanned the document you need to edit, save it as a Word file, making it easy to edit later. If the document contains a table, you should save it as a Spreadsheet. 

One downside of an editable file is that anyone can make corrections. If the file can breach privacy or security issues, it is better to lock it with a password and grant access to only certified personnel.

Alternatively, you can also use Inkit render to convert, save, manage, and edit your PDF documents at scale!

Out-of-the-box PDF generation
The easiest way to automatically generate and manage paperless documents at scale.
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