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I'm filling out a PDF form that doesn't work with Preview so I have to use Adobe Reader (ugh). After I fill out the form, I want to print it to PDF so that it is finalized.

Unfortunately, Adobe disables the Mac print to PDF and tells me I have to save as PDF instead, but if I save as PDF then other people can still edit it. My current annoying solution is to print it to paper and then scan it.

Anyone know a way to circumvent Adobe's disabling of the Mac print to PDF feature?

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@bmike: The latest of both. OS X 10.6.7 and Reader 10.0.1. –  Jeff Apr 14 '11 at 22:28
Can you do anything with the PDF button in adobe reader? Sometimes you could mail it or do one of the other options and extract it there. –  hobs Apr 14 '11 at 22:33
Have you tried locking the PDF with a password? That way you can edit it, but no-one else can. –  daviewales Dec 5 '12 at 23:29

7 Answers 7

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Adobe Reader 10.x does go out of it's way to hide the normal print options from OS X but you can still get to them by clicking on the Printer... button at the bottom of the Adobe Print Dialog and clicking through the warning not to change things behind Adobe's back.

I don't have a form like you mentioned in red, but try setting all the print options in Adobe to make your form appear as desired (with or without stamps, annotations, sticky notes and summaries, etc...) and then get to the Apple print dialog to attempt a print to PDF.

If Adobe isn't preparing the file for print until after you hit print in the Adobe dialog - then your only recourse is faking it out by defining a new virtual printer. That way adobe is forced to send the data to the mac which will then pop it into a plainer PDF file for you with just the data filled out.

I've not resorted to this, but CUPS-PDF and this tip on making it work with Snow Leopard's sandboxing security looks to be promising. I hope you don't have to resort to that hacky of a solution to save paper waste and time.

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I've been able to get to the normal OS X print options from Adobe, but after you select print to PDF, Adobe swoops in again and won't let you do it. Arrggh. The virtual printer tip should work but I was hoping for an easier solution. –  Jeff Apr 15 '11 at 17:14

I am not sure if this will work for all of the PDF files, but I was having the same issue when printing today. I looked up several solutions and everything seems overly complex. Solutions being download this PDF writer program, or update your adobe version... ext....

I went to the PDF file and clicked print, when the print window showed up I went to the Advanced Printer Settings, it had two options to check mark or un check mark. I check marked the 'print file as image' option and it printed. It took a bit for the printer to start but I worked, everything came out in the correct resolution and none of the colors/text fields were changed.

I am sure this won't solve everyone's problem but hopefully it give you another option to try!

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I ended up using PDF Writer. It works perfectly by emulating a printer.

You do have to go ahead and add PDF Writer as a new printer with Preview first.

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As an alternative if you cannot get reader working, the process of printing and scanning your document seems laborious, have you thought of just a screenshot of the document? This should be digitally exactly the same, and you could even open it in preview and "Print to PDF" as you wanted. This would also be not editable in the fashion you said.

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Thanks for the suggestion, but that won't work. Adobe highlights the form fields in red so it will look different. Also, I think the resolution would be too low. –  Jeff Apr 14 '11 at 23:01
Can you save it into any other intermediary format? –  hobs Apr 14 '11 at 23:35
I have the option to save as PDF (editable) and txt. –  Jeff Apr 15 '11 at 0:05
Once it's saved as an editable pdf w/txt, can that version be opened in Preview to be printed as a PDF? –  bg2011 Nov 22 '11 at 14:51

I just encountered this same problem in Jan 2015, using OS X Yosemite (10.10.2) and Adobe Reader XI (11.0.10). My experience confirmed what bmike said in the accepted answer:

If Adobe isn't preparing the file for print until after you hit print in the Adobe dialog - then your only recourse is faking it out by defining a new virtual printer."

I installed PDFwriter and it worked like a charm. Very easy to install; still works perfectly in OS X Yosemite even though the last release was in 2011.

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I came across this question because I was facing the same problem in April 2012 using Mac OS X Lion

I found another solution which was to use Print to VipRiser

Hope this helps other users.

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After I updated my mac os x to 10.7.4 VipRiser no longer works –  Kim Stacks Jun 4 '12 at 6:08
I've found that VipRiser works, but only for PDFs I could open in Preview anyway, which kind of defeats the purpose. –  strangefeatures Dec 23 '14 at 0:02

OK, just throwing another horribly convoluted solution onto the pile. I've found that Amazon's Send to Kindle for Mac works for converting these PDFs. I happened to have it installed already (so preferable to installing three extra flaky PDF printer drivers which may or may not work in my case), and it worked fine. The difficult was that getting a standalone PDF was needlessly complex. You can't download a PDF from your Kindle "Manage your content" page on Amazon (AFAICT), so you have to send it to a third-party device.

PDF Documents, including those from the "Send to Kindle" virtual printer, can be sent to a physical Kindle, or an iOS device's Kindle app, but not, inexplicably, a desktop Kindle app, and also possibly not even an Android device (!). So I had to send to my iPhone. Once it's on your iOS device (or maybe a hardware Kindle, I'm not sure), you can download the document, and then use the "Share" link to email it to yourself. Simple!

Basically the steps I used were:

  1. Print to the "Send to Kindle" printer
  2. Make sure to select "Archive Document in my Kindle Library"
  3. Browse to the "Manage your Content" page on Amazon, and wait for the new document to appear in the "Docs" listing
  4. Deliver the document to your handy iOS device
  5. Open the iOS device and click the share link
  6. Email it to yourself

(You might be able to send directly to your iOS device from Send to and avoid step 3 – I couldn't get that to work, but I don't know whether that was significant)

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Why would anyone want to print to pdf (save as pdf) a doc that is already PDF (in Adobe) –  Buscar웃 Dec 23 '14 at 1:26
Some PDFs (especially forms) can be opened in Adobe but not in other PDF-readers (such as, or iOS PDF readers). But in most cases, you're right - it's fairly useless, which may be why Adobe has gone to such extraordinary lengths to disable the standard "Print to PDF" feature which you can use in every other OS X app (including, I should note, when you have a PDF open in Preview, so Apple hasn't felt a need to protect us from ourselves in the same way). Less charitably, it could be a way to force everyone to keep using their software. –  strangefeatures Dec 29 '14 at 4:08

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