Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I downloaded the 2012 IRS 1040 form to my Mac to ~Downloads/f1040.pdf, running OS X 10.7.5. Upon opening the pdf file in Preview (Version 5.5.3 (719.31)), I see fillable form data

1040 form filled out

I proceed to fill in more data, and eventually File -> Save a Version

attempting to save

Next I close the file, only to re-open it later and find all my entered data is missing. The IRS claims these forms are fill-in enabled:

Beginning October 25, 2004, new fill-in forms were enabled with "document rights" which will allow you to save what you have filled in on your PC. Version 8.16 or later of Adobe Reader is required.

And inspecting the security of the PDF confirms this


Though, they also say Adobe Reader is required. My question is: what am I doing wrong? I expected saving a version to retain the filled in form information. A possible workaround would be File -> Export every time I want to save something, but this seems counterintuitive.

share|improve this question
Adobe Reader 11 is free. Why not download it and use it instead of Apple Preview? – user9290 Apr 2 '13 at 6:44
I have Acrobat Reader installed, the behavior of Preview surprised me, hence this question. – Sam Miller Apr 2 '13 at 13:39
Well, then, you really have no problem! The IRS states that their PDFs are only compatible with Adobe Reader. They do not list compatibility with Apple Preview or any other PDF-manipulating software. So use Adobe Reader like the IRS instructs you to do. – user9290 Apr 2 '13 at 18:27
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I've run into this with some forms, it's not always clear why (although in your case the DRM seems the likely culprit). The workaround for me has always been filling it out as normal, then using the print to PDF functionality (File → Print → PDF → Save as PDF). Certainly not the easiest, and it means you can't re-edit in some situations. But it's still better than dealing with Acrobat.

Alternatively, you could buy PDFPen, which is a pretty fool-proof way of dealing with any PDF form you can find.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.