So, I have a PDF-Form that I need to fill. Since it is rather big, I downloaded the PDF and am willing to edit the form offline / outside the browser. This seems to work fine with the Preview app, but Acrobat DC only lets me edit fields that I previously filled with the Preview app, Acrobat does not let me edit empty fields.

Am I doing something wrong or might the "official" Adobe App be buggy? Any similar experiences on Mac? I updated to the newest Acrobat (2020.006.20034) without any changes. MacOS version is 10.15.3.

  • Are you certain that there are actually form fields where you are having the problem? (In other words, could it be that the PDF has no form fields until they are created in Preview?) In Document Info (Acrobat Command D, Preview Command I) what is the Creator and PDF Producer? Describe what happens in Acrobat: are you just clicking and nothing happens, or something else?
    – benwiggy
    Feb 19 '20 at 12:13
  • 1
    sorry if I am being Captain Obvious here but you are talking about Acrobat DC Standard or Pro and not Acrobat reader, correct? Feb 19 '20 at 14:52

Without seeing the PDF, it's impossible to give an assessment. However:

The irony of PDFs is that the format was designed to enable standardized documents; but the flexibility of the format means that PDFs can be created in lots of different ways. Sometimes the syntax can be incorrect, or the various elements unsuited to their intended task.

While bugs do exist in Acrobat, Adobe are the creators and custodians of the PDF format, so in the absence of other information, I would assume the PDF document is at fault.

It's also possible that 'rinsing' the PDF through Preview may cause problems, as MacOS's Quartz framework can only write a subset of the PDF language.

In Acrobat, you should be able to Preflight the PDF (Command Shift X) and check that its syntax is correct and that it's suitable for the job required: you can also Fix any problems found.

Acrobat should also let you create new form fields, or at least, write text in the correct position. If you can't do those things, then something is very wrong indeed. Try creating new forms or text in another PDF document.

  • So, I am at another Mac right now, on this machine Acrobat Reader works just fine for exactly the same form, so something must be wrong with the other machine. I am curious because I had already reinstalled Acrobat Reader. Both have the same MacOS, so that should also not be the issue. I will have to keep digging, as you said, I would prefer to edit forms with Acrobat Reader, seems the more indicated tool for that task...
    – Martin
    Feb 19 '20 at 16:50
  • Reinstalling an app never works. The problem is always somewhere else. ;-) If you're using Acrobat Reader, then you won't have the preflight or form creation tools.
    – benwiggy
    Feb 19 '20 at 17:29

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