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.

  • 1
    Adobe Reader 11 is free. Why not download it and use it instead of Apple Preview?
    – user9290
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 6:44
  • 1
    I have Acrobat Reader installed, the behavior of Preview surprised me, hence this question.
    – Sam Miller
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 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
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 18:27

2 Answers 2


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.


I think 'Adobe Acrobat Reader' or 'Adobe Acrobat Pro' is the best solution. You can install Adobe Acrobat Reader via brew in macOS

brew install adobe-acrobat-reader

Then you can open and edit PDFs with input forms by Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you open a exist pdf with input forms by Adobe Acrobat Reader, you will see 'fixing forms filed' message.

  • Or, you could just download it from Adobe.com....! Personally, I like Foxit Reader.
    – benwiggy
    Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 15:41

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