How to Save Fillable PDF Files

If you ever tried filling out fields in a PDF form (like government ones) just to realize you can’t actually save it…then this post will give you a super easy and – best of all – free way to save fillable PDF files.

When I first published this post in 2009, the Cabaret program worked perfectly. But as one commenter discovered later, it started throwing up errors in German.

I found a new way to save pdf files in 2013 and posted it in the comments section below.

Here it is reposted:

The New Solution

1. Download Foxit Reader
2. Open up your fillable PDF form
3. Fill in some of it
4. Go File > Save as (rename it as a new file)
5. Open up this new PDF file and see if the changes you made are there.

If this doesn’t work for you, please post a comment!

___________________________________________________________________________

The Old Solution (no longer working as it produces errors in German)

1. Download Cabaret Stage 4.0.7 here. I went with the version without JRE.
2. A form will come up in German. Just fill in the fields (they’re easy to guess) and click “Ich stemme zu” Update Nov. 3 2010 – I guess they took this part out! Not needed anymore :)
3. Once downloaded, install the exe file
4. Open Cabaret Stage
5. Open the PDF file you want to save
6. Fill out the fields
7. Go file > save as. Save it as another file.
8. Open up this new PDF file and be prepared to be amazed!

Cynthia

Cynthia

36 Comments

  1. I followed all the steps and went to save as and it saved in “text” format not pdf :-/ will look at your faq thanks

  2. This really works!!!! You are a genius. I was gonna buy the adobe acrobat pro so I can save the fillable file.. Thanks for saving me lots of $$$$.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is a life saver by not having to spend a fortune on Adobe to be able to save all my pdf files and go back and edit them. Brilliant! Cynthia rules!

  4. thank you so much. I was filling out a college application and couldn’t get the e-mailed but this allowed me to. You could have just unintentionally gotten me into college.

  5. People people you do not need a app file to help you save your fillable text. Here is a more easier way. Follow my simple directions.

    1) Open a PDF form in Adobe Acrobat.

    2) Select either the Hand tool or Select tool. Click a form field you want to enter data in. The cursor will change, depending on the type of interactive field it is. Type text or make a selection. Press “Tab” to move on to the next field. Continue through the entire form until you entered all required data.

    3) Click “File, Save as.”

    4) Rename the file. This will save a new copy of the form with your entered data. Click “Save.”

    That’s it simple has 1 2 3 4. No need to download a app file to help you save your text.

    Thanks,

    The Web Guru

  6. Web Guru. I just tried your method with no success. Are you sure you don’t have adobe pro version. I know the pro version can save forms, but it also cost 200 bucks.

  7. @Ramlatus it worked fine for me and YES i do have Adobe Pro version.
    I been saving my fillable with the steps i wrote above and it is working fine for me to save my fillable text

  8. @ Web Guru…
    uhhhh, I think the point of this is to do it without spending $200 for Adobe Pro…we’re trying to find a free work around.

  9. I got some kind of java error in German and it won’t allow me to run the program? I am running windows xp professional.

  10. Thank you Cynthia! For once a solution that works like a charm, does what you said it would and it’s free! Now if you can come up with a solution to a slow computer that is not a scam to buy something, you’ll be named goddess of the year.

  11. WEB GURU (?!)
    I get a kick out of your enthusiasm. Your spiel is exactly what I thought too because it works ON MY COMPUTER… BUT NOT WHEN I DISTRIBUTE TO USERS. Perhaps its a mac vs pc thing.

    Anyway, I came here because I need a REAL SOLUTION.

  12. I keep getting Error:java.lang.NullPointerException…. any advice please?? This scholarship app is killing me.

  13. Best way around PDFs that don’t allow saving of filled forms, especially those in pop up windows from the US government…CutePDF Writer, absolutely!!! http://www.cutepdf.com/ (And it’s free!)

    The software actually installs itself as a virtual printer, meaning those “print only” PDFs can now be saved with all your data intact…even those government documents with your electronic signature attached!! It’s super simple too…just click “print” and choose “CutePDF Writer” as the printer…it then pops up with the usual ‘save-as’ screen…pick where you want to save it and viola, you’re done! Simple as that :)))

  14. Wow thank you so much Cynthia! :) I was wondering how could I increase font size with this software?

  15. This is a great and easy fix to a problem I have been struggling with for a while. Thanks so much!

  16. Cynthia: It was working great for 2 weeks. Then, I get kind of error in German that I translated to English and reads like this: ” System did not fin JVM. Please dine EXE4J_JAVA_HOME. With the index of an installed 32-bit JDK or JRE or dounwload your JAVA of http://www.java.com

    I tried to put Java in Cabaret but it does not work!

    Please, Helpe me!!!!!!! It was working wqonderful!

  17. @Alonso

    I haven’t used that software in ages, but looks like you’re right; even the JRE version is throwing up error messages.

    Don’t worry, try this:

    1. Download Foxit Reader
    2. Open up your fillable PDF form
    3. Fill in some of it
    4. Go File > Save as (rename it as a new file)
    5. Open up this new PDF file and see if the changes you made are there.

    I just tested it out and can confirm it’s working.

    Let me know if it works for you!

    – Cynthia

  18. Thank you for keeping the debate going on saving edited versions of internet PDF files that say you cannot do this. I spent a very frustrating yesterday filling up a form for a charity client 4 times, and losing it all each time (plus something on the form from Adobe called Echosign was a real pain and did not work properly). Looking for a solution to saving my draft and emailing the edited text back to my client I came accross your website and debate. Firstly I tried Cabaret but got the Java block that other users report, and then I saw the 2013 post about Foxit Reader – and yes it did everything you said. So that’s clearly the way to get around Adobe trying to stop you doing sensible things with PDFs like editing and saving, and requiring you to spend a lot of unnecessary money if you want to actually use them properly.

  19. I have created a fillable pdf form. If I send the form out through email to have a person fill in, it forces them to do a “save as”. If I save the form in a shared folder for an employee to fill in, it allows then to just do a “save”. How to I make the pdf a “read only” form and save it in a shared file?

  20. Thank you very much! The foxit reader is exactly what I needed to finish my application and save ALL of it including the parts I filled in. I almost gave up until I found this page.

  21. I’m able to fill in a document with Foxit Reader but, when I click “save” , all of the information I put in was gone. The document I was working on is still there, but nothing else. I’m now afraid to close the program for fear of losing this until I print it.

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