How to Save Fillable PDF Files

comment 36 Comments Written by Cynthia on March 3, 2009 – 8:48 am

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!

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36 Comments on “How to Save Fillable PDF Files”

  1. WOW!!Pretty good.

  2. I tried your advice and it worked!!!! Thank you so much Cynthia.

    By Hairani on Jul 25, 2010 | Reply
  3. Thanks Cynthia, this is a very useful tip. I had never heard of Cabaret Stage before.

    By Sirtaj on Sep 28, 2010 | Reply
  4. Thanks a lot. It works..Thanks for saving me!

    By Pia on Oct 18, 2010 | Reply
  5. I followed all the steps and went to save as and it saved in “text” format not pdf :-/ will look at your faq thanks

    By Kai on Oct 28, 2010 | Reply
  6. 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 $$$$.

    By rica on Nov 3, 2010 | Reply
  7. 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!

  8. Thanks a lot Cynthia your a big help…

  9. Curious – what is “JRE”? I spent a few minutes checking out the site and I couldn’t figure it out.

    By the way; awesome!

  10. 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.

    By big d on Jan 1, 2011 | Reply
  11. Nathan ^

    JRE = Java Runtime Environment

    By Dave on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply
  12. Nice! Will help with tax forms. Thank you.

    By chris on Mar 20, 2011 | Reply
  13. This is really coool Thanks a million Cynthia

    By TOM on Mar 28, 2011 | Reply
  14. Thank You

    By Raj on Apr 9, 2011 | Reply
  15. Its working……….yes

    By jatin on Jun 3, 2011 | Reply
  16. 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.


    The Web Guru

    By Web Guru on Aug 18, 2011 | Reply
  17. 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.

    By Ramlatus on Aug 19, 2011 | Reply
  18. @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

    By Web Guru on Oct 11, 2011 | Reply
  19. @ 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.

    By Ender on Oct 15, 2011 | Reply
  20. 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.

    By Luis on Oct 24, 2011 | Reply
  21. 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.

    By Inca on Oct 31, 2011 | Reply
  22. Hi Cynthia. What a relief. This program is awesome!!! Thank you so much.

    By Jenny on Nov 20, 2011 | Reply
  23. 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.

    By C-nic surfer on Dec 13, 2011 | Reply
  24. I keep getting Error:java.lang.NullPointerException…. any advice please?? This scholarship app is killing me.

    By 250 on Dec 25, 2011 | Reply
  25. 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!!! (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 :)))

    By reneag78 on Jan 30, 2012 | Reply
  26. Web Guru’s advice did not work.

    By Rochelle Cavallari on Jul 31, 2012 | Reply
  27. Wow thank you so much Cynthia! :) I was wondering how could I increase font size with this software?

    By Jess L on Jul 31, 2012 | Reply
  28. Worked great!!!


    By Dennis on Feb 28, 2013 | Reply
  29. Will this work for a Mac?

    By Denise on Mar 21, 2013 | Reply
  30. This is a great and easy fix to a problem I have been struggling with for a while. Thanks so much!

    By Monica on Mar 22, 2013 | Reply
  31. 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

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

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

  32. @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

    By Cynthia on Apr 12, 2013 | Reply
  33. 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.

    By Maureen Taylor on Jul 28, 2013 | Reply
  34. 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?

    By Terri on Aug 16, 2013 | Reply
  35. 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.

    By anonymous on Dec 6, 2013 | Reply
  36. 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.

    By Victoria on Dec 5, 2014 | Reply

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