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But note that when you do so, the result is a static document.
This is different from filling in fields with Adobe Reader and saving the result. If you do that, the fields remain editable.
Either may be preferable, depending on your requirements.
I use (the excellent) PDFPenPro, to create PDF Forms... When I open them with Preview, they work great, and if you do a 'Save As' the form is intact. Also, if you open the PDF Form and do a 'Duplicate' the form remains. However, if you Export or Print to PDF, the form fields are removed.
 


All valid points (and tips), but I have found that the average end user has no real understanding of this. When you start sharing PDF forms between multiple parties on different platforms and applications, things can get problematic (ie. Acrobat > Preview > Acrobat).
That's a problem that needs to be documented. Even if students can't be bothered to read anything, those of us who need to know should have that information available for troubleshooting. Many companies are moving to electronic contracts as well as electronic forms in PDF format, and it's getting messy. Another problem is the use of PDF forms in proofing documents, which requires annotation. That's why I stick with Acrobat except when it lacks the features I need, like the ability to excerpt a few pages from a PDF book or magazine.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I use (the excellent) PDFPenPro, to create PDF Forms...
Just a word of warning to others: I purchased PDFpen from Apple's Mac App Store after trying a demo, because I had a business-critical IRS form I had to fill out, and Apple Preview couldn't do the job. Unfortunately, PDFpen was a disaster, failing to even save changes/files correctly. I tried to get a refund from Apple's Mac App Store, but Apple refused to refund the purchase (which makes me extremely wary of buying any software again from Apple).

Considering decades of Mac experience, the fact that none of my other software ever behaves like this, and other PDFPen bug reports, I don't think this is "cockpit error", although I recognize that others' experiences can differ. (One theory I haven't tested is that installing the demo version may have affected the subsequently purchased version somehow. Also, I didn't buy their highest-priced version.)
 


Just a word of warning to others: I purchased PDFpen from Apple's Mac App Store after trying a demo, because I had a business-critical IRS form I had to fill out, and Apple Preview couldn't do the job. Unfortunately, PDFpen was a disaster, failing to even save changes/files correctly. I tried to get a refund from Apple's Mac App Store, but Apple refused to refund the purchase (which makes me extremely wary of buying any software again from Apple).
Considering decades of Mac experience, the fact that none of my other software ever behaves like this, and other PDFPen bug reports, I don't think this is "cockpit error", although I recognize that others' experiences can differ. (One theory I haven't tested is that installing the demo version may have affected the subsequently purchased version somehow. Also, I didn't buy their highest-priced version.)
I have had great support with PDFPen Pro support on any issues. I think if you contact them, they may be able to resolve any open issues you have. Also, they sell the app directly and possibly it has differences from the Mac App Store version. Smile Software has been around a long while in the Mac space and is committed to happy customers, in my opinion. (Just a long time Smile customer.)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I think if you contact them, they may be able to resolve any open issues you have.
Frankly, I do not have spare time to spend helping companies debug gross bugs that should never have gotten out of alpha testing. As I said, people's experiences may differ, but mine was unusually bad, and I wasn't interested in wasting more time on troubleshooting after already spending hours fighting to use buggy software to get a critical, yet very simple, job done - nothing more than filling out a simple IRS form and saving it for electronic transmission to a financial institution.

Now that I think about it, in light of more discussion above, perhaps Apple Preview was part of the problem, but I simply haven't had time to revisit the whole mess, and I wanted to let people know about the issue – they can read other reviews for themselves (e.g. on the Mac App Store and MacUpdate), which are not great. Caveat emptor.
 


When you start sharing PDF forms between multiple parties on different platforms and applications, things can get problematic (ie. Acrobat > Preview > Acrobat).
I ran into a similar problem several years ago. I downloaded a PDF document (SF-52) from Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Everything looked right and I sent it along with other documents to HR for a job application. I was later informated by HR that my form was blank and my application rejected. I looked at it again in Preview and it was fine. It was not fine, however, in Adobe Reader. There was no information in the fillable sections.

As a test, I did a select-all (Cmd-A) and, lo and behold, the "invisible" text suddenly appeared. I shared this information with HR. A few days later I received a call from the HR noting that this solved the mystery of why they had received some blank forms. As a result, they had to go back and reevaluate several job applications that had been rejected.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Just a word of warning to others: I purchased PDFpen from Apple's Mac App Store after trying a demo, because I had a business-critical IRS form I had to fill out, and Apple Preview couldn't do the job. Unfortunately, PDFpen was a disaster, failing to even save changes/files correctly. I tried to get a refund from Apple's Mac App Store, but Apple refused to refund the purchase (which makes me extremely wary of buying any software again from Apple)....
I got an unsolicted note from PDFpen Support, and we're discussing the issues. For what it's worth in the meantime, they mentioned the following issue (though I don't know if it's actually involved in the problems I experienced, and I didn't test on anything but a macOS Sierra production system):
"Angel"/Smile Support said:
... Meantime, since you mentioned you were having problems with a government form, I suspect you've encountered an Adobe LiveCycle Document.

... LiveCycle forms looks like PDFs but implements the XML Forms Architecture (XFA), as specified by Adobe, along with a number of proprietary extensions. Unfortunately, most LiveCycle documents have content with a proprietary Adobe encoding so that content is not accessible to Preview, PDFpen, or many other third-party apps. In these cases, Adobe has opted to "extend" their own open specification with such closed and proprietary items, but I'm afraid that is beyond our control. Full interaction with these forms are usually limited to Adobe-apps only, and some documents do provide such messages, but others do not. The frustration stems from the fact that most people cannot tell the difference between a normal cross-platform PDF and a LiveCycle PDF without that message.

You may want to check if the form allows printing from Adobe via File > PRINT > PDF > Save as PDF. In some cases, you can print to PDF and open it in another PDF application to fill out manually without the built-in form fields. Or, using PDFpenPro, you can use the automatic form creation tool (Edit > Create for Fields for Page/Document) to have the app guess and create form fields for you. Hold down the Option key if you want to switch to "Create for Fields for Document."
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I got an unsolicted note from PDFpen Support, and we're discussing the issues....
The problem with the tax form does appear to be the IRS using Adobe LiveCycle Designer to create their PDF, and "Preview and other apps will also have problems with it as well," according to Smile Software, though I assume Acrobat would work. The company suggested a workaround for their more expensive PDFpen "Pro" version:
"Angel"/Smile Software said:
... If you encounter any other forms from LiveCycle Designer, you can try the same workaround I used for this form:

1. Export as TIFF (File > Export)
2. Open in PDFpenPro
3. Choose Edit > Create Form Fields for Page to recreate new fields
4. Fill out the form and save it
 


Just a word of warning to others: I purchased PDFpen from Apple's Mac App Store after trying a demo, because I had a business-critical IRS form I had to fill out, and Apple Preview couldn't do the job. Unfortunately, PDFpen was a disaster, failing to even save changes/files correctly. I tried to get a refund from Apple's Mac App Store, but Apple refused to refund the purchase (which makes me extremely wary of buying any software again from Apple).
The exact scenario happened to me years ago when PDFPenPro was new. I tried it out, all looked good, at about page 11 (as I recall) of a corporate tax return, I watched as everything I had added to the form appeared (quite literally) to just slide off the screen much as decals that were too wet would slide off the models I built as a kid.

The folks at PDFPen (Smile) refunded my purchase and, as a bonus, let me keep a license for their software. Not that I ever used it again. What bothered me most in my conversation with them was my belief they knew of the problem. Why, then, didn't they advise against using their software for the common-enough purpose of filling in forms created with Adobe's Acrobat?

One comment I recall. Preview had (and still has) the same issue, and I believe PDFPen was using (and is probably still using) whatever "engine" is built into macOS to power Preview's handling of PDFs.

We've had several versions of Acrobat Pro at work. I've used it to create our own forms that we posted online that would then auto-generate emails to us with just the tiny amount of data which users added as they completed the forms. That data auto-filled the same forms in our office, which were then completed PDFs ready for review. Slick, but as Acrobat was a moving target, becoming ever more expensive with new versions, it was not cost effective to continue.
The problem with the tax form does appear to be the IRS using Adobe LiveCycle Designer to create their PDF
Had not heard of LiveCycle Designer. Read about it. Seems a way for Adobe to extend the PDF format it created but didn't try to control.

Found this related document, which is, ironically a PDF:
Middle Georgia State University said:
Converting a LiveCycle PDF to an Adobe PDF.
LiveCycle is no longer a recommend way to create or edit PDFs, it requires additional software that may not be available and these PDFs may not display correctly on the University website -
 


The exact scenario happened to me years ago when PDFPenPro was new. I tried it out, all looked good, at about page 11 (as I recall) of a corporate tax return, I watched as everything I had added to the form appeared (quite literally) to just slide off the screen much as decals that were too wet would slide off the models I built as a kid.
Smile Software (PDFPen) and I have a love/hate relationship. It works most of the time but of course never when I have a deadline. They are very good at replying to trouble reports, and they actually take the time to try to reproduce a problem -- even on your PDF if you will send it to them. My last problem was that I could not select a box of text, no matter how I tried. The problem turned out to be a corrupted font in Mojave – a font that wasn't even in the document.

And that lead me to use FontBook to discover that 1/4 of my fonts were bad, and a further deep dive let me know that over half were Postscript Type 1 (antique and barely supported). I let FontBook restore my font folder, and PDFPen worked.

Unfortunately I also had to spend $500 replacing a bunch of fonts that I use on a day to day basis and probably have another $1,000-2,000 to go to replace the lightly-used ones.
 


Unfortunately I also had to spend $500 replacing a bunch of fonts that I use on a day to day basis and probably have another $1,000-2,000 to go to replace the lightly-used ones.
A possible cheaper solution might be something like FontXChange from FontGear. So far, I have had success with converting old Type 1. I have quite a bit more I haven't gotten to though.
 


A possible cheaper solution might be something like FontXChange from FontGear. So far, I have had success with converting old Type 1. I have quite a bit more I haven't gotten to though.
Thanks, Will. FontXChange was my go-to for many years, but I can't get it to run on Mojave. Every time it's started it asks to install components, and every time I try to add a font, it crashes. And even if it did work, converted fonts are missing several characters which didn't exist during the Postscript 1 era, like the Euro symbol.
 


Thanks, Will. FontXChange was my go-to for many years, but I can't get it to run on Mojave. Every time it's started it asks to install components, and every time I try to add a font, it crashes. And even if it did work, converted fonts are missing several characters which didn't exist during the Postscript 1 era, like the Euro symbol.
Seems to be working fine under Mojave here - FontXChange 5.3 and Mojave 10.14.6 (18G3020). I just converted an old CD of fonts ("Bitstream 500" circa 1994) that came in Windows Postscript and TrueType. Both formats converted to OpenType with no obvious issues. They all previewed fine in FontExplorer.

The component installation seems configurable in settings.
 


Seems to be working fine under Mojave here - FontXChange 5.3 and Mojave 10.14.6 (18G3020). I just converted an old CD of fonts ("Bitstream 500" circa 1994) that came in Windows Postscript and TrueType. Both formats converted to OpenType with no obvious issues. They all previewed fine in FontExplorer. The component installation seems configurable in settings.
I also used FontXChange to convert my 8,000+ font library (PostScript and TrueType) to OpenType with minimal problem, if I remember correctly. This was back in 2011 when FontXChange was still at version 2.1. I can imagine that the software has only gotten better since.
 


I want to thank everyone who posted about FontXChange. I have been having instability issues with my computer (now running Mojave) since at least macOS Sierra. It got so bad I upgraded from a MacBook Pro Retina mid 2012 to a 2018 Mac Mini, which helped a little, but I still had some instability – random crashes, restarts, and an inability to install updates without unplugging everything but the monitor and installing a delta update. I put it down to various 3rd-party apps getting in each others' way, but never took the time to try and pin it down, since I like all those 3rd-party apps and utilities.

Well, I did notice that I had some very old Type 2 fonts which are loaded by FontAgent. I decided to fix everything with FontXChange, which took a bit of doing with over 2,000 fonts. After all was said and done, my Mini seemed a little bit snappier, but more to the point, I was able to do the next system update with no problem, and my computer didn't spontaneously shut down (when that would happen, I would have to do a safe boot to get everything back up and running again).

What a dunce! I should have done this years ago. Now, a few weeks after I did this, my computer is rock-solid and hasn't frozen or shut down since. Thank you again, Kathryn, Will, Tony, and FontGear!
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Howard Oakley writes about Apple's Preview app and PDF issues:
Eclectic Light Co. said:
How Preview mangles annotations
A few years ago, Apple decided to completely rewrite its support for PDFs in PDFKit and Quartz2D. The new version broke a lot of existing code, and developers were forced to work around those bugs. Among the apps which had to do this was Apple’s own Preview. One obvious result is that Preview acquired its own bugs in handling PDFs, and hasn’t really recovered yet.

#applequality
 


It's not just Preview that mangles PDF annotations. I have been experiencing problems with Adobe Acrobat Reader DC itself. A lot of publishers use PDF formats for proofing published documents, which they send out to authors to check. After some initial problems, Adobe finally settled on a workable format that let you mark corrections by highlighting an error, marking it for deletion, and typing the correction into a box that popped up. That option has now disappeared, leaving the only way to make a correction marking a deletion, then trying to insert a comment box where the editor can find it. The last time I tried it a couple of days ago, the changes I inserted did not stick, prompting a frantic email from an on-deadline editor. I had to go back to my old standby, printing out a page, marking corrections by hand, then scanning the page and sending a PDF of my handwritten corrections. This change appears to have been rolled out quietly with another of Adobe's bug fixes.

I rather doubt this is an accidentally introduced bug. The same revisions introduced an Edit option that requires a $15/month paid subscription (with a 'free' 7-day option), so it looks like more money-grubbing by Adobe.
 


It's not just Preview that mangles PDF annotations. I have been experiencing problems with Adobe Acrobat Reader DC itself. A lot of publishers use PDF formats for proofing published documents, which they send out to authors to check. After some initial problems, Adobe finally settled on a workable format that let you mark corrections by highlighting an error, marking it for deletion, and typing the correction into a box that popped up.
What version number? I believe I just tried this on Acrobat Reader 2020.006.200.42 on Windows and it seems to work, i.e. select the text, menu-select Correct Text, then add a comment. Then save as a separate file.
 


What version number? I believe I just tried this on Acrobat Reader 2020.006.200.42 on Windows and it seems to work, i.e. select the text, menu-select Correct Text, then add a comment. Then save as a separate file.
I am on Mac Acrobat Reader DC 2020.006.20042, but it does not list "Correct Text," it offers the option of "Highlight Text, Strikethrough, Add Note to Replace Text, and Add Note to Text." When I tried Add Note to Replace Text, saved it, and sent it, the editor (I believe on Windows) could not see it. Other science writers on another mailing list are reporting similar problems. This may be a Mac-specific bug.
 


I am on Mac Acrobat Reader DC 2020.006.20042, but it does not list "Correct Text," it offers the option of "Highlight Text, Strikethrough, Add Note to Replace Text, and Add Note to Text." When I tried Add Note to Replace Text, saved it, and sent it, the editor (I believe on Windows) could not see it. Other science writers on another mailing list are reporting similar problems. This may be a Mac-specific bug.
I'm sure you're aware of these but just in case you don't know:

According to Adobe they moved the annotation tools in May 2019 - you can use quick actions in a floating toolbar to add comments while viewing a PDF:


In addition, they note: in Acrobat Reader, complete commenting tools are available only in PDFs that have commenting enabled:

 


In addition, they note: in Acrobat Reader, complete commenting tools are available only in PDFs that have commenting enabled:
Thanks! That could explain a lot that I've been seeing. I do not have access to Acrobat Pro, but I have noticed differences in what I can do with documents from different editors, and I was wondering why. I suspect some editors may not understand Acrobat Pro any better than I do.
 


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