Please hope me! Can I save this PDF form!
September 13, 2012 8:02 AM   Subscribe

I filled out a PDF form last night in Google Chrome and saved the PDF. Then I emailed it to someone important. This morning they told me they had received a blank form (!). I opened the attachment and yes, it's blank. *@#$&@!

Is there any way to save a filled-in PDF form from Google Chrome? (I did leave the browser tab open, thankfully.) If not, how do I need to open it and save it when I fill it out again? (And I don't seem to be able to copy and paste from the filled-out form; is that a thing?)

I'm not in Windows, I'm running the latest release of Ubuntu (Precise Pangolin).

Please hope me! All I can find online is other people who have done the same thing, but no answers :[
posted by fiercecupcake to Computers & Internet (22 answers total)
You can use something like PrimoPDF to print to a PDF. There are lots of programs that will let you print to a PDF, but Primo is free, and I use it all the time and think it's wonderful.
posted by phunniemee at 8:07 AM on September 13, 2012

Yes, print to PDF.
posted by Sara C. at 8:08 AM on September 13, 2012

You need to print to PDF after you have filled in the form information. You can also use Foxit Reader to annotate PDF's.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:09 AM on September 13, 2012

OK, I just did a quick test where I filled in a bit of the form and printed to PDF, and it didn't save the filled-in stuff. (I'm now on a Windows computer, but still in Chrome.)
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:12 AM on September 13, 2012

I'm also using Ubuntu 12.04. I find that for PDF forms, Adobe Reader usually does a good job. Just "Save as..." and open the file in Adobe Reader (I'm using v9.5.1). Then File -> Save a copy once you're done. (If you're paranoid, open the saved file in Evince to make sure the data's really there!)
posted by pont at 8:19 AM on September 13, 2012

When you download PrimoPDF, it will show up as a printer when you go to print something using the conventional method. I looked to see if there was a version of Primo for ubuntu (doesn't appear to be), but I did find this, which may be helpful to you.

If you're using a print button (I think it's sometimes green?) on the PDF itself, that won't work. If you're looking at the sort of thing I think you are, I'm pretty sure that just prints the blank form, which is exactly the opposite of what you need. You need to go through the actual print command on your computer.
posted by phunniemee at 8:19 AM on September 13, 2012

Make sure when you print the pdf that "document and annotations" is checked in the dialog box (if that option exists). I know you need to do that with PDFCreator not sure about Primo
posted by NoDef at 8:23 AM on September 13, 2012

P.S. If you do go down the Adobe Reader route, let me know -- it sometimes doesn't play nicely with the new Ubuntu Unity menus, and there's a one-line magic invocation you can do after installation to fix it.
posted by pont at 8:25 AM on September 13, 2012

Thanks, y'all! Still monkeying with it. phunniemee, when you say "You need to go through the actual print command on your computer," I'm not sure what you mean beyond trying to print it from the browser, which gives me the same dialog as using the button on the PDF, and also doesn't work :[
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:27 AM on September 13, 2012

I'm wondering if it's just a design problem with the document itself. I print PDF forms from Chrome pretty frequently with no issues.
posted by something something at 8:28 AM on September 13, 2012

I use pdf creator
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:31 AM on September 13, 2012

Sometimes I fill out PDF forms that give me a pop-up warning that says "no data typed into this form will be saved." I wonder if you are dealing with that type of file. Honestly, when I've been in the situation you're in, I print the PDF out (on paper) and then scan it in. Ridiculous, but it works.
posted by k96sc01 at 8:34 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I may be misunderstanding the situation here, but as far as I know if you don't have the full version of acrobat, you can't save data in PDF forms. You can physically print out the form that you just filled it out, but you can't actually save what you typed in there.
posted by Kimberly at 8:45 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I may be misunderstanding the situation here, but as far as I know if you don't have the full version of acrobat, you can't save data in PDF forms.

This actually is dependent on what the person who created the form is using -- if you are a person who creates forms in Acrobat Pro you can buy a plugin from Adobe that allows you to create forms that can be saved filled-in in Reader. If you don't purchase that plug-in, however, forms you create cannot be saved filled-in in Reader.

fiercecupcake -- is this something public that you can link us to? Someone may be able to get to the bottom of the problem better if they can see the actual form. Understood if not, though.
posted by brainmouse at 9:04 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

If all else fails, can you print the document (to actual paper), then scan it back in & send it?
posted by insectosaurus at 9:09 AM on September 13, 2012

I shouldn't link to it, and I would have to go somewhere to print it (which I could do, but was trying to avoid, because I'd have to go to FedEx Office and deal with them). There may be a Word version of the form available that I could just fill out again. I was just hoping to save all my hard work! (It's a nice long form with lots of tiny fields. Sigh.)
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:16 AM on September 13, 2012

This form (from the San Diego Building Department) is probably similar to what fiercecupcake is dealing with (link goes to PDF, duh). If I download the form to my computer and open it up, acrobat warns me that information typed in the form won't be saved, but I have been able to use the workaround that others have mentioned where I print the filled-out form as a pdf (I use Win2pdf, or full acrobat at places I've worked where I had it), and it's come out fine. One oddity with this form is that if you fill it out and then print it to a regular printer, filled in checkboxes don't show up, but they do if I go to pdf first.
posted by LionIndex at 9:33 AM on September 13, 2012

Are you still at the Windows machine? You could use the Snipping Tool to take a screen grab.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:34 AM on September 13, 2012

OK! It looks like if I go back to the form from the source, from the website, open it THERE and modify it, I can Print to PDF and it will save the edits! But not from my own copy of the form.

So there's hope! I will update when I get home. I'm sure y'all are all waiting with bated breath. ;]

Thank you thank you thank you.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:16 AM on September 13, 2012

Kimberly, brainmouse: oops yes, I should have pointed out that the Adobe Reader technique only works if the form has been set up correctly for it, which may not be the case here. For other forms (anything down to a raw scan of a paper form!) I use the free version of PDF-Xchange viewer, which has a typewriter tool to overlay text on absolutely any PDF document. Windows only, but runs perfectly under Wine.
posted by pont at 11:10 AM on September 13, 2012

if you don't have the full version of acrobat, you can't save data in PDF forms.

Just for clarity, yes, you actually can save data in a PDF form even if you only have Acrobat Reader. The way it is done is that when the PDF form is created, the author has the option to create a "Reader Extended PDF" which builds in the save function. Sort of a standalone runtime thing. Following that, anybody with Acro Reader can save.

However, persons with third party PDF creation software are not always able to create a savable PDF nor might they be able to save the PDF if data is entered. I don't have a list of which ones work or not as all the forms I make come directly out of Adobe products. The only time I use third party stuff is for specific functions that may exist in those apps but Adobe has not seen fit to implement for whatever reason.

As far as this particular website goes, I am not sure what restrictions (if any) are on that site for saving the PDF from its online state. Not only could there be restrictions embedded in the PDF, but the site itself may restrict it. Better a web person address that second part as I do not build sites at all.

Finally, as also noted, without seeing the site and PDF in question, all this is rather pointless to try to explain. PDFs come in a few flavors and it really depends on what has been uploaded. So if you can provide a link, that would be great.
posted by lampshade at 2:46 PM on September 13, 2012


I can't provide a link, because I don't really want it linked to my account, and it seemed silly to ask this anonymously. So: print to PDF from the browser after filling it in on the original site. YAY!

AskMe saves my bacon again! So grateful :D
posted by fiercecupcake at 4:05 PM on September 13, 2012

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