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How to save an Acrobat fillable form so the user's answers can't be changed

Posted on 2013-05-21
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Last Modified: 2013-05-28
I am creating a fillable form (using Acrobat XI Standard) for our staff to fill out in Reader and then send to our clients as a static pdf. I know how to save the form as a Reader file but when I fill it out and send it it is still modifiable.

How can I create a fillable pdf that is then:
1. Saved as a form to be filled out by in-house staff using Reader
2. saved as a static pdf that will be sent to cients.
Corp-Employee-Ltr-Experts.pdf
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Question by:rumorandfolly
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 39187230
You would flatten the document - that would convert interactive content to static PDF content. The easiest way to do that is by installing the "Page Flattening Tools" from pdfscripting.com: http://www.pdfscripting.com/public/Free_Acrobat_Automation_Tools.cfm
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Author Comment

by:rumorandfolly
ID: 39188188
It seems that the Page Flattening Tool is for use by Acrobat which would be fine if I was doing all of the page flattening. However, all I'm doing is creating the fillable form, saving it as a Reader document which my staff will then fill in with our client's information to be sent to the client. Will the recommended Tool work as a Plug-in with Reader so that my staff can save each client-specific document and send to them as a static pdf?
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 39188531
No, this will not work with Reader, only Acrobat. One option would be to sign the document and select to lock the form with the signature. This way, the elements remain interactive, but can no longer be edited.
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Author Comment

by:rumorandfolly
ID: 39189266
So, to clarify your statement above: my staff who are going to be using Reader would have a way to sign the Reader doc with an e-signature which would make a "lock" available before sending the completed memo to their client?

If yes, then I would need to find out how each of them can acquire an e-signature. Is this correct? Any suggestions on that?
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Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 39189292
Yes, this is correct. If they have Adobe Reader XI, you don't have to do anything special besides adding the signature fields (and supplying the electronic signatures, or let your staff create them themselves). If they are working with older versions of Reader, you would have to Reader-enable the document (File>Save As Other>Reader Extended PDF>More Tools).

When you define the signature field, you select what should happen with the document once it is signed. You would select to lock all form fields.

Because you are not using the signature as a means to verify who signed the document, you don't need "real" digital signatures: You can create self-signed signatures with Acrobat form your staff.
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Author Comment

by:rumorandfolly
ID: 39189472
I get what you're saying but I can't seem to create the self-signed signatures. I have installed Reader XI and I use XI Standard to create my forms. I do not find Digital IDs in either program. I'm hunting everywhere and nothing turns up. Any advice on how to do this?
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Accepted Solution

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Karl Heinz Kremer earned 500 total points
ID: 39190733
It is possible that this is not available in Standard. I only have Pro, and I have to rely on Adobe's feature comparison to figure out if something is available in Standard or not.

In Pro, I go to Preferences>Signatures>Identities and Trusted Certificates>More...

Give that a try and see if you an create IDs this way.
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Author Comment

by:rumorandfolly
ID: 39192208
IT is going to be installing Pro XI for me this afternoon so I'll be able to follow your instructions soon. I believe you are instructing me to create e-signatures for all of the Reader users who will need to sign and lock their client memos. Correct?
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LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 39192662
Yes, that's correct. You could just create one digital ID, you are only using it to lock the file, so everybody could use the same.
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Author Closing Comment

by:rumorandfolly
ID: 39203154
Great solution and it's already in use. Creating IDs is not available in Standard but is in Pro. This is a very slick solution that we will be using for a lot more forms in the near future. Thank you VERY much!
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