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What likely happened is someone used Preview on a Mac to fill-in and save the form. Preview is very buggy with respect to PDF forms. A quick fix of sorts is to export the form data to a file and re-import it. You can achieve the same effect automatically with a script, but this does not repair all of the damage.
Interesting....I will see if that is what they did!!!
I was able to fix the one I have for now, by actually going in and changing the font size in each field from 12 to 10? I don't know why that would work, but it did for this one.
But, I will tell the person who created it, not to use that preview as you mentioned and see if that does it for good ;-)
That works because it gets Acrobat to redraw the field appearance, which is the problem. Preview doesn't save the PDF correctly and field appearances can get corrupted. Importing the data back in causes Acrobat to redraw the field, partially correcting things.
Makes perfect sense!!!
I also did your export and import of the data and it worked great!!!!
thanks so much!!!!
How do I stop getting tons of these forum/support e-mails. None is related to my
own question, and on the Adobe site, I have been unable to find where to stop
getting all of the e-mails.
I am having the same problem. Did you figure out what the problem was? Do you think it is a setting on the creation end? I have over 15 forms returned with no fields showing up. Going in and changing the font is nearly out of the question for me. What to do? glendaox
If your users are using Preview, it is most likely due to the problem we've been discussing. For an easier approach, you can use a script, such as the one discussed here: http://blogs.adobe.com/pdfdevjunkie/script_to_fix_mac_osx_previewa.html
That particular script is less than ideal as it doesn't deal with fields other than text fields, and doesn't use the best approach then. If anyone is interested in a better script, let me know and I'll make it available.
George's solution using the export field data and the re-importing it only took a few seconds....It may be something at least for now?
Ok; I'll try that. Was hoping you may have come up with a better fix by now! I'm asking someone today to answer those questions for me. If she is using a MAC and if she is opening it in the preview mode, that might be my answer. I will need to give instructions to my audience NOT to complete the form in the preview mode.
I'm a basic script user and writer, so bear with me. I'm assuming I put this script in the print function when I create the form?
I've asked the person completing the form today to let me know if she is using a MAC and if so, if she is opening it in Preview mode. This has happened often, but I haven't had the time to investigate the problem. We fund research in the biomedical sciences so the application and reporting forms are all PDF files I set up for applicants to complete. I don't work on a MAC but a lot of the institutions solely use MACs. They complete a budget form so I guess the script would not work for that form. I really do need a better fix. If you can help with a better approach I'd sure appreciate it.
Just to clarify, it is the Preview application that causes the trouble. Using the term "preview mode" might be confusing. The users should use Adobe Reader to complete and save the form.
The script I mentioned is not one you include in the document, but rather you install it on your machine. It simply allows you to easily process any such forms you encounter by providing a custom menu item that you use. It has installation instructions. You can also create custom toolbar button in a similar way to make it even easier.
I do have to clean up a few details with my script, but I'll a link to it here within a day.
I see, thanks for the clarification. I am incorporating an instruction for MAC users - which would have been incorrect. If they have only "Reader" on their MAC, can they complete the form and save it to their system? I thought they, like we non-MAC users, had to have Adobe Acrobat to save a file. (I need experience on a MAC, for sure). Will await the script, and thanks again.
Reader normally cannot save a modified form, but it can if you've added usage rights to the document with Acrobat: Advanced > Extend Features in Adobe Reader. This is the preferred method. The script is just to make salvaging Preview-modified forms easier.
Ok; so I will start adding usage rights to my forms and using the
script, which hopefully will help. I'll also add in the completion
instructions that the user should (preferably) complete and save the
form using Adobe Reader (;)opposite of what I've been saying) or Adobe
Acrobat Professional. And, if they open the form through the "Preview"
application there may be problems with their and our ability to view
and/or print the completed form.
On my end, with the script, I still should be able to see and print the
Now, here is the message I received from one user which seems to add
"I have definitely found something weird....When the files are opened
using either "Preview" or "Adobe acrobat Professional" they are both
open and complete as seen on the screen, but when I try to print them,
the forms will only print when I open them with Preview. They are
completely blank (apart from the forms themselves) when opened with
Acrobat (despite me being able to see the completed form, which includes
everything that I typed into the form, on the screen)."
This is a huge problem with interactive forms...I don't understand why
Adobe hasn't fixed it.
Please keep any words of wisdom coming; I can't thank you enough.
If you are free to email me a form, I can check it out to see if it's a problem with the PDF. My email address is in my profile.
This is very helpful. But does anyone know why Preview is able to open a fillable-form pdf and allow it to be filled in? (When I try it in Preview, there are some limitations — e.g. you can't click on buttons or boxes, and it ignores fields defined as required.)
Is there anything you can lock on the pdf form to prevent Preview (or any other non Acrobat program - are there any?) from accessing these files and allowing a user to fill them in?
There are indeed other PDF viewers. Most do not support forms, but there are some that do a fairly good job. The best two are Foxit Reader and Nitro Pro/Reader. You may not want to exclude these.
As to why Preview allows some form interactivity but ultimately botches things up, that's a good question for Apple. It's simply buggy. It would be better if it didn't pretend to work with forms until things are fixed.
If you're using Acrobat Pro, turn off Output Preview.
Yes, I am using Pro, thanks for the tip. I'll try it.
I really appreciate your help and expertise. I am starting to understand this.
I've mentioned more than one script here. What are you looking for, exactly?