In the digital age, where paperwork has taken a leap from physical to virtual, PDF (Portable Document Format) has become a prevalent file format. It’s the go-to choice for preserving the integrity of documents, ensuring they remain unaltered during transmission. But what about when you need to alter or fill them out?
That’s where fillable PDF forms come in handy. These interactive versions of PDFs have areas—known as fields—that you can click on and enter data. However, editing these forms isn’t always as intuitive as you’d hope, which leads us to our topic of the day: how to edit fillable PDF forms.
Fillable PDF Forms Explained
Before we dive into the ‘how,’ it’s crucial to understand the ‘what.’ Fillable PDF forms, also known as interactive PDFs, are documents that have been converted into an interactive format. They contain form fields where you can type information directly, check boxes for multiple-choice questions, and even drop-down menus for selecting options.
This functionality makes these forms ideal for online applications, surveys, contracts, and tax forms. Unlike their non-interactive counterparts, these PDFs can be filled out on a computer or mobile device, eliminating the need for printouts.
The Need for These Editors
While fillable PDFs are designed for direct interaction, not all PDF viewers support this feature. That’s where the question “What is the best free editor?” comes into play. The editor allows you to interact with the document, whether it’s filling out a form, adding annotations, or even adjusting the layout.
Notably, not every editor supports the fillable feature, so it’s essential to choose one that does. The good news is there are numerous free and premium tools available for every major operating system, including Windows, Mac, Linux, and even mobile platforms. Each tool offers a different set of features and user interfaces, so you’ll need to pick one that best suits your needs.
Top Free PDF Editors
Let’s discuss some of the most popular free editors that support fillable forms:
1. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is a globally recognized software application developed by Adobe Systems. It is a free and highly comprehensive tool used for viewing, printing, signing, sharing, and annotating PDFs. Compatible with various operating systems, including Windows, MacOS, and Android, it serves as an indispensable tool for individuals and businesses alike.
Its versatile features include options to highlight text, add comments, and fill in forms, providing significant assistance in document collaboration and organization.
Moreover, this software integrates seamlessly with Adobe’s Document Cloud service. This allows users to access and manage their PDFs from any device, anywhere, thus promoting mobility and flexibility.
With the additional service subscription, users can convert, edit, and create PDFs directly in Microsoft Office or on their browser. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, with its robust and innovative feature set, stands as a trusted solution for handling PDF files in a convenient and efficient manner.
PDFLiner is a robust online PDF editing and management platform. It offers a user-friendly interface for working with documents, including options for editing, annotating, signing, and sharing files.
This platform operates entirely online, removing the need to download or install any software and making it accessible from any device with internet connectivity. It provides a host of features, such as form filling, document conversion, and the ability to add digital signatures, making it a valuable tool for personal and business-related PDF tasks.
In addition to these, PDFLiner also offers a unique feature of searching and filling in various forms from its extensive database, which can be extremely handy for users dealing with a large number of standardized forms. Moreover, it has robust security protocols in place to ensure data safety, which is crucial for handling sensitive documents.
The platform provides a free trial period, post which users can opt for a subscription plan to access premium features. In all, PDFLiner presents an intuitive and versatile solution for a wide array of PDF-related tasks, aligning well with the evolving needs of digital documentation.
3. Foxit Reader
Foxit Reader is a versatile PDF solution developed by Foxit Software Incorporated. It is a popular free-to-use application designed for viewing, creating, and printing PDFs across various operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android.
This software is often lauded for its lightweight nature, consuming fewer resources compared to other similar applications, making it a favorable choice for users with less powerful systems. Additionally, it includes interactive features such as the ability to annotate, highlight, and comment within PDFs, which makes it particularly useful for collaboration and document reviewing.
Beyond its fundamental capabilities, Foxit Reader also allows users to fill out forms, digitally sign documents, and securely protect their PDF files. It offers support for cloud storage services, integrating with services like Google Drive and Dropbox, allowing users to access their documents from anywhere.
With advanced features like multiple viewing modes, text converter, and integration with social networks for sharing, Foxit Reader provides a comprehensive, yet lightweight PDF solution for personal and professional use.
4. PDF-XChange Editor
PDF-XChange Editor is a highly efficient software application developed by Tracker Software Products. It is a feature-rich tool that allows users to create, view, edit, annotate, and digitally sign PDF files.
It distinguishes itself from other PDF tools through its speed and efficiency, handling complex and large files with relative ease. The software has a user-friendly interface with a host of editing tools such as the ability to add comments, notes, and links, making it a valuable resource for both personal and professional use.
Another notable aspect of PDF-XChange Editor is its OCR (Optical Character Recognition) capability. This enables users to scan printed documents and convert them into editable and searchable text, thereby aiding in document digitization.
It also allows users to export PDF files into several different formats including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Additionally, it integrates seamlessly with cloud storage services for easy file access and sharing. Despite being a paid tool, it offers a free version with substantial capabilities, reinforcing its commitment to providing a versatile PDF solution for diverse user needs.
Sejda is a dynamic, web-based PDF tool that provides a range of services for managing and modifying PDF documents. It offers a variety of features such as PDF editing, annotating, merging, splitting, compressing, and converting to and from other formats.
Available both as a free service and a premium subscription, Sejda is a platform that doesn’t require any software downloads or installations, making it readily accessible from any device with internet access. Its intuitive user interface ensures an easy and straightforward user experience, making it suitable for both novices and experienced users.
What sets Sejda apart is its commitment to data privacy, as it automatically deletes uploaded files after two hours. It also allows users to edit directly in the browser, which adds an additional level of convenience.
With its unique set of features, such as adding signatures, extracting text, and batch processing of tasks, Sejda caters to a wide range of needs for personal and professional PDF handling. Despite its web-based nature, it also offers a desktop application for users who prefer offline tools, making Sejda a flexible and user-centric PDF solution.
PDFescape is an online PDF reader, editor, form filler, and form designer, all wrapped into one convenient platform. With no need for any software downloads or installations, it operates fully in your web browser, making it a go-to solution for users seeking instant accessibility and ease of use.
It provides a broad array of functionalities, including the ability to view and edit PDF documents, create new forms, fill out existing forms, and annotate PDF documents, all for free.
For users looking for a bit more, PDFescape also offers a premium version with enhanced features. This version includes the ability to publish PDF forms for others to fill out, remove old content, and permanently hide sensitive information through its robust redaction feature.
Importantly, this platform prioritizes user security by providing password protection for PDF files. Overall, it offers a comprehensive and secure online toolset that caters to a wide range of PDF management needs, making it a valuable resource for both personal and professional document handling.
Editing Fillable PDFs: A Step-by-Step Guide
Here’s a general guide on how to edit fillable PDFs. We’ll use Adobe Acrobat Reader DC for this example, but the process should be similar in other tools.
- Opening the PDF: Launch Adobe Acrobat Reader DC and open the fillable PDF form you want to edit. Click on the ‘File’ menu, select ‘Open,’ and navigate to your document.
- Filling the Form: Click on the highlighted fields to start typing. If it’s a checkbox, just click to check or uncheck. For dropdown menus, click to see the options and select the one you want.
- Saving Your Work: After filling out the form, save your work. Click on the ‘File’ menu, select ‘Save As,’ choose your destination, and click ‘Save.’ It’s good practice to use a different name to preserve the original blank form for future use.
- Signing the Document: If the document requires a signature, Acrobat Reader DC has you covered. Click on the ‘Fill & Sign’ tool on the right pane. You can then use your mouse or touch screen to draw your signature or type your name and have it converted into a signature.
- Review and Submit: Before submitting or sharing the filled form, double-check your entries. Make sure you’ve filled in all necessary fields and that everything is accurate.
It’s worth mentioning that while Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is a robust tool, it does have limitations. Some advanced features are locked behind a paywall. However, you can always find alternatives that might offer these features for free.
PDF Filler Free Online
Another option to edit fillable PDFs is to use an online tool. These platforms provide a convenient way to edit your PDFs without having to install software.
One of the most popular online editors is PDFescape. Here’s a brief guide on how to use it:
- Visit the official website.
- Click on the ‘Free Online’ button.
- Click ‘Upload PDF to PDFescape,’ then choose your file and click ‘Upload.’
- To fill out a form, simply click on a field and start typing.
- To save your work, click on the green ‘Save & Download’ button on the left side.
Online tools are fantastic for quick edits and when you’re away from your primary computer. However, remember that uploading sensitive documents online carries some risk. Always ensure you’re using a secure connection and trust the platform you’re utilizing.
Making a PDF Fillable
Sometimes, you may need to create a fillable PDF form or convert a non-interactive file into a fillable one. For this task, you’ll need a more advanced editor like Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, Foxit PhantomPDF, or Sejda.
The process typically involves opening your file in the editor, selecting the ‘Form’ option, and then choosing ‘Edit.’ You can then add fields, checkboxes, and dropdown menus as needed. Once you’re done, save your document, and voila! You have a fillable form.
Advanced Editing: Beyond Fillable Forms
While fillable forms are a significant part of editing PDFs, there’s more to it than just filling out fields. In this section, we’ll delve into some advanced editing techniques and tools that can help elevate your editing game.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
OCR is a technology that enables you to extract text from scanned documents or images. This is especially useful when you have a non-interactive file that you need to convert into a fillable form. By using an OCR-enabled editor, you can recognize the text and create fillable fields on top of it, making the document interactive and editable.
Examples of editors with OCR capabilities include Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, ABBYY FineReader, and Nuance Power PDF.
Adding Security Features
If you’re working with sensitive information or need to ensure that your files are tamper-proof, adding security features is crucial. Many PDF editors provide encryption, password protection, and digital signatures to help you safeguard your documents.
For instance, Adobe Acrobat Pro DC allows you to encrypt your files with a password, restrict editing and printing capabilities, and even certify documents with a digital signature. This helps ensure that only authorized users can access or modify the document.
Editing Text and Images
While fillable PDF forms primarily deal with adding new information, you might also need to edit existing content. This includes changing text, resizing or repositioning images, or even altering the overall layout. A robust editor will provide these capabilities, enabling you to fine-tune your documents to perfection.
Some examples of editors that offer advanced text and image editing features are Nitro Pro, PDFelement, and Infix PDF Editor.
Merging and Splitting PDFs
When working with multiple files, you may need to combine them into a single document or extract specific pages. This is especially useful when assembling reports or presentations. Look for an editor that offers merge and split functionality to simplify this process.
Many popular editors, such as Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, Foxit PhantomPDF, and PDFsam Basic, provide merging and splitting features.
Redaction is the process of permanently removing sensitive information from a document. If you’re working with confidential data, it’s essential to have a PDF editor that supports redaction. This way, you can ensure that any sensitive information is securely removed before sharing or distributing the document.
Notable editors that offer redaction capabilities include Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, Foxit PhantomPDF, and PDFelement.
Mobile PDF Editing
In today’s fast-paced world, having the ability to edit PDFs on the go is invaluable. Thankfully, there are many mobile apps available for both iOS and Android that allow you to edit fillable forms, annotate, sign, and share documents directly from your smartphone or tablet.
Some popular mobile editors include Adobe Acrobat Reader Mobile, Foxit MobilePDF, and Xodo PDF Reader & Editor.
Editing fillable forms doesn’t have to be a complex task. By leveraging the right tools and following these steps, you can easily fill out, sign, and submit your digital paperwork. Just remember to pick a tool that suits your needs—whether it’s a robust desktop application or a ‘pdf filler free online.’ And finally, always double-check your work before submitting it to avoid any potential issues.
Whether you’re dealing with work documents, government forms, or personal paperwork, knowing how to edit fillable forms is a crucial skill in the digital age. So, the next time you come across a fillable PDF form, you’ll know exactly what to do!
Remember, technology is there to make our lives easier. Use it to your advantage and say goodbye to the hassles of physical paperwork.