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Save “Un-Savable” Data Entered Into A PDF Form

You’ve been through it before; you’re filling out a PDF form for school, work, or your taxes when you see the message at the top:

“You cannot save text entered into this document. Please fill it out and print it.”

If your computer is hooked up to a printer, this isn’t a problem. But what if you’re using a laptop, with no access to a printer? You’re screwed, right? Better start that 10-page form all over again on a different computer!

Unless…. is there actually a way to save that text?

In The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg comes up for the idea for Facebook’s relationship status feature when he tells a classmate that people don’t wear their relationship status around their neck. The solution to this PDF problem came to me in much the same way; a friend walked into my room near midnight asking to use my printer, because he had spent an hour filling in a non-savable form for one of his classes. After groaning, I asked him why he would fill out an un-savable form without access to a printer. I didn’t really hear his excuse though, because a possible solution hit me – could I save the document with the Microsoft XPS Document Writer and somehow convert it to a PDF?

It turns out that my solution worked. So here’s the details on how to pull it off if you ever run into un-savable documents.

  1. Fill out your document
  2. Bring up the Print menu and choose the Microsoft XPS Document Writer as your printer
  3. Hit Print. A Save dialogue will come up. Save the document wherever you want.
  4. Now it’s time to convert the XPS document. Go to http://www.xps2pdf.co.uk/ and upload your document.
  5. Hit the Convert button, and then download your PDF!

Now you’ll have a saved PDF with all the text you entered. Then, you can save it in your Dropbox and print it out when you get to another computer!