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 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!

Thomas Frank is the geek behind College Info Geek. After paying off $14K in student loans before graduating, landing jobs and internships, starting a successful business, and travelling the globe, he's now on a mission to help you build a remarkable college experience as well. Get the Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram

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  1. Houston we have a problem. I created xps file ran it thru the “turn xps into pdf” routine and wound up with some guy’s file that contained information that I’m sure he doesn’t want out there. DOB and SSN.
    I don’t know where my info went however it was not as sensitive as Mr. Knack’s.
    For me, I got what I paid for, nada. I’m not a nubie which could be my problem been doing this since 80’s when we had 10 meg hard drives running business software. Don’t ask me how….it was magic.

  2. I LOVE YOU and now will want to stalk you for the rest of your life. Seriously, Thanks for this. You saved me a BOAT LOAD of time.

  3. Excellent article , I am thankful for the analysis . Does someone know where I might grab a fillable USCIS I-9 CNMI document to type on ?

  4. I found the best solution is to install PDF Exchange Viewer (and remove all other PDF programs, such as Adobe and Foxit). PDF Exchange Viewer is free and it provides full PDF viewing AND editing capabilities. It works just like you would expect any editor to work. That is, you can open a PDF form, enter data, save the PDF form, and open it any time later to continue editing. No drama, no hoops. Highly recommended.

    P.S. During install of PDF Exchange Viewer be sure to check the Free option instead of leaving the default Pro option checked. I also unchecked all options other than the help file because I don’t like the bloat of extra context items in Explorer or extra browser helper objects.

    • This is a great solution. PDF Xchange viewer is awesome. Thank you!

  5. Great work, Thomas. Now I’d like to be able to edit the converted PDF form using fillable fields as I could on the website. Do you know of a conversion program that will permit that? Or would that be hoping for too much?

  6. Very nice work, thank you for the tips. In a pinch they were very helpful (for example after your printer gets infested with ants in the jungle and you have a thesis progress report due that day).

  7. Hey there…I have an even more simple solution. Simply download and install “CutePDF Writer” print driver at so it shows up in your printer options. Then to save the updated PDF sheet…just select print and then select “CutePDF Writer” in your printer name list. This will prompt you to save the updated PDF directly in the PDF format. Then goto to the UPS store and print yourself I do since my printer is always on the fritz. By the way you can use this print driver to save any document to PDF (ie MS-Project). Have fun. Adam

  8. I did as you instructed but instead of the Save dialogue coming up, the print control button came up: when I tried to hit it there was only the sound of a ping and there was no control on the page at all, I could not even x out. I had to go to Ctrl Alt delete then start task manager and then delete the form. Any answer to that one?

  9. You sir are brilliant! The landlord and tenant forms I am forced to use in my law practice are all non savable, until now!

  10. @Thomas [email protected] I’m with Thomas on this one. Especially because there’s no privacy policy, terms of service, or any other real indication of who actually runs the site, you don’t know if you can trust that your form isn’t sitting on their servers forever. And because there is no https version of the website, your data can be intercepted in transit. You should easily skip this solution for sensitive data.

  11. @whiplash808 Honestly, I can’t be certain about that question. My recommendation would be that you not upload something with your social security number or other sensitive information to ANY site unless you need to. If you need to fill out a form that needs information like that, you should make sure beforehand that there is a printer available.

  12. what about privacy and scurity? lets say I’ve entered vital information such as credit card numbers, SSN, addresses or a resume, etc…when its time to upload it in the website …can someone see it?

  13. You could also “Print to PDF.” On a Mac, it’s in the print dialog’s lower left-hand corner (the button’s labelled “PDF”). On Windows, you can use software such as PDFCreator at (this one has a bonus feature: it’s open source!).

  14. Hi there,

    A very useful post this one! I have been hit with this problem more than once. Will bookmark and spread the word. Thanks a bunch!!!

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