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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 this site 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!