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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25 Comments on "Save “Un-Savable” Data Entered Into A PDF Form"

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Cyrus Guy

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.


Great. Thanks a lot!!


You. Are. A. Genius.

Thank you.


Thank you so so much


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.

Julio Garcia

You are a Legend! thanks for saving my morning.

laura young

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 ?

Les Ferch

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!

Gary Krupa

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?


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).

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