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Edit Read-Only PDFs for Free

Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 @ 02:31:51 PM CDT by David Yee [] [read 5128 times]
 
Tips: Windows-world
I wanted to edit a PDF file which was an order form that came via email. I didn't, however, want to bother with printing out the form, then scanning and then emailing it back. I don't have Adobe Acrobat Pro, so I looked around for a free solution. Besides, digitally filling out the PDF looked more professional and legible. I saw some free online-only, "cloud" based solutions where you can upload the PDF and then edit it over the web, but this particular order form needed my credit card number and other personal info, so I didn't feel like doing it this way, despite the services claiming complete security. Who knows if the form would be stored/cached on the remote server, etc. So I found an Open Source free program called, appropriately, PDF Edit, which works for Windows 8.1. I went ahead and downloaded the newest version, which had the file name of pdfedit-20140526_1531.msi. The install went without a hitch, though it didn't create a new program group nor place any icon under the Start Menu. So I manually located it and launched the program from Explorer. Interestingly the title of the Window showed TIAEditor v1.28 instead of PDFEdit, but no big deal.


The file open dialog box was pretty rudimentary, and scanning folders with many files took much longer than it should have, but I was able to browse and open the order form PDF I wanted to fill out.



The problem was, however, when I tried to add a text field, I got the error message:

ReadOnly pdf

Pdf cannot be changed

Doh. I tried looking going to File, and then Document Info to see if there was anything I could do to make it not read-only, but it just displayed a super-wide window containing the source code of sorts for the document.

So I:

  1. Re-opened the PDF using SumatraPDF (the free and lightweight PDF reader that I use)
  2. Clicked the Printer icon, and [b]selected CutePDF Writer[/b], and basically exported the original read-only/encrypted PDF file into a new one that I can now edit.
  3. If you don't have the excellent (and free) CutePDF Writer printer software, you can downloaded it here.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to name your new PDF file differently to avoid confusion and to not accidentally overwrite your original PDF file just in case.

Now, going back to PDFEdit, I opened the newly created copy of the PDF generated by CutePDF, and voila, it was no longer read-only. The software is a bit of a pain in terms of not being able to move text you added, do multi-line text, etc., but it did the job. I was even able to insert an image containing my signature. Saved the file, took a look in the Sumatra PDF Reader, and it turned out nicely.

I did have an issue with sending the PDF via email. I complained to the company and they said that sorry they didn't have a PayPal account, but they never had any problems regarding customer's CC getting stolen, etc. Thankfully, however, my credit card supports Virtual Account Number (VAN), so I created one and used it in the order form, and all is well.



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Edit Read Only PDFs For Free Rating: 2.1/5 (34 votes cast)

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