How to flatten a PDF form

You’ve got yourself a PDF form. You’ve completed the form. Now you need to pass the form on, but without the form. Just the plain PDF. Adobe Acrobat won’t let you. Preview can’t read the file. The result is this sort of thing.

Under most circumstances, when need to produce a flat PDF file, you can go to “Print”, and then bottom left, use “PDF”, “Save as PDF…”. Except Adobe won’t let you (see screenshot above), telling you saving a PDF file when printing is not supported. Their totally useless advice is to choose File – Save.

Fortunately, there is a simple, cheap solution. Install a virtual printer that produces PDF files. Just like “Save as PDF”. Just by another name as a proper device so Acrobat doesn’t realize what’s going on.

Thanks to the efforts of Adam Knight who prepared the CUPS-PDF package for Mac OS X, there is just such a thing. The project is being maintained on bitbucket, but should that link ever go stale, then there’s a link to the version I used below.

Simply install the CUPS-PDF virtual printer and then you can use it like any other printer. See the full instructions for the install here. After that, print as you normally would.