The Typewriter Tool (semi-new!)

Forms offer a standardized way to collect information, but very few folks take the time to create them properly using Acrobat form tools.

Have you ever received — via email or snail mail– a field-less form to fill in? What a pain it is to drag out an old-fashioned typewriter to do this. Then, you have to scan the form back in and email it. Yechh!

But, there’s hope!

With the Acrobat 7.05 update, Adobe introduced a new tool for users of both Acrobat Standard and Professional—the Typewriter tool.

Update: Enhanced Typewriter tool in Acrobat 9.
The Typewriter tool was enhanced in Acrobat 9 and allows you to set font, size and color.

Where is the Typewriter tool in Acrobat X?
Acrobat X also offers the Typewriter tool. You’ll find it in the Content Panel and it is labeled “Add or Edit Text Box”:

The Typewriter tool provides a simple solution for filling out forms that do not contain interactive form fields. You can type on top of any PDF document, even one you created from a scanner. This allows you to easily fill out paper forms on your computer and archive the results electronically, or send the completed form via email.

I showed this new feature at a paralegal conference not long ago and a lady came up after my talk and hugged me!

Read on to learn how to obtain and use the Typewriter tool.

Getting and Using the Typewriter Tool

The Typewriter tool is a “freebie” included with the 7.05 update (for Acrobat 7) and is built into Acrobat 8.

To get the 7.05 (or later) update, simply go to the Help menu and choose “Check for Updates Now”

To show the Typewriter tool, go to Tools–>Typewriter–>Show Typewriter Toolbar.


To add typed text to the document, click the Typewriter tool from the Acrobat toolbar and click anywhere in the document to begin typing. It’s that easy.


Controlling Appearance

You can control the appearance of the typewritten text. To do so, select the text with the cursor and go to the Typewriter toolbar. Here you can decrease or increase line spacing and decrease or increase the size of the text.


Switch to the Hand tool and hover over the text. You can now move the text to another location on your document.


Reader Enablement

Users of Acrobat 7.05 Professional can enable the Typewriter tool for users of the free Adobe Reader 7. This allows Reader users to add their own typewritten annotations on top of the PDF and save the changes.

To enable the Typewriter tool for Adobe Reader users, go to Tools>Typewriter and choose Enable Typewriter tool in Adobe Reader.

In Acrobat X, choose File>Save As> Reader Extended PDF

Next, give the document a name and save it to the location of your choice and send it on to your client or colleague via email.

The Adobe Reader user gets special treatment when they open the Reader-enabled file. The yellow document status area appears containing instructions and guidance for using the file.


The Reader user simply clicks on the Typewriter tool to add text to the document. The Reader can also save this document because the document itself has special capabilities once enabled to do so by Acrobat Professional.

Using the Typewriter tool is a great way to fill out paper forms and other documents that do not contain standard Acrobat form fields.

Can you change the font used by the Typewriter Tool?

Unfortunately, not in Acrobat 7 or 8. In Acrobat 9 and up, no problem!

8 Responses to The Typewriter Tool (semi-new!)

  1. Ray Franklin says:

    There is no way to edit the color or size of the typewriter substitute in Adobe X. What a pain! All I get is one size type with only RED! What?
    — Rick’s Reply—
    Incorrect. The Typewriter tool has been renamed “Add or Edit Text Box” and it has all of the same capabilities as the previous version.

  2. Angela Woodbury says:

    Is there a way to add things like accent marks, short of creating the text in, say, a word document, and then copying and pasting? I occasionally need to comment on documents in Spanish and it would be nice to be able to type Spanish, with the accent marks, directly onto the pdf instead of having to do it in a separate Word document and then copying and pasting.
    — Rick’s Reply–

  3. I have the same issue as Rey Franklin. When I use the “Add or Edit Text Box” the font size/color bar does not appear? How can I bring this menu up? My collegues do have the size/color/font toorbar in Adobe X.

  4. kathy turner says:

    Is there a way to pin the typewriter tool to the menu bar in Adobe Pro X? I was able to do it in Ver. 9, but can’t seem to get it to stick in X.

    Also, how can I get the font to remain the same for every document – again, in Pro X — it changes and I have to keep putting it back to what font and size I need.

  5. MaryBeth Jennings says:

    I am using acrobat 9 and the typewriter toolbar is greyed out. Even when I select the text, the toolbar remains greyed out. Right now the font size is set at 22 and that’s way too big to use on anything. How can I get the toolbar un-greyed out so I can change the font and size?