Flatten Form Fields and Comment using a FREE Acrobat X Action

Flattening is the process of moving editable information— form field data and comments— into the main document layer so that it cannot be edited or changed.

At left, below is an illustration of editable form and comments elements. After flattening (right), the appearance of the elements remains, but they are no lonager editable.

Flattening Illustration

Many folks simply print the document to the Adobe PDF print driver to flatten a document. However, that process takes several steps and eliminates bookmarks and other information.

Why would I need to Flatten a document?

Here are a few reasons that you might want to flatten a document:

  • To ensure that comments are printed
  • To prevent someone from changing the text inside a PDF form
  • To lock your stamp on the document

To make the flattening process easier, you can use a FREE Acrobat X Action to flatten your document.

Acrobat X Flatten Action

The Acrobat X File Name Stamper Action automates the process of flattening the document. Just open your Actions Panel and click!

How do I get the Acrobat X Action?

You can get the  Action over on the Actions Exchange on AcrobatUsers.com,

Alternately, you can download it direct below.

The PDF document you download below includes:

  1. Installation and use instructions
  2. Action (embedded in the PDF)

Enjoy!

Flatten_Doc.pdf (753K)

Hint:

Right-click and Choose Save Target As . . . to save to your desktop

You will need Acrobat X Pro to run the Action

32 Responses to Flatten Form Fields and Comment using a FREE Acrobat X Action

  1. Jay Fresno says:

    Is there a way to flatten just some of the form fields rather than all form fields?
    — Rick’s Reply —
    Not that I know of.

  2. Brad Fox says:

    Hi Tried loading the Flatten Fields and Comments.sequ action but I am getting an error saying that the file is corrupt or not compatible with my version of Acrobat. I am currently running Acrobat X Standard. Do I need Pro?
    Thanks.

  3. david look says:

    how do i embed this in a form action button?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      The code used by the Action is:

      event.target.flattenPages();

      I tried embedding that in a button and wasn’t able to get it to work, so it may not be possible.

  4. Stephen Kyle says:

    Tried several times. Form remains editable.
    Am using Acrobat Pro x for PC.

  5. Joshua Furman says:

    I think I know the answer to this question, but any solution for flattening LiveCycle forms on Mac? Running Lion and Acrobat X Pro–and wouldn’t you know it, the Ninth Circuit uses LiveCycle.

  6. Jim Schuweiler says:

    As for Stephen Kyle, the document is still editable, but the commments that were on it when you flattened will not be.

    I understand that this documentation is only for Acrobat X Pro, but on to my question, is there a way to flatten a document in Acrobat X Standard with out having to reprint the document as a pdf?

    Our last version was Acrobat 6.0 and that had a nice little add-in that did it. We just purchased 18 copies of Acrobat X Standard so we could mark up submittals in house and send them on and now we find out we can not flatten our commments – very, very frustrating and a waste of money!!!!

  7. Jonathan says:

    This script works perfectly with our PDF forms – until signature fields are filled.

    The JS console reveals that the script causes….
    “NotAllowedError: Security settings prevent access to this property or method.”

    We have been using similar JS to flatten PDF’s prior to version X without a problem.

    Interestingly, all previous scripts experience the same problem. They all work fine with filled signature fields in versions 8 and 9, but fail in version X (with the same console message as above).

    Our Acrobat security and JS prefs appear to be the same in versions 8, 9 and X.

    Just wondering if I’m missing something obvious that’s causing this?

    Any ideas?

    Thanks!

    • Rick Borstein says:

      I assume you mean Digital Signature fields. When I ran the Action on a digitally signed file, the Flatten action was ignored. Digital signatures do add a type of encryption to the document, so I think you would need to print to the PDF printer to flatten the document.

  8. Matt Fisher says:

    Rick:

    I have a somewhat off-topic question. I tried to download your “Add Navigation Buttons” action from the action exchange, but when I try to use it, Acrobat X Pro (Win7 Prof 64) tells me that the file is corrupt. Is there any other way to get the action?

    Best regards…

  9. Blanca says:

    Thatn you!!! Thank you!!! This worked perfectly, older fiels where printing wierd and missing text changing it with sqaures and this solved it!
    Thanks so much!
    B

  10. Natalia says:

    To upload the Flatten action using Acrobat X pro go to Tools –> Action Wizard –> Edit Actions –> Import (select it from where you saved it in your computer) and click close.
    It’ll automatically appear in your actions list.

    Try this because I tried to load the action the way the pdf describes and I got the same error advice.

    It worked just fine for me!

    • Rick Borstein says:

      In some cases, Acrobat is installed without associating the .sequ extension, so that is a good workaround.

  11. chris k says:

    Has anyone found a way to flatted specific fields w/ this app, as I need this for a business-sensitive document. Any help would be appreciated!

    • Rick Borstein says:

      That would be possible (I think) via a custom JavaScript. Ask the programmers at Windjack.com.

  12. I have Acrobat 9 Standard
    To get the end results of a flattened document, I print as a Adobe PDF file which creates a new file with comments flattened.
    It’s a hassle but works

  13. Rob says:

    Brilliant, Rick! Saved me hours. Thanks.

  14. Edward Still says:

    When I tried adding this Action to Acrobat XI Pro, I got an error message that I can import and run this Action item, but will not be able to take advantage of the new Action Wizard features in XI. Exactly what capabilities will I be giving up? The creation of all new Actions?

  15. Leslie Rawls says:

    I changed computers and when I reloaded Acrobat X Pro, I no longer had the Flatten Fields option. (Running Windows 7.) Searching the Internet, I keep finding this page but only in .pdf and the sequ file does not show. Could you please post a link to the page with the sequ file itself, not just this pdf?

  16. Dan Davis says:

    I installed it into Acrobat Pro XI and it doesn’t seem to flatten like it did in Pro X. All I am using it for is adding text using “Edit Text & Images” button to a scanned document. After running the flaten field action, the added text is not embedded in the document. It can still be moved around and deleted.

  17. Troy says:

    Tip – If you typically overwrite your file, edit the action to “Don’t save changes.” Then when you execute all you have to do is save the file normally. No more browsing to your file location to essentially “Save As” the same file.

  18. Beth Friedman says:

    Thanks much! I’ve been looking for something like this for quite a while. I do wish there were one-page option, like the Acrobat 9 script that I found first, but there are still a number of places where it’ll save me time.

  19. Walter J says:

    I use the “Run a JS” action with:
    this.flattenPages()
    this will flatten the entire document. Can be tied into a “Submit” button to flatten before e-mailing.