By Scott Trudeau


May 5, 2008

For some reason, educational institutions don’t like to take the time to run Form Field recognition before publishing PDF forms. Adobe Reader users will not be able to digitally fill out the form unless the form has had the fields added in Acrobat. Using the Form Field Recognition tool is ridiculously easy (Forms > Form Field Recognition).
If you don’t take the time to run FFR, at least activate the Typewriter tool for your Acrobat Reader users (Full-blown Acrobat users can activate the Typewriter tool anytime). The Typewriter tool allows text to be typed anywhere on a document.
To activate the Typewriter Tool for Acrobat Reader users:
1. Open Adobe Acrobat 8
2. Click Tools > Typewriter > Enable Typewriter Tool in Adobe Reader
Useless bit of information – The longest word that can be typed using only the top row of alphanumeric keys is “typewriter.” (I know your testing it out…now get back to work!)


  • By keith - 2:29 PM on May 5, 2008  

    Maybe I’ll take a look for that. Hate when you can’t type in a form. Then have to figure out others ways to do it – like opening it up in AI or PS.

    • By teddy - 2:40 PM on August 4, 2010  

      did you ever figure out how to type and populate a pdf form? the directions above talke about acrobat 8. i have acrobat 9 so it should work, but when i go to tools, the choice is customize toolbar. i go there and select, typewriter toolbar (at the bottom in windows 7),
      i check it and it still dosen’t work. i need to be able to populate pdf forms, any ideas.
      thanks, teddy

  • By Alex - 2:29 PM on May 23, 2008  

    Not true. With the top row you can write:
    towerpower (haha!)
    All with only the first row:
    pete i require tower power you trippy wet peer i rip your tit out.

  • By Hartle Hubbard - 5:15 PM on May 30, 2008  

    I downloaded a PDF form frequently used by genealogist to record family information.
    It is titled Family Record Form.pdf.
    I cannot tell if it is interactive, because I have not been able to fill out any fields on my computer using Adobe Reader 8.012.
    The document appears with all the fields. When I move my cursor to the field for input,
    The cursor is an I beam. I start typing and nothing happens, the cursor remains in place and does not move.
    I can move the cursor to another field but again nothing happens when I begin to type.
    Is my entire form a paper only completion?
    Typewriter Input – I cannot check off typewriter input until I “Enable Document Rights”.
    I cannot find the instruction for enableing document rights.
    I tried 3 times to convert it to a pdf form on Acrobat, but it failed each time. Probably because it was already a pdf form.
    My computer is a Gateway, Pentium R 4 CPU,1.5 GHZ, 1.0 GB of RAM. Total virtual memory 1.96 GB. Total physical memory 463.18 MB. OS Windows XP.
    The instruction on this blog does not mention how to enable document rights.

    • By teddy - 2:44 PM on August 4, 2010  

      did you ever solve this problem? i have the same situation and iam looking for help.
      i am using adobe 9 in windows 2007. help please.

  • By Erin - 4:15 PM on June 16, 2008  

    I have Vista installed. Adobe 8 came with it. I know it sounds crazy, but my typewriter tool is missing…I cannot enable it on documents or use it! I have looked online for help and cannot find it. Please help!

  • By mollie - 3:19 PM on June 19, 2008  

    please! help me to be albe to type on my documet. I have the button for the typwriter theres a star sigh* next to it. what can i do to get it working.

    • By teddy - 2:46 PM on August 4, 2010  

      did you ever get this resolved ? i have the same problem and need help also.

  • By Nature - 10:55 AM on July 6, 2008  

    A month ago my typewriter worked on my .pdf’s and now they don’t. I have two computers and the newer one I downloaded the latest Adobe Reader version – it doesn’t work – and the old computer version 7 doesn’t work either! Maybe it is the source document from the educational organization? i tired a pdf from another source and same problem as described by the other posts here.

  • By mariel - 6:09 PM on July 19, 2008  

    Yes, please! Will someone answer the above questions. I’ve had the exact same problem and haven’t solved it in a year’s time. HELP!! Why can I not fill in the forms?!

  • By rebecca - 5:32 AM on September 10, 2008  

    I have our company letterhead
    emailed to me as pdf. I need
    to use it to type quotations that we email to customers
    How do I go about that as I’m stuck.
    I had acrobat adobe 8 and I had to update to version 9
    thinking that it will help

  • By B Segrest - 6:57 AM on October 1, 2008
    Instructions to enable user rights (to use typewriter in Adobe).

  • By Marketa Jetton - 7:18 AM on February 5, 2009  

    I have the same question as Nature and Mariel. I had an older version 7 now i have 9 and my typewriter doesn’t work now. HELP

  • By Cathy - 1:33 PM on February 10, 2010  

    I am trying to “enable document rights” so that I can get the I beam tool and type text into a form field. I have adobe reader 9.

  • By Scott Trudeau - 8:47 AM on February 15, 2010  

    Hi, you must have Adobe Acrobat (not the Adobe Reader) to enable document rights.

  • By Nellie Nobody - 12:44 PM on February 17, 2010  

    When restoring my malfunctioning laptop, our desktop support folks “upgraded” my Acrobat 8 Professional license to Acrobat 9 Standard. Now I don’t see the option to enable the typewriter tool for Adobe Reader under Tools > Typewriter. Does this not exist in Standard?

  • By Scott Trudeau - 12:53 PM on February 17, 2010  

    Enabling the Typewriter Tool for Adobe Reader requires Acrobat Pro or Acrobat Pro Extended.

    • By Leandra - 5:29 PM on June 20, 2011  

      I have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Pro & upgraded online to version 10.1.0. I do not have a typewriter option on any of the menus & most of my add-ins are not installed/available. How do I fix this (spent hours today reading blogs on the PDF website!)

  • By Ed McGrath - 6:48 AM on March 12, 2010  

    To help your users, you can go one step further. I put a typewriter Icon on the page. The user can click it to open typwriter menu (rights must be extended).
    The typewriter button appears on the page but does not print. To do this:
    In Adobe Acrobat: View — Toolbars — Forms
    Select the OK button and drag it to you page.
    Set the following properties:
    General Tab: Name = Typewriter, Form Field “Visible but does not print”
    Appearance Tab: No Border, No Fill
    Options Tab: Icon Only, Choose Icon (you need to have a typewriter picture file;gif, png, jpg, clipart, etc) Assign the icon to the button
    Actions Tab: Select Trigger “Mouse Up”, Execute a Menu Item (click Add) from the dropdown menu select View > Toolbars > Typewriter.
    Click Close to save. You can resize and move the button on the page, it will not appear in Print Preview or on printed form.

  • By Scott Trudeau - 7:25 AM on March 12, 2010  

    Great tip. Thanks!

  • By tkd - 10:28 PM on July 11, 2010  

    seems so simple yet i cannot find a way to “enable document rights”. this page doesn’t help either??

  • By mdw - 2:39 PM on July 13, 2010  

    I’ve created a simple form from an existing pdf containing text fields. I can type/fill in all fields, but when I try to print no fields are visible. I went to the Form Field Recognition Tool, but it’s greyed out. Can anyone help?

  • By Kimberly H - 3:39 PM on July 30, 2010  

    I am not able to type on a form that was e-mailed to me in pdf form. I have tried downloading it to Acrobat 9, which is what my system has. It will download and I can bring it up but I can’t fill it out. I am very frustrated. I’ve been working on it for 2 days now. I can’t find anything in the toolbar or elsewhere that will enable my to type. When I go to, which is also downloaded on my system it asks me to pick a file to download to. When I choose that option it take me back to where I was just at. I’m sure it’s all me but I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Help!!

  • By Paul Henry - 6:25 AM on August 17, 2010  

    When I open a document in Acrobat Pro version 8.0 and enable the typewriter tool for some reason I can click and type, when I click off of it I cannot continue to use it, I must select the typewriter tool again. This can be very tedious when I have many fields to fill out. How can I get the typewriter tool to lock so that I can type without having to go back and choose it in every field?


  • By ACP - 7:42 PM on September 8, 2010  

    I’m having a similar problem to Kimberly H. (7/30/1010)… I purchased a planner in .pdf format. The rights have been enabled and the person who created the document says that all areas of the document can be filled in, saved and printed. NOT! When asked again, she said to click the typewriter toolbar within the Tools menu to activate it. This doesn’t work! I’ve got no Typewriter Tool Bar, of Typewriter Tool icon anywhere. It can’t be enabled clicking within the Tools menu. I get the cursor change from an arrow to an I bar, but only on titles and headings, can’t change them either, and cannot type anywhere within the document. If this helps, within the Document >Security menu, it says that it can be opened with all versions of Acrobat. Also that Printing and filling of forms fields is allowed. Do I have to have a purchased version of Acrobat to use this one tool?? If yes, I want to know so I can notify the document creator. Please advise…

  • By Paul Benoist - 3:01 PM on September 16, 2010  

    cannot find typewriter tool under Tools. Where is it?

  • By Linda F. - 8:23 PM on September 20, 2010  

    Seriously, ADOBE. FIX THIS!!!!

    There are posts in all the forums, too numerous to count, that call out this issue… 2 years running. TYPEWRITER does not function properly. Fixes of all stripes (including registry edits) work briefly but revert quickly to bug state. the pro versions of (all) Adobe software are aimed at sophisticated users who pay some of the highest software prices for broadly distributed, non-custom software. Please pay attention and fix bugs.

  • By Debbie - 2:07 PM on October 13, 2010  

    You know it takes me hours to work with ADOBE.. The typewriter tool is no where to be found. It took me forever just to insert a graphic file… ! This is crazy, I wish Adobe was like word. I get so tired of pdf files, and the wait time for them to load…

  • By Jessica Joyner - 1:55 AM on November 3, 2010  

    Same issue as Paul Henry………”When I open a document in Acrobat Pro version 8.0 and enable the typewriter tool for some reason I can click and type, when I click off of it I cannot continue to use it, I must select the typewriter tool again. This can be very tedious when I have many fields to fill out. How can I get the typewriter tool to lock so that I can type without having to go back and choose it in every field?”

    Does Adobe support read and reply to these posts?

  • By Bob - 11:53 PM on November 7, 2010  

    I have Adobe Acrobat Standard 7 and under tools there is no typewriter tool bar, I have it on one computer but not the other

  • By Christy - 8:41 PM on November 8, 2010  

    Adobe should be more specific in ‘Help’, rather than allowing their users to waste their time in hopes that there might be an easier way to fill out job applications than printing them out and penning them. I only have Reader and went through hoops before coming to dead ends trying to work with the typewriter tool, which is apparently unavailable to me, since not all form Creators know what they’re doing.
    If anyone knows of a ‘fix’, please let us know… Thanks.

  • By Charles Beitzell - 3:59 PM on December 1, 2010  

    When the typewriter is greyed out, try going in to the Edit > Preference > Documents > PDF/A View Mode. Change to “Never” This is for Acrobat Pro 9, not sure if it is the same on 8.

    • By Maria - 10:52 PM on October 21, 2011  

      THANK YOU A MILLION!! I’ve read every blog, suggestion and information that I could find on the internet regarding my “typewriter tool being greyed out.” This was the only suggestion that really worked. I really appreciate your help. This is so important in my line of work. (Kisses!) Thanks again.

  • By Linda Williams - 9:59 PM on January 18, 2011  

    If I have adobe 7 added to my computer, will I be able to download adobe 8 reader to get the typewrite function added?

  • By snobunny - 7:42 PM on March 10, 2011  

    I just built a new computer and have Adobe Reader X. Is there any way I can access typewriter?

    • By Robyn Baldwin - 6:23 PM on April 14, 2011  

      I always use the typewriting tool and when I got Adobe X, it was not readily accessible. I did find out how. On the main tool bar, there is a icon that looks like a “gear.” when the cursor hovers over it, it says “customize quick tool.” Click on that and you will get a new box. In that box is a heading “Tools” under that “content”. Click on content and then click on the typewriter “add or edit text box.” Then move it to the right column which will then add it to your main tool bar in adobe. This functions just as the typewriter tool. This is great, because you can change the font and the text size.

      • By Jonah - 1:47 PM on May 17, 2011  

        I have Adobe Reader X and I don’t see a “gear” icon on the main tool bar.

  • By James Holland - 5:33 PM on May 23, 2011  

    I have been using Adobe Acrobat since Version 3.0. now I am have Adobe Acrobat 9 PRO EXTENDED Version 9.4.4.
    I keep it up-to-date and I use it more than I use MS-Office. I have taken the HP Learning Center Course – Creating PDFs with Adobe Acrobat, amongst other courses that HP Offers. I recommend that ANYONE who uses a computer that has “SOFTWARE ON IT” start making it a habit of taking these Courses offered by Hewlett-Packard; they are FREE! i ENDED UP BEING THE moderator OF THE HP Learning Centers’ – Creating PDFs with Adobe Acrobat, because at the time the course centered around Acrobat 7 and the Professor had Acrobat 6 and he did not have an inkling of an idea what Acrobat 7 was like. They were very big changes between the two versions. He was lost before he started. I took it over for him. I already knew how to create PDFs, I just learned MORE nifty stuff… And you will also –
    One of those were how to use the TYPEWRITER TOOL
    How to activate Typewriter Document rights:
    1. Open Adobe Acrobat 9
    2. Click Tools on the MENU BAR> DROP DOWN
    3. Typewriter > DROP DOWN
    4. >Enable Typewriter Tool in Adobe Reader <
    (A PURPLE TOOL/TASK BAR WILL BE ENABLED LIKE MAGIC and the document is now Reader 9 Typewriter Ready. On Reader 9, your recipient will be able to activate his/her Typewriter Toolbar, which is only available when Document rights are enabled.)

    Learning center – sign in management
    Free, online classes, available 24/7:
    Hewlett-Packard HP Learning Center

  • By alan kehr - 4:15 PM on May 24, 2011  

    How do I disable Typewriter? Now I can’t do OCR on those forms.

  • By Leandra - 5:27 PM on June 20, 2011  

    I have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat & upgraded online to version 10.1.0. I do not have a typewriter option on any of the menus & most of my add-ins are not installed/available. How do I fix this (spent hours today reading blogs on the PDF website!)

  • By Tired - 5:32 PM on June 22, 2011  

    What is the point of creating PDF forms that can’t be filled out? Nobody owns a typewriter these days. Forms look messy done by hand. I’m fed up PDF hassles. We shouldn’t have to download freeware just to fill out a form. You can recreate forms in Word faster than trying to find freware to fix the problem.

  • By Nora - 7:21 PM on August 26, 2011  

    I’ve tried the steps outlined in James Holland’s post, but when I click on Tools, then on Typewriter Tools, the drop down does not have “Enable Typewriter Tool in Adobe Acrobat.” I used to be able to do this easily in Acrobat 8. Leave it to Adobe to “improve” something thatg was already good.

  • By Lisa - 1:15 PM on September 14, 2011  

    Just installed Professional X. I can’t find the Enable Typewriter Tool in Reader. I know I can use the typewriter tool myself in Pro, but I need to make pdfs editable for people in the field who don’t. Anyone know where this is stashed now?

  • By Cathy West - 2:05 AM on November 22, 2011  

    It would be great to add a typewriter to either Pro X or Reader 9, and even has the toolbar drop down, but of course that isn’t going to give you a typewriter. …

    Adobe is never, never straightforward. Way on earth would you want to insert alphanumeric into a form the software is suppose to be invented to allow??? answer: Only typewrite after 30 min of looking, then good luck because Adobe can’t manage like alphanumeric in its software.

    1) There is no “enable typewriter” at the tools bar in Reader 9. And no apparent location to find an enable. Just an * telling you you can’t have the typewriter!!

    2) In Pro X, forget it! Typewriter is lost forever and ever and ever. Scanned my form , saved it; and then wanted to fill-in the form using the tools — typewriter. No you can’t have the typewriter says the software machine:-(

    Thanks anyway, disgruntled Cathy

  • By Dave - 10:13 PM on February 22, 2012  

    Everything I type with the typewriter tool looks fine until I click off the type field. Then it seems to disappear. If I click on the field again, the words are there. It seems like a font color issue or opacity issue, but I cannot find a way, or help information to change opacity. I have tried changing the font color. Same issue occurs regardless of color. The words do not appear when I print either. Save/close/reopen, the issue remains the same.

    This was not a problem a month ago when I used this feature last. I am using Acrobat Pro.

    • By Katee - 12:56 PM on April 18, 2012  

      Did you ever get an answer to the item about changes not showing up when you print? I put in a text box and typed the required changes. But even though it shows in a print preview, it does not show when it is printed.

      • By Andrea Woodman - 8:08 PM on August 22, 2013  

        I’m having the same problem!!! I see the text that I typed, but when I go to print, it’s blank. Also, when I use my typewriter, the font is magenta. The only way I can change the color is if I use a text box to type inside of that. Any suggestions?

  • By Amy - 3:32 PM on March 21, 2012  

    How do I “turn off” typewriter tool when I am not using it?

    • By dean.rusk - 12:59 PM on May 2, 2012  

      The only way I’ve been able to is to close the file (saving any desired changes) and reopen.

  • By shawn - 2:58 AM on August 21, 2012  

    How about a better idea…give Adobe Reader the typewriter tool so they can use it themselves, without it needing to be enabled by a document creator?

    • By Luan - 2:31 PM on December 19, 2012  

      There is a competitive solution out there, big name too that allows you to write on any PDF documents. After that the PDF can be written on with the typewriter tool with just Acrobat Reader.

      So essentially Adobe does not allow Typewriter tool in Acrobat Reader to sell Acrobat. But why should I buy acrobat if I can use the competitive solution for free?