How to Remove PDF/A Information from a file

NOTE: This older article only pertains to Acrobat X (10).

In Acrobat XI, it is simple to remove PDF/A information by simply clicking:


#### Original Article Below ####

As I mentioned in earlier articles, a PDF/A document is considered an archive that should not be changed.

Normally, Acrobat’s PDF/A View mode appears when you open a PDF/A document and making edits to the document is not possible:

PDF/A View mode screen shot

Sometimes, however, you may need to revise a document before filing. For example, you might create a PDF/A document from Microsoft Word then insert some scanned pages.

In this case, it makes sense to remove the PDF/A information, make your edits, then conform the file using Save As.

In this article you’ll learn how to:

  • Remove PDF/A using Preflight
  • Use my free Remove PDFa Information Action

Removing PDF/A Information

The best way to remove PDF/A information is to use Preflight in Acrobat Pro. Here’s how:

  1. Open a PDF document
  2. In Acrobat 9 Pro:
    Choose Advanced> Print Production> PreflightIn Acrobat X Pro:
    A) Click the Options button to show the Print Production panel if it is not already open
    B) Open the Print Production panel and click PreflightFinding Preflight in Acrobat's Print Production panel
  3. The Preflight window appears.
    A) Twirl open the PDF/A compliance section
    B) Select Remove PDF/A Information from the list
    C) Click Analyze and Fix
    Seting the options in the Preflight panel to remove PDF/A information

Using an an Acrobat X Action to Remove PDF/A Information

Acrobat X Actions can automate many tasks such as removing PDF/A information from a document.

Just about all of the Preflight functions are available via Actions including the profiles associates with PDF/A.

I’ve created the “Remove PDFa Informaiton” Action for you. Dowload it below . . .

Remove PDFa Information Action (106K PDF)

The PDF contains the Action itself along with installation instructions.

Running the Remove PDFa Information Action

Once you install the Action, it will appear at the top of your Action Wizard panel. Just click on the action name to run it.
Actions Wizard panel showing the newly imported Action

If you have a document open, the Action will prompt you for a file location and to name the file.

If you do not have a file open, the Action will allow you to select files or a folder of files and run the Action on all of the files.

60 Responses to How to Remove PDF/A Information from a file

  1. Piercarlo says:

    Can I remove the PDFa information with an Acrobat X STANDARD version?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      The only way Acrobat Standard can conform a file is by printing to the Adobe PDF Print driver. You’ll lose bookmarks and links that way, though.

      • Rodrigo says:

        Using the print driver in Acrobat X Standard to save a PDF/A file as “standard” or “high quality” did not remove the PDF/A information. When I opened the test file thus created, I still got the message that the file complies with PDF/A, and I still can’t add comments or sticky notes to it. Can you provide details of how to remove this accursed PDF/A data in Acrobat X Standard?

        • Rick Borstein says:

          This works properly for me.

        • Tonda says:

          Hey, try this: Within your doc, go to File > Print > choose Adobe PDF as the printer > rename the file (I just appended a 1 to mine) . This created a copy to which I can highlight and add notes. I am using Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro. Hope this helps!

          • Tonda says:

            BTW, you WILL lose the bookmarks and ToC.

          • Rick Borstein says:

            I did not lose bookmarks or TOC in my testing following the instructions in the post.

          • Rick Borstein says:

            Well, that’s one technique called “refrying”. When you do that, you will lose bookmarks, links, etc.

        • ISA says:

          I had the same problem but it was solved just closing and opening the file again. Hope works for you

    • sam says:

      Thanks a lot. it helped me much.

    • André Berntsen says:

      Select the pulldown menu:

      edit \ preferences \ (categories) documents \ PDF / A View Mode \ view documents in PDF / A mode \ choose “never”.

      …it will do the trick. The function can then be turned on again after editing.


  2. Desiree says:

    This is the exact information I was looking for, I just wishi it was easier to find. Searched for almost an hour before I came across this information!

    There really needs to be more information/resources posted on the Internet for Acrobat X.

    —- Rick’s Reply —-
    Well, you found it here!

  3. Kymberli Drummond says:

    Perfect! Took me about 20 minutes of searching before I came across this but it is exactly what I needed and worked beautifully…thank you!

  4. Lydia Soliz says:

    Here is a quick and fast wasy of removing PDF/A without losing anything.
    Open Acrobat and go to “Combine Files into a Single Pdf” when that window is open, click and drag your “PDF/A file”, it will convert it to a regular pdf — if you have it with bookmarks it will keep them.

  5. Dawn says:

    Thanks for the help. I came across a typo in Instruction #3 above.

    “B) Select Remvoe”

  6. B Peters says:

    The Combine Files method worked perfectly for me, and I did not need to combine w/ any other file. I am using Adobe Acrobat 9 Standard.

  7. Charlie Brown says:

    “Unterminated string” is the message I got with the Preflight. When using “Combine Files” I got the following message “No PDF file was created because Acrobat encountered an unidentified error”. The file in question has the above blue message: “The file you have opened complies with the PDF/A Standard and has been opened read-only to prevent modification”. Before the last update I haven’t had problems removing the PDF/A. Any idea or suggestion?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      I’ve not seen that message before and I wonder if something else is amiss with that file. I’ve successfully combined PDF/A and non-PDF/A files before without errors, so I don’t know what could be the issue.

  8. Kelly says:

    Combine Files worked just fine for me also – didn’t combine with any other file, just opened combine, added the pdf/a file and then save as. Also using Acrobat 9 Standard. Great resource site – thanks.

  9. Any way to make this availible in Pro 9.0 instead of X? Our state agency is about three years behind in updating.

  10. Emmy says:

    In Adobe Reader X the solution is very simple. I have different language settings but the shortcut should be something like this:

    Edit -> Settings
    In the “Document” category there should be an option available to set “Show document in PDF/A mode” to “never”. After a restart of Adobe, this will enable commenting and highliting in all documents.

    Hope this resolves the issue!

    • Michael Doyle says:

      Thank you so much! The ones proposed in the article either did nothing or came up with a permissions error (it’s a form I downloaded from another site), but this did the trick! Now I can Fill the form and Save it!

    • geoff says:

      You could also try to Extract Pages – just select all the pages!

      • Rick Borstein says:

        Yes, you can extract pages from a PDF/A file. Note, in Acrobat XI you can simply hit the Enable Editing button in the status bar.

  11. Matt Pilatzke says:

    Is there any way to do the same thing in Acrobat Pro 8.0

  12. JK says:

    The instructions helped remove the PDF/A from a file and I was able to make edits as needed. However, now that I need to resave the revised file as a PDF/A, I am no longer able to do so. Please help!

  13. Leslie says:

    I can’t open/import the Action. I get a message that says it’s either not a supported file type or has been damaged.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Some things to check . . . First, you’ll need to be on Acrobat X to use it. Secondly, it could have gotten corrupted, so try downloading it again.

  14. Suzanne says:

    Thanks Rick. You are a lifesaver!

  15. Darrick says:

    Downloaded the file but it says it’s not supported or has been damaged. Tried to repair the file but still can’t open it. Have Acrobat X. Tried downloading it again, still can’t open it.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Please open the PDF in Acrobat and follow the instructions. You have to extract the .sequ file from the document. The file is valid and works.

  16. Mary Kay says:

    I just installed Acrobat Pro 9 to save pdf’ as pdf/A compliant. Bookmarks are there when saved to .ps as instructed. However, when saving as pdf/A compliant – bookmarks are lost every time and are disabled – can’t even be added manually. Help?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      When you print a document to the PDF Print driver, all bookmarks will be lost. PDF/A conversion can be really tricky. In order for it to succeed with no loss of bookmarks, then your source PDF has to be pretty darn close to PDF/A already will fonts embedded and correctly encoded. You should use the Preflight command in Acrobat 9. Acrobat XI makes this process a lot easier.

  17. André Berntsen says:

    If … you need to go back to the PFA / mode …
    instead of “never” … select from the same place … “Only for PDF / A documents” … and you return to the previous mode …

  18. Mathilde says:

    This was really helpful! Thanks so much!

  19. Rey says:

    Excellent!! This worked for me! I was able to extract and delete the pages after completing the steps outlined.

  20. Paolo says:

    How can I do this with DDX?!

  21. Ashraf says:

    Thanks a lot, it works great.
    You are the one :))

  22. Sadie says:

    Excellent instructions for both methods. Worked a treat! Thanks for that.

  23. Naz Huda says:

    Great tips!! Thanks a bunch Rick.

  24. JonasJB says:

    Worked like a charm