Most PDF files work perfectly well with my default document viewer Okular, but cannot open a PDF file with fillable field with any program other than Adobe Acrobat Reader (acroread).

Is there anyway to make Okular open, edit and save PDF documents with fillable forms?

  • possible duplicate? askubuntu.com/questions/32862/…
    – fossfreedom
    Jul 28, 2011 at 22:10
  • I've tried many other PDF programs (pdfedit, pdfmod, kword, xournal, envice, abiword) and nothing works... only Acrobat Reader seems to be able to open PDF fillable form files
    – 13east
    Jul 28, 2011 at 22:57
  • can you add a link to your question to an example PDF that Evince and others cannot deal with?
    – fossfreedom
    Jul 28, 2011 at 23:00
  • 1
    hmmm - that looks like its hard-coded to only work with adobe reader. Not much you can do about that.
    – fossfreedom
    Jul 28, 2011 at 23:15
  • 1
    Googling a bit shows that many people face the same problem. It must have something to do with the way it's coded. I guess you've probably found an alternative, but in any case, i stepped on this link www.ussaram.com/N-400.pdf which seems to provide a valid pdf with fillable forms (I don't know if it's valid/updated though).
    – Pavlos G.
    Aug 20, 2011 at 13:59

2 Answers 2


The answer as of now is No.

This file is encrypted and can only be opened with Acrobat Reader.

richard@ubuntu:~/Desktop$ pdfinfo n-400.pdf 
Title:          Appication for Naturalization
Author:         USCIS
Creator:        Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES 8.2
Producer:       Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES 8.2
CreationDate:   Thu Nov 15 16:21:11 2007
ModDate:        Tue Jun 21 11:36:34 2011
Tagged:         yes
Pages:          1
Encrypted:      yes (print:yes copy:no change:no addNotes:no)
Page size:      612 x 792 pts (letter)
File size:      110428 bytes
Optimized:      no
PDF version:    1.7

The only unencrypted element is the following text, found using pdftotext

richard@ubuntu:~/Desktop$ pdftotext n-400.pdf l.txt && cat l.txt 
To view the full contents of this document, you need a later version of the PDF viewer. You can upgrade
to the latest version of Adobe Reader from www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html
For further support, go to www.adobe.com/support/products/acrreader.html

There are lots of people affected by this.

My solution was to install acroread, fill in and print the form (the option to save wasn't available either for the form I was using), and then remove acroread.

  • This shows that this form is not a PDF form, but an XFA document (entries for Creator and Producer). XFA is the forms technology Adobe acquired some years ago with Accelio/Jetforms. It is essentially an XML-based forms format, which gets, in order to be usable with Adobe Acrobat/Reader in a PDF wrapper (this is "legal" according to ISO 32000). To display such a form, you will need a PDF viewer which understands XFA (which is at the moment Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader). If you want to blame someone, blame the forms owner to use proprietary technology.
    – Max Wyss
    Jul 5, 2014 at 4:32
  • Removing acroread is IMHO a rather dumb decision, because aside of the XFA forms, there are many smart forms out there for which the "other" PDF viewers are too dumb.
    – Max Wyss
    Jul 5, 2014 at 4:35

Fill it out with Okular or EVince then fix it up with PDFTK. Many steps but it works. This may also be a workaround for OS X Preview.app form filling.

okular form.pdf
pdftk form.pdf generate_fdf output form.fdf
pdftk form.pdf fill_form form.fdf output filledform.pdf
mv filledform.pdf form.pdf

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