Amazingly the Real Estate industry has done well in shifting from paper files filling room after room, to PDFs filling our inbox. I’ve been using PDFs as paper replacements for a very long time and it still amazes me how quirky the system can be.
Dan Moren details a huge problem that Mac users will encounter when they save a filled out PDF form from Preview. Essentially you need to “reprint” that PDF so that the fields stay filled when sending to Windows users, otherwise they see no information.
I personally run into that problem all the time. I’ve simplified my issues a bit by utilizing two tools:
- Keyboard Maestro
The free way to speed up “flattening” PDF files, so that Windows users can see the text you add, is to use this tip from David Sparks. Sparks walks you through adding a shortcut to your Mac so that you can simply hit CMD+P twice and get straight to the save printed PDF dialog. I extended that idea (and I think stole it from Patrick Rhone) by adding a new Keyboard Maestro macro.
The macro I created simply tells the system to press
CMD+P twice, whenever I type the keyboard shortcut
OPT+CMD+P. It doesn’t ever feel like a smooth solution, but it works very well.
There is another tool you can use: PDFpen or PDFpenPro. Both from Smile Software are great and robust replacements for Preview. What I like is that, as best I can tell, PDFpenPro flattens the information added to a PDF when you save it, yet keeps that information editable inside of PDFpenPro. This saves a step over Preview when sending to Windows users.
If you work with PDF files on your iOS device, PDFpen is a must have. Inside the iOS app there is an email file option — when clicked PDFpen asks if you want to send the file as an Annotated PDF, or a Printed PDF — the latter of which is the rasterized version that you want for sending to Windows users.
I still use Preview a lot on my Mac, but PDFpenPro is what I use when I need to fill out a form. Oh and PDFpenPro does a great job OCR-ing any PDf file you open.