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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Flattening A PDF

I downloaded a W-9 pdf file from the IRS (the form you provide to someone you contract to work for so they can let the IRS know how much they have paid you -- and can write it off as a business expense).

Nice, it is set up as a fillable form. So I typed everything in. Now to email the completed form. But, I don't want to send a form that can be edited. What I need to do is "flatten it" so it is no longer an editable form.

After trying the many steps Adobe requires to flatten the pdf, I realized the IRS locks the form so you cannot change it. I guess they want everyone to print the file and mail the form -- this must be to help out its sister organization, the USPS.

After a lot of experimentation and reading, I was ready to quit. Then I thought, "I'll take a screenshot!" Well, that didn't work so well due to screen size restrictions. The, I went to save the completed form and noticed under the Acrobat Edit menu a selection "Take a Snapshot." I tried it and realized it is a VERY simple method of flattening a pdf. Note that I know this works in Acrobat Pro X. Not sure about other versions (but it's worth a try).
  1. With the form open, click Edit > Take a Snapshot.
  2. Swipe the whole document page -- don't include anything outside that page.
  3. Click File > Create > PDF from Clipboard.
  4. Voila! A flattened version.
  5. For a single page, just save this file and email/store it/whatever!
  6. If there are more pages to the form, it's a bit more complicated, but still easier than most methods I read on the web.
  7. Take a snapshot of each page, creating a separate pdf for each page. 
  8. Save all the pdf's, I suggest using their page number as the file name.
  9. File > Create > Combine Files into a Single PDF ...
  10. Open the folder containing the pdf's of the pages.
  11. Drag them into the "Combine Files" window and arrange them in order (if they aren't already arranged).
  12. Save the pdf. It's flattened -- you can email/store it/whatever!
Hope this helps someone(s).

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