How to fill in PDF forms

Reader Don Rock seeks a way to fill in PDF forms but looks to the wrong application for help. He writes:

Can Pages be used to recognize an imported PDF file such as a form in order to complete the form as you would with a typewriter? I have read that one can convert a file in Pages into a PDF format but can a PDF file be read by Pages?

Given the number of tax forms available as PDF files, this is a timely question. Regrettably, you’re sniffing up the wrong trail.

You can bring PDF files into Pages, but not in an editable form. If you create a new Pages document, select Insert -> Choose, and then navigate to the PDF, you’ll find that the PDF file appears within your document, but it’s a graphic rather than editable text.

The good news is that you have a couple of free options for filling in unprotected PDF forms. The first is Leopard’s Preview application. Just open a PDF form, click on a field, and a cursor appears, awaiting your input. After you’ve filled out the form, choose File -> Save As, and save your filled-out form.

The other option is Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader. As with Preview, Acrobat Reader lets you enter what you like in open fields (but, unlike Preview, it conveniently highlights editable fields in blue).

If you need more extensive PDF editing capabilities—adding text, images, and signatures; making corrections; merging, deleting, and reordering pages, for example—take a gander at SmileOnMyMac’s $50 PDFpen.

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