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How to Flatten a PDF in Adobe Acrobat and Alternatives

Melissa Lee updated on Oct 31, 2023 | Home > PDF Knowledge Center | min read

Flattening a PDF or making a PDF read-only means you make the entire document uneditable. Forms, images, and text fields are fixed. No one can edit it, and it's beneficial to print a PDF file. As there could be various layers in an unflattened PDF, making it read-only can lead to a single layer. Here, try the dedicated PDF editing software like Adobe Acrobat Pro DC and you learn how to flatten a PDF in Adobe with detailed steps. Also, an Adobe Acrobat alternative is introduced to you.

Workable Methods Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Method 1. Print Production in Adobe Click "File" > "Open" to import files. Find an option named "Print Production". In the "Flatten Preview" window... More details>>
Method 2. Flatten it with Adobe shortcut Use the Print shortcut (Ctrl + P) to get a flattened PDF in Adobe Acrobat. You need to choose the custom scale... More details>>
Flatten a PDF with Adobe Alternative After 7 days free trial in Adobe Acrobat, you can use this Windows PDF editing software to get a flattened PDF...More details>>

How to Flatten a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC - 2 Methods

There are two ways for finding the PDF flattening feature in Adobe, including using the editing tool (Print Production) and the shortcut keyboard (Crtl+P). Each method is useful for you to adjust the layouts and other options on a PDF. 

Method 1. Making a Flattened PDF in Print Production

It's beneficial if you need to print a flattened PDF as you lock the fillable items. Also, if you are using an editor to import a PDF, elements like forms can still be editable. One way to prevent it from being editable is by flattening a PDF. 

Flattening a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC on Windows 10:

Step 1. Open this tool and import your file by clicking "File" > "Open". Back to the Tools, and you scroll down the menu and look for one feature named "Print Production". Click it and then you will see a new window. 

adobe print production

Step 2. Now, you see the option "Flattener Preview" at the right side of the toolbar. Select this option and it shows the Flattener Preview window. To better print your PDF pages, you should apply those options in the flattener. 

It gives the options as follows:

  • Transparency flattener from low to high resolution and the Raster/Vector Balance
  • Flatten and adjust the transparency for a PDF page about the color space
  • Flattener-Generated images of the compression option

adobe print flatten preview

Step 3. Once you have finished the settings, remember to enable the number of pages in a PDF. From the left side of the window, choose one selection from all pages, current pages, or manually select the range. 

Step 4. Finally, you can click "Apply". At the same time, a dialog window shows, and you hit "Yes". Then, save your PDF.

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Method 2. Flattening a PDF File with a Shortcut - Quick Method

When you are in a hurry, use the Print shortcut (Ctrl + P) to flatten a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. It brings similar effects with the previous method. The transparency flattener preset is also involved. You are allowed to apply many custom settings when flattening a PDF. Below is a guide for you to turn a fillable PDF into a read-only version.

flattened pdf adobe

How to flatten a PDF in Adobe with Print Shortcut:

Step 1. Go "File" > "Open" to import your target PDF in Adobe. Then, in the viewing PDF, you use "Ctrl + P" to open the printer. 

Step 2. In the new window, select the Custom Scale in Page Sizing & Handling. Meanwhile, enable Auto in the orientation. 

Step 3. To apply more advanced settings to flatten a PDF, click "Advanced". Here you see the "Transparency Flattener Preset" option, changing the resolution from high to the low level. After that, hit "OK". 

Step 4. To save a flattened PDF on your computer, you find the "Printer" option and click it. Open the down lists and choose "Adobe PDF". Finally, click "Print" to finish it. Then a window "Save PDF File As" shows, and you can rename it and click "OK". 

Why Do You Need a Flattened PDF? 

Interactive properties like forms will not be fillable in a read-only PDF. That's why you require a flattened PDF. There could be some practical reasons to operate it. Firstly, it can protect the design and forms in a PDF. If you have a PDF form with editable fields, you need to remove fillable fields in PDF to flatten it to secure the data. Besides, in order to meet the requirement of some publishers, you need to upload a PDF file after flattening. Last but not least, for printing, if your PDF has many layers, it may not print as you desire, then you need to flatten it. Therefore, to make it, you need a dedicated PDF editor. 

Bonus Tips: How to Flatten a PDF With Adobe Alternative on Windows 10

Believe that you have known how to flatten a PDF in Adobe. As we know, Adobe has 7 days for trial. When the trial period expires, you have to pay a high fee. However, you can use the Adobe Acrobat alternative, EaseUS PDF Editor.

By using the inside printing options, this PDF Editing Software can also flatten a PDF, make the entire PDF file uneditable, and protect the design. Nobody can edit items in a flattened PDF. Also, as a dedicated PDF editor, it can convert, edit, and fill out your PDF pages in a few simple steps. You can download it and try these functions without registration. 

EaseUS PDF Editor

An alternative way of flattening a PDF on Windows PC:

Step 1. Launch EaseUS PDF Editor on your Windows PC, and click Open to import the PDF which you want to make it become inactive.

Import PDF

Step 2. Click Convert > Convert to Images to convert your PDF pages into images. Once done, the converted images will be saved to your computer.

Convert PDF to image

Step 3. Go back to the main interface of EaseUS PDF Editor again, and click Create > Create a blank file.

Create a blank file

Step 4. In the Edit mode, choose the Add Image option. Now, you need to insert all the pictures converted from the original PDF. Don't forget to ensure that those pictures are in the correct order.

Add images

Step 5. Finally, click on File > Save or Save As to obtain the inactive PDF.

Save edited PDF

About the Author

author Melissa Lee

Melissa Lee

Melissa is a sophisticated editor for EaseUS in tech blog writing. She is proficient in writing articles related to screen recording, voice changing, and PDF file editing. She also wrote blogs about data recovery, disk partitioning, and data backup, etc.

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