Learn about 5 free, easy, and fast methods to flatten layers in a PDF document to create a flat PDF, step-by-step instructions are provided so you can easily follow.
The editability of PDF documents is granted by different interactable and editable elements of a PDF document, which include comments, annotations, fillable form fields, etc. By flattening a PDF file, you get to combine the multiple layers of a PDF document and get an uneditable and unselectable image-based PDF file. Just like flattening a drawing or surface in AutoCAD, the process of flattening tamps down a 3D vision into 2D.
Daunting as it may sound, it actually can be quite easy to create flat PDFs, even if you are a beginner in PDF, as long as you pick the right tool. And this post contains the exact information you need, on this page, you’ll find the free, fast, and easy 5 methods to flatten a PDF on Windows, Mac, Linux, online or offline.
Do Not Miss: The 12 Best PDF Editors for Windows [Online or Software]
✅ PDFgear.com is a free online PDF flattener tool that offers 1-click flattening by printing your PDFs to read-only PDF documents. Use the PDFgear online PDF editor tool to flatten PDF in seconds, and you are also allowed to edit PDF to make adjustments before flattening.
For those who have a stable internet connection, an online PDF flattener tool like PDFgear is ideal in terms of accessibility and ease of use. PDFgear.com is a web-based PDF management toolkit that offers a handy and practical PDF flattener tool and other practical PDF editing features like annotating PDFs, highlighting text in PDFs, and editing scanned documents.
With it, you can flatten your entire digital PDF document and scanned PDFs in one click, or convert fillable PDF forms to read-only PDFs on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android phones, and iPhones, in simple clicks.
Open a web browser application like Google Chrome on your computer or mobile phone, and navigate to the PDFgear Online PDF Flattener tool. Hit the Choose Files button or drag and drop the file into the flattener UI to upload the PDF you want to flatten to PDFgear.
Then your uploaded PDF document will be automatically loaded in the PDFgear PDF editor’s preview screen. From there, go to the upper-right side and click on the print button.
Then the Printer settings window will pop up for your to customize printer options, pages, colors, etc. When everything is set, hit the Print button to download the flattened PDF on your computer.
As the industry leader in the field of PDF, Adobe Acrobat is the optimal option if you’re looking for professional PDF editing features like flattening PDFs, converting Word documents to PDF, editing PDFs, saving PDF single pages, adding annotations to PDFs, etc. in the most detailed ways.
Adobe Acrobat Pro offers you full customizability when flattening PDFs as it allows you to specify which layer is visible and printable. Since PDF flattening is a paid feature, you need a paid subscription and Adobe Acrobat Pro DC to get started.
Now follow the steps below to flatten an entire PDF or a part of a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.
Step 1. Open Adobe Acrobat Pro DC on your computer, and open the PDF document in it. Before we start it, you can use the Save or Print features in Acrobat to back u the PDF.
Step 2. From the preview screen of the PDF document, hit the Tools option from the upper-left side.
Step 3. From the Tools section, find and click on the Print Production tool.
Step 4. Then click on the Preflight button from the feature panel to the right.
Step 5. From the Preflight window, find and highlight the option that says Flatten annotations and form fields from PDF fixups, and hit Analyze and fix.
Step 5. In the next window, hit Replace to replace the original PDF with the flattened PDF.
If you like the features that the PDFgear online tool offers, but if you’re out on a business trip which means you’re unconnected to the internet, then PDFgear Desktop is worth a try. PDFgear Desktop is a piece of PDF management software for Windows and Mac, and it has a practical PDF flattener tool for you to make PDFs flat offline, and with the batch mode supported, you can flatten multiple PDFs at one go.
When flattening PDFs using PDFgear Desktop, your original PDF file stay intact and unflattened, in case there are further usages to it, so you don’t have to manually back up your document. And with the PDF rearranging features, you can adjust the page orders before the document is made uneditable.
PDFgear Desktop has a user-friendly design so you can easily get the hang of it, now let’s follow the tutorial to learn how to flatten PDFs in PDFgear Desktop.
100% Clean & Safe
Step 1. Use the download button above to download and install PDFgear Desktop on your Windows or Mac computer. Launch it when it’s installed.
Step 2. From the home screen, hit the Open File button above to import the PDF you want to flatten into PDFgear Desktop.
Step 3. Then you’ll be led to the PDF preview screen in PDFgear Desktop, with your PDF document loaded in the window.
Step 4. Go to the upper-left side and hit the Printer button to print the imported PDF document.
Step 5. From the pop-up window, customize various printer settings, and hit print to print and flatten your PDF in PDFgear Desktop.
The well-used web browser application Google Chrome has gradually evolved to be a PDF reader and viewer with many practical PDF reading and editing features, and flattening PDF is one of them.
For example, in our earlier tutorial, we’ve elaborated on how to unlock a PDF without a password using Google Chrome.
With the printing feature in Google Chrome, you can easily flatten annotations, comments, forms in PDF documents, and export a shareable but uneditable PDF document. The steps below show you how to do it.
Step 1. Launch the Google Chrome browser on your computer or mobile phone. You don’t need to connect your device to the internet.
Step 2. Drag and drop the PDF you need to flatten into the UI of the Chrome browser.
Step 3. Hit the Printer button from the upper right side of the PDF preview screen.
Step 4. Then you can customize the printing details in the popup window, and set the destination as Print as PDF.
Step 5. When you’re ready, hit the save button from the lower-right corner to flatten PDF in Chrome.
Another popular choice to flatten or unflatten PDFs is using the PDF collaboration program Bluebeam. If you already have Bluebeam, then this method is best for you.
What makes the PDF Flattener Bluebeam Revu is that it’s a powerful and flexible tool, you are allowed to flatten the entire PDF document in one click, and conduct more precise flattening for a particular part of a PDF document while keeping the formatting for the rest of the areas.
Please note that if you find that you can’t flatten a PDF in Bluebeam, it’s because you haven’t selected any markups or annotations in your PDF document.
Related Post: Find Bluebeam a pricy option? Make sure to check out the 17 best open-source PDF editors.
Step 1. Open the Bluebeam Revu program on your computer, and open the PDF document with it.
Step 2. Go to the Markup list and select the annotations and forms that require flattening.
Step 3. Go to Document and then Flatten Markups or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + M to go to the Flatten Markups dialog box.
Step 4. From the Flatten Markups window, adjust the Flattening details, and hit the lower Flatten button to flatten the imported PDF.
As mentioned, the flattening of PDFs is intrinsically the process of combining and keeping the needed layers of a multi-layer PDF document, and there are tons of applications for creating flat PDFs. The flattening of a PDF can be used for different purposes including:
So pick the method that works best for you and follow the tutorial to get started now!
By flattening a PDF, you merge multiple previously separated layers of a PDF document into one, and flattening PDF is widely used in making the editable PDF read-only.
To flatten a PDF with comments, you need a PDF flattener that flattens annotations. You can use PDFgear.com for flattening the entire document or use Adobe Acrobat or Bluebeam to flatten specific comments.
To flatten a PDF without losing quality, you need to flatten PDFs using a lossless PDF flattener like PDFgear Desktop and Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.
The transparency in PDF is also a type of visible layer of editable PDF documents. To flatten transparency in PDF, the simplest method is using a PDF to JPG converter such as PDFgear.com.
So that will be all about how to flatten a PDF using the 5 easiest methods, I really hope that you have benefited from the good information. Additionally, do not forget that some of these methods are completely free so make sure you have a try on them when you have time! And if you have any better ideas in this regard, please leave a message and let us know.