How to Flatten a PDF

Flattening a PDF simply represents merging all of the layers, content, and other aspects of a document that were previously separate into one cohesive file. This feature can be quite handy, particularly when you have some interactive aspects in your documents, such as checkboxes, drop-down lists, and text boxes, but you don’t want to keep them interactive when sharing your PDF file.

Thankfully, flattering is a quick and simple procedure that will allow you to effortlessly merge your documents in a couple of clicks, without the need for editing on any change of your current data. Here’s how to use it:

Flattening a PDF with Acrobat

If you’re using Adobe Acrobat as your primary PDF editor, like most people, you can follow the simple steps below to effortlessly flatten your PDF file:

  1. Firstly, open the PDF document that you’d like to flatten in Acrobat.
  2. Click on the Advanced tab, and then choose the PDF Optimizer option.
  3. In the following window, choose the Discard User Data option.
  4. Then, click on the Discard Hidden Layer Content And Flatten Visible Layers option, and press OK.
  5. You might be encouraged to save the PDF under a selected name now.
  6. In the Layers section, choose the Flatten Layers (or alternatively Merge Layers) option.
  7. Finally, save your file by going to File>Save. You could also decide to print your document at this point by choosing File>Print.

Note:  Although the steps described above refer specifically to Adobe Acrobat, the process is quite similar for all other PDF editors that offer flattening as a feature. If not, going to File>Print and then choosing the Export: Flattened PDF (or similar) option might do the trick.

And there you have it; the necessary process you need to go through in order to flatten your PDF document, and efficiently merge all of its interactive or other additional content.