I work in a unit at a government agency that recently required its 200+ employees and their managers to sign pdf forms annually and upon hire.
Some employees have encountered problems signing these pdfs. The fountain pen icon is grayed out for no apparent reason. Or there is some other issue the employees haven't described. They only say Adobe won't allow them to sign.
In the past, I observed that Adobe wouldn't allow signing by a second person after the documents had been emailed from the first signer. I can usually tell that a document won't allow signing because the fields are no longer blue. If I try to edit or sign such a form, I am asked for a password. (Since I didn't create the document, I don't have the password.) But that's not always the case. Sometimes the fields are white, rather than blue, and Adobe would allow me to sign.
In some cases, when some of the employees have expressed frustration at not being able to sign these pdfs, they have sent me the same form they tried to sign, but I have no problem signing. I believe they are using Adobe Reader 2017 (version 2017.011.30171) and I am using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC (version 2021.001.20145).
I have tried the workaround of printing the pdf to PDF, but received the following message:
%%[ ProductName: Distiller ]%%
This PostScript file was created from an encrypted PDF file.
Redistilling encrypted PDF is not permitted.
%%[ Flushing: rest of job (to end-of-file) will be ignored ]%%
%%[ Warning: PostScript error. No PDF file produced. ] %%
If an inability to sign happens intermittently, and it doesn't happen the same way every time, it's hard to say what's wrong. I would like to help these employees. Is the software corrupt? Should I ask them to generate a system report and / or repair their installation of Adobe? Should I give up and try to create new forms based on the models I have, so I know the password?
> I believe they are using Adobe Reader 2017
Belief is not enough here. You have to know for sure, because many people use non-Adobe applications to view PDF files, either knowingly or not, and those applications are usually sub-part at best, or down right destructive at worst. So the first step has to be finding out exactly what application is used to view the file when this issue occurs.
The likelihood that they're using another software is slim to none because they're all using PCs the agency purchased and software to which the agency subscribed. I can assume they're all using the same version of Adobe, but I would rather not assume that.
Do they all use Internet Explorer? Because all other browsers have their own built-in PDF plugins that many people use when opening a PDF file that was sent to them as a link or if they have a web-based email address.
They're opening an attachment, and they have Adobe installed on their PCs. Those who use Microsoft Outlook 365 open the attachment without using a browser.
You mention that the users in question have a 2017 version of Adobe Reader and your form is encrypted.
In 2017 ISO 32000-2 has been introduced deprecating one kind of AES-256 encryption and introducing another type.
Thus, which kind of encryption exactly have you used? And have you tried other encryption mechanisms, too?
I didn't use the encryption. As far as I know, it was already there. I only found out the forms were encrypted when I tried printing to PDF.
If your users have to process PDFs whose technical properties are not controlled (as here apparently is the case), they should use fairly current software, otherwise all kinds of issues are to be expected.
In an agency with nearly 10,000 employees I have no way of knowing when each user receives software updates because those are completed in waves.
The users are not processing the documents. They are signing them. Imagine having an agreement signed and dataed by two to threee people. That's what's happening.
I did find an Adobe help page that talked about how all documents are automatically encrypted when signed, which I already had observed for the most part. In some instances there was something hinky going on with the software so it wasn't alway encrypted after signing, but those instances didn't occur often.
If the office that issued the documents is willing to share the password with me, then I could unlock the documents until they're signed by all parties involved. I doubt the office will share the password because it will not want to run the risk of anyone altering the documents, however.