How to flatten a PDF for free

How to Flatten a PDF for FREE

In this article, we show you how to flatten a PDF for free using Soda PDF’s online tool. You can flatten your PDF file in only a few clicks, without any registration or account needed.

Filling out forms online

If you’ve ever had to fill out a form online, you might remember that it used to be quite a difficult process!

Before the rise of fillable PDF forms, the only way to fill out a form over the internet was to print out the blank form, fill it out by hand, then scan and save it as a regular PDF document or image file. Only then could you upload and share it by email or submit it to a website.

Those days are thankfully gone, and now most people use fillable PDF forms to share information online. However, with an easily fillable PDF form comes a new concern: tampering with the information in the form fields.

What does it mean to “flatten PDF files?”

In order to prevent this from happening, there’s a process you can use called “flattening” a PDF, which locks in the information you entered in the PDF form’s fields. This process essentially turns the PDF into an image that can’t be altered – whether it’s on purpose or by accident.

Flattening a PDF also removes any layers or additional elements of your document, such as drop-down lists. So in essence, you’re turning the interactive, multi-layered PDF document into a “flat” image, hence the expression.

Why flatten PDF files?

When you do this to your PDF document, the “fillable” sections of the form will be locked out. No one will be able to enter or change information on the form anymore after it’s been flattened. This will ensure the security and integrity of your information.

Without further ado, here’s how you can flatten PDFs without having to pay for it or sign up for an account.

How to flatten PDF online for free

There’s no tool called a PDF “flatten” or anything like that. Flattening a PDF is basically just turning it into an image file. The most popular format for this is JPEG.

How to convert from PDF to JPG - PDF to JPG online converter - Soda PDF Online

So here’s how to convert PDFs into JPEGs using Soda PDF.

  • Go to the Soda PDF website
  • Navigate to the Online Tools menu -> click on View More
  • Select the PDF to JPG icon from the array of tools
  • Drag and drop your file into the browser area to upload it and Soda PDF takes care of the rest! You don’t even have to click “convert” or anything.
  • You can then download and save your new “flattened” file, which will be in JPG file format.

After you’ve converted your file, you might want to reduce the size of your PDF document for easier sharing over the internet.

How to reduce the size after you flatten PDF

Depending on the information in them, when you flatten PDF files, they might not reduce in size significantly. If you need to significantly reduce the size of your flattened PDF, you’ll have to compress it.

The procedure using Soda PDF’s free online function is essentially the same as we outlined above.

How to compress a flattened PDF file for free using Soda PDF

  • Go to the Soda PDF website
  • Navigate to the Online Tools menu
  • Click on the Compress PDF menu item
  • Choose your file, upload it and Soda PDF takes care of the rest!
  • You can then download and save your new compressed file.
Compress PDF - Online PDF Compressor - Soda PDF Online

Can I edit a flattened PDF?

The short answer is no. When you flatten a PDF, you turn the document (which would otherwise be interactive) into a static image, removing any layers.

Flattening provides security and can reduce the file size, but the tradeoff is that it will eliminate the possibility to edit the document as you would an interactive PDF with many layers.

After you flatten it, you could use another app to convert your PDF into an editable Microsoft Office format, so you could extract and save the information into another PDF file to edit it.

Will my compressed PDF file’s quality be compromised?

Flattening will convert PDFs into a JPEG, which might reduce some of the quality – but not by much. Compressing the PDF before you flatten it will make it take up less space without compromising its quality.

It might sound impossible to reduce the file size while maintaining its resolution – but it’s not! The Soda PDF tool does this by scanning the document for repetitive data patterns.

It then replaces this data with unique identifiers. By replacing this repetitive data with these much lighter identifiers, the app is able to significantly reduce the size of the file without reducing its overall quality.

This will allow you to reduce the size of your PDF before you flatten it so it takes up less space. This will in turn make it easier to transfer when you send it over the internet.

Flatten PDF documents online or offline with Soda PDF

If you just want a quick way to flatten, convert or compress your PDFs, you can use the online tools on the Soda PDF website here.

Export PDF to Image Tool - Soda PDF Desktop - How To Flatten a PDF for FREE - Soda PDF

If you’re looking for a full suite of PDF tools, or to convert and compress (PDF flatten) PDFs offline, you’ll need to install the Soda PDF Desktop app. Go to Soda PDF download page and follow the instructions to download and install the software. Note that it’s only available for Windows users.

Compress Tool - Soda PDF Desktop - How To Flatten a PDF for FREE - Soda PDF

Whether you’re looking to edit, create, convert, merge, split, secure, E-Sign or OCR your PDF documents, make sure to use our powerful PDF tools for all your document needs, whether via Soda PDF Desktop or Soda PDF Online!

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