I have a PDF form with calculations that I just created and I intend on using it as an order form. I created it in Excel then brought it into Acrobat Pro DC (Mac OS) to create the form. Its just a simple table that totals the number of units, multiplies it by the price/unit and generates a subtotal.

It looks and functions beautifully in Acrobat. After I save it as a PDF and open it in Preview, none of my calculations seem to exist. Because I will be sending this to customers it is important that the document functions correctly regardless of the user's PDF viewer.

Does anybody have any suggestions on how to get the calculations to stick? Preview has no JavaScript preference and from what I could tell from Acrobat's save options the only option is to discard Java. Below are two screenshots - the first being Acrobat and the second being Preview.

Thank you in advance!



  • I think you are asking too much for a PDF to be distributed to the general public. And Preview notoriously ignores many PDF possibilities (it sticks to its name in that respect).
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


Preview.app is too dumb. It does not understand (Acrobat) JavaScript. Besides that, it destroys the form when the user is saving the file.

A strategy to deal with Preview.app (and all those other dumb PDF viewers floating around) is to "charge" the document in a "dumb viewer" form, and have some JavaScript code which, if it can, gets executed, and activate the logic.

Of course, this does not deal with the destructive power of Preview.app. If you know that a non-neglectable number of users will use Preview.app, hide the fields by default (making the form non-fillable), and have the user print it out and fill it manually … of course, with an according comment.

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