Adobe Acrobat X cannot save files – read only or in use

I had an interesting issue at work today that seemed quite difficult to resolve.

All of our employees have Acrobat X Pro on their laptops and one user was reporting that every time he would modify a PDF, it would complain that it’s either read only or currently in use.

I confirmed that the file was on the user’s home directory and there wasn’t in use by anyone else. I also confirmed that his Read/Write/Modify permissions were correct and he was able to edit other files in the same folder. What I ended up finding was that on his laptop in Windows Explorer (Windows 7) was that he was running the preview pane. It appears Adobe looks at the preview pane as an “Open” file and therefore wouldn’t allow the PDF to be saved.

If you run into this issue, disable the preview pane in Windows Explorer and everything works again!

Lee

Posted on April 13, 2012 at 10:51 am by Lee · Permalink
In: Blog · Tagged with: ,

63 Responses

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  1. Written by Ron
    on April 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    You are right with preview pane off it does save with one click. The problem is I need the preview function. On my work computer it works with preview pane selected but that is with Acrobat 9 not Acrobat X. I have felt like it just cant be designed to work this way. I work with a lot of PDF’s so need to move through them fast with the preview pane. It would be worse for me to leave it off. It has got to have something to do with that preview but seems Adobe should fix it.

    • Written by Lee
      on April 16, 2012 at 11:27 am
      Reply · Permalink

      Totally agree with you Ron.. I have yet to fix an actual fix for the issue other than the workaround described. If I see something, I’ll let you know.

    • Written by Larry
      on May 10, 2012 at 1:47 am
      Reply · Permalink

      I have the problem as follows:
      1. I open a pdf in Acrobat 9 Pro from windows explorer, preview pane on for the same reasons Ron describes.
      2. I modify said pdf usually for page orientation, page order, initial view set to full page (pet peeve of mine).
      3. Try to save the file, or even saveas, and get the error.

      Closing the preview pane does work, but I believe it is more windows explorer’s issue. I have similar issues with the darn “thumbs.db” preventing folder deletion, renaming, etc. so I am inclined to pin this “file lockout” issue on Windows, not Adobe.

  2. Written by pet finance
    on April 22, 2012 at 7:45 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    A friend referred me to this website. Thank you for the details.

    • Written by Lee
      on April 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm
      Reply · Permalink

      Thanks for visiting.

  3. Written by Daryl
    on April 25, 2012 at 12:13 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Wow… Just wow.

    Thank you!

    • Written by Lee
      on April 26, 2012 at 1:42 pm
      Reply · Permalink

      I’m glad I was able to help… it was killing me at work for a couple of hours!
      Thanks for coming by.

  4. Written by Jason
    on May 3, 2012 at 7:05 am
    Reply · Permalink

    This problem happens if a user opens a document attached to an e-mail. There’s no preview going on, just opening the attachment. Any idea where to fix that?

  5. Written by Denise
    on May 16, 2012 at 7:01 am
    Reply · Permalink

    If you don’t want to close the Preview Pane, after you launch your document, go back to Windows Explorer and just click on another document. Thus, that document will not show in the Preview Pane and your open PDF document is not considered to be “read only or open by another user.”

  6. Written by i
    on June 2, 2012 at 2:24 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Thank you–I’m Acrobat 9 on W7, and this worked for me–shocking how this issue beckoned the beasts of research, but required an easy, semi-logical fix. Whew! (Let’s see what Windows 8 brings…)

    • Written by Lee
      on June 4, 2012 at 9:27 am
      Reply · Permalink

      Thanks for the comment… glad I was able to help.

  7. Written by Renee
    on August 7, 2012 at 6:31 am
    Reply · Permalink

    I tried this and it didn’t solve the problem for me. I have Adobe Standard X. Can’t save any changes to any pdf. Have to save as another name and then go back and delete the original.

  8. Written by John
    on August 14, 2012 at 3:58 am
    Reply · Permalink

    This worked for me as well. In this case, user has Acrobat 9 Pro and is saving files to a shared drive on a Windows server.

    If I opened the document first, then turned off Windows Explorer preview, then tried to save the document, I would receive the error.

    However, if I turned off preview first, then opened the document, made a change then tried to save, it worked every time.

    To me, it seems that the server sees the previewed document as an open file, which is why the save is not allowed.

    Just for laughs, I tried a test case from my system. First, I created a new folder on a network share, then copied a PDF file to it. I opened the file, made a comment, then saved it, which worked. Then, I closed the document, turned on Preview mode in Explorer, reopened the file, added a comment, then tried to save it. This time, I received the ‘document could not be saved’ message. I turned off Preview mode, then tried to save again, and still could not. Then, I opened the document with preview mode turned off, added a comment and saved, which worked as it should.

    Be sure you turn Preview mode off BEFORE opening a document you want to change!

    • Written by Lee
      on August 21, 2012 at 4:35 pm
      Reply · Permalink

      Thanks for the detailed write up John. I still find it amazing that after 2 versions (atleast) Adobe still cannot work out a fix for this!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Written by Kellie
    on October 7, 2012 at 7:18 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Hello There. I discovered your blog the use of msn.
    This is an extremely neatly written article. I’ll be sure
    to bookmark it and come back to read extra of your useful information.
    Thank you for the post. I’ll certainly return.

  10. Written by Sara
    on October 11, 2012 at 8:08 am
    Reply · Permalink

    This solved my problem! Now I look like a genius to my end user. Thanks Lee!

    • Written by Lee
      on October 11, 2012 at 8:02 pm
      Reply · Permalink

      Hey Sara.
      Glad I was able to help you out!! Feel free to come back anytime.

  11. Written by Pete
    on October 16, 2012 at 6:11 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Wow! This blog looks just like my old one!
    It’s on a completely different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

  12. Written by Lisa
    on October 17, 2012 at 1:16 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Wow – thank you so much

    I spent ages searching for this error – close the explorer window and voila

    you are my hero

    • Written by Lee
      on October 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm
      Reply · Permalink

      Haha thanks Lisa… dunno about hero.. maybe just a guy with a problem that needed a fix! Please stop by anytime.
      Lee

  13. Written by Jim
    on October 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Thank you, turning off preview pane works! This was annoying the heck out of me, Windows 7 with Acrobat X 10.1.4

    • Written by Lee
      on October 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm
      Reply · Permalink

      Jim.. glad I was able to help!! Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Written by Dan
    on October 31, 2012 at 3:01 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Thank you sooo much. We finally get the problem solved. We even rebuilt our server because of this reason, and still had the same problem until we came across your article. You saved us big time.

    • Written by Lee
      on November 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm
      Reply · Permalink

      Dan that sucks mate. Nothing worse than having to rebuild an OS over such a trivial issue. Pity they haven’t come out with a fix for this yet.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  15. Written by Patrik
    on November 2, 2012 at 1:06 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Lee, another thanks for solving this mystery.
    Hope Acrobat works on fixing it!!

  16. Written by Linda
    on November 5, 2012 at 1:14 am
    Reply · Permalink

    amen, thanks!

  17. Written by Becky
    on November 6, 2012 at 3:17 am
    Reply · Permalink

    I’m not using the preview pane and still have this problem. I need to save my PDFs in two places. If I reopen a previously saved PDF, make a change, I can “save” it just fine, but when I try to “save as” to the second location, I get the message that the file is currently open. The acrobat window has not been closed between the initial opening and this and the only way I’ve found to eliminate it in this instance is to completely close acrobat and reopen the modified document in the first location and then I can save it in the second location. I have made sure the second location’s document wasn’t selected in any way. I’m sure this is a little confusing, but it happens every time. Hopefully this will simplify my problem: Create PDF, “Save” to location A, “Save As” to location B. Open PDF in location A, make change, “Save” to location A-successful, “Save As” to location B fails with “This file is still open” message. Any ideas on this one?

    • Written by Lee
      on November 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm
      Reply · Permalink

      Not too sure why that’s not working for you. Have you just tried copying the file A to location B in Windows Explorer instead of through Acrobat?

      Please let me know how you go?
      Lee

  18. Written by ChrystinP
    on November 11, 2012 at 4:35 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Wow, I have been driven nuts by the fact that ever since I put Adobe 10 on my new computer, I could not save a file I had made changes in. I’d have to do a re-name, then delete the original folder, then name the changed file back to the original. What a time sucker. I’ve been looking and looking for an answer to this problem (Adobe support has no clue) and found it today. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • Written by Lee
      on November 12, 2012 at 10:37 am
      Reply · Permalink

      Glad to be able to help!!!

  19. Written by Michael
    on November 28, 2012 at 7:55 am
    Reply · Permalink

    This really helped. Thanks. By the way, I never had this problem until I switched from XP to Win 7 Pro (using 64 bit). Using Acrobat 9 Pro.

    • Written by Lee
      on November 29, 2012 at 9:15 am
      Reply · Permalink

      Hi Michael.
      Glad I was able to help. Thanks for stopping by.

  20. Written by Michelle
    on December 8, 2012 at 8:40 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Thank you!! This has been driving me crazy! I turned off the preview mode and I can now save files withour renaming.

    Thanks again :)

    • Written by Lee
      on January 3, 2013 at 11:25 am
      Reply · Permalink

      No worries at all Michelle!

  21. Written by Todd
    on January 11, 2013 at 12:30 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Disabling Preview mode worked for me!!!!

  22. Written by Stacey Jones
    on January 16, 2013 at 7:41 am
    Reply · Permalink

    I am having the same issue, but only with PDF files I am trying to save from the internet, for example, https://www.linnmar.k12.ia.us/calendar13-14.pdf. I am running Windows 7 64-bit, and the preview pane is off in Windows Explorer. I am using a registered version of Adobe Acrobat Pro X, version 10.1.4.

    I am trying to save to my local machine, not a network drive. “Save” is not an option. If I try to “Save as” I get an error saying the file is read-only or in use by another person, and telling me to save it as another name. I still get the error if I completely change the name of the file. I’m on my last nerve with this error. Any thoughts?

  23. Written by Stacey Jones
    on January 16, 2013 at 7:42 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Sorry – one more comment. The preview pain in Windows Explorer is off.

    Thanks.

  24. Written by Katie
    on February 28, 2013 at 2:50 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Thank you so much for posting this!!! I could not figure this out for the life of me.

    • Written by Lee
      on December 12, 2013 at 7:07 am
      Reply · Permalink

      You’re welcome… thanks for coming by.

  25. Written by Lola
    on March 5, 2013 at 3:01 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Thanks, Lee!!! This inability to save over my modified PDF files was killing me. I feel slightly red faced that I could not figure out the “preview” pane being the culprit *logically* on my own, but hey! Some times the simplest of explanations are right there in front of us.

    Saved me huge amounts of time and energy/frustration.

    Grazie!

    Lola

    • Written by Lee
      on December 12, 2013 at 7:07 am
      Reply · Permalink

      No worries Lola. I believe this now works in version 11.

  26. Written by Ian Boyd
    on March 9, 2013 at 7:19 am
    Reply · Permalink

    I read the comments and see that most of them are about being thankful having the problem fixed. It is not a fix, it’s more of a way to go by ignoring the f… problem! It’s is like having a flat tire on your car and take the bus instead of having the tire repaired, way to go!

    I cannot believe that after more than a year, this bug between Windows 7 and Acrobat X hasn’t been properly fixed.

    • Written by Lee
      on December 12, 2013 at 7:08 am
      Reply · Permalink

      I’m sorry to hear you are disappointed with my answer. I suggest taking up your frustrations with Adobe as they are the vendor not I.

  27. Written by Jonathan
    on March 14, 2013 at 11:37 am
    Reply · Permalink

    GREAT FIND, thanks for sharing.

    • Written by Lee
      on December 12, 2013 at 7:09 am
      Reply · Permalink

      Thanks for stopping by.

  28. Written by Chaim
    on April 29, 2013 at 7:57 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Thanks! Had the same problem, you were the first result on Google.

    • Written by Lee
      on December 12, 2013 at 7:09 am
      Reply · Permalink

      Thanks I’m pretty proud of that :)

  29. Written by DRFANG
    on May 2, 2013 at 9:46 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Lee,
    Thank you muchly for your efforts and results.
    Thought it was a cache issue with my SSD..about to upgrade its firmware in the hope…but not now.
    All software has bugs let alone when two competing forces try and work together.
    Well done mate from Down Under.
    (Can you fix government deficits?)

    • Written by Lee
      on December 12, 2013 at 7:11 am
      Reply · Permalink

      Thanks DRFANG! Great to see an fellow Aussie posting here! I could fix the Govt but have told all the recruiters that I use, to never find me another govt job :)

  30. Written by Laurie
    on May 25, 2013 at 7:21 am
    Reply · Permalink

    As another commenter noted, this is a fix but a work-around. It’s really annoying if you work with a lot of different files and find the preview panel as useful as I do. This is an Adobe problem since Acrobat is the only program I use that seems to have this problem–other applications have no problem saving the file when it’s simultaneously being viewed in the preview panel. Somehow Acrobat believes the file is actually open. They need to fix this. This was not an issue before Windows 7.

    • Written by Lee
      on December 12, 2013 at 7:12 am
      Reply · Permalink

      Poor choice in words on my behalf… I believe version XI resolves this.

  31. Written by Laurie
    on May 25, 2013 at 7:22 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Sorry, my first sentence should’ve said “this is NOT a fix but a work-around.”

  32. Written by Kanag
    on July 30, 2013 at 7:28 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Hi, one of my emp having the same prob. after editing unable to save.. i have changed the explorer view option from preview to another it was working thankssss.

    • Written by Lee
      on December 12, 2013 at 7:12 am
      Reply · Permalink

      You’re welcome… thanks for stopping by.

  33. Written by Shuan
    on September 25, 2013 at 11:02 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    I can have preview pane on AND at the same time save file in Acrobat after I installed the Foxit Reader which is developed by Amazon, a trusted website. It is even better that software is free and extremely fast!

    Thanks for those posts explaining why Acrobat cannot be used in two tasks for both previewing and editing.

    • Written by Lee
      on December 12, 2013 at 7:15 am
      Reply · Permalink

      I’m also a fan of Foxit. Since Adobe moved to the subscription model, we are starting to use PDF Factory Pro as the alternative.

      Dear Adobe, you wish to increase our licensing fees by $800,000 USD per year, we will use something else.
      Kind Regards,
      Users who don’t like to be ripped off!

  34. Written by Gina
    on January 16, 2014 at 3:25 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    I have the Nuance pdf converter and was experiencing a similar issue. Since I work from home and my time is limited to what I can accomplish, spending 8 hours trying to fix the problem doesn’t work! I tried your solution and it fixed the issue! Thanks very much, not only is it time consuming trying to figure what is happening but frustrating as well.

  35. Written by Sarah
    on February 12, 2014 at 8:00 am
    Reply · Permalink

    I don’t have the preview pane open, but am getting this same error. I have a PDF file that I am trying to add a security password to. I also need to insert files to this document. I can add a security password and save each file separately. But, If I try to combine into one, I get the error saying ” the file may be in read only, or another user may have it open, please save the document in a different name.” I have one PDF Document, I then insert a separate PDF document, I can save the file just fine. But, when I then try to add a security password I get the “read only” message. Any Suggestions?

  36. Written by Sarah
    on February 12, 2014 at 8:07 am
    Reply · Permalink

    In regards to my previous post – forgot to add that once I re-start my computer I can then add the security setting and save it successfully. It doesn’t give me the message that the file is in read only.

  37. Written by Liz
    on April 1, 2014 at 2:56 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Thank you so much for posting this! I was going crazy trying to figure out why I suddenly couldn’t save documents. I’m going to bookmark your site in case I need it in the future.

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    on April 13, 2014 at 2:10 pm
    Reply · Permalink

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    Reply · Permalink

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    on April 20, 2014 at 12:34 pm
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