How to convert a PDF/A file to regular PDF

Radu Tyrsina
by Radu Tyrsina
CEO & Founder
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  • The read-only mode can really ruin your day especially if you're not familiarized with the PDF/A format.
  • That is why we've compiled this step-by-step guide to show you how to disable a document's PDF/A mode and turn it into a regular PDF.
  • To enhance your PDF experience, do take a look at our PDF section every now and then.
  • Since Adobe is the official tool to handle PDFs, use the guides in our Adobe Acrobat Reader Troubleshooting Hub to fix common issues, if and when is the case.
convert PDF/A to PDF

Anyone that owns a PC for either school or work surely knows what a PDF file is. It is probably one of the most versatile file formats available today, allowing for the rendering of texts and images in a singular file.

Of course, not everyone knows what a PDF/A file is. PDF/A is an ISO-standardized version of the PDF format that specialized for use in the archiving and long-term preservation of electronic documents.

Opening PDF/A files is pretty easy for any PDF viewer, but editing it, or doing anything else for that matter is a bit more difficult. In simpler terms, a PDF/A document is the read-only version of a PDF file.

Plenty of users are even having difficulties dealing with such documents because of this:

I am using Adobe Acrobat Pro, I have opened a PDF document and I want to remove/insert some different pages but it is telling me that it complies with PDF/A standards and therefore a read-only file? Can you help please?

That is why we’ve compiled this step-by-step guide to show you how to disable a document’s PDF/A mode and turn it into a regular PDF.

Looking for a good free PDF viewer? Check out our top picks!

How do I disable a document’s PDF/A mode?

Since Adobe Acrobat is the most popular PDF viewer on the market, the guide is specifically made to comply with it.

  1. Open a PDF/A file using Adobe Acrobat DC
  2. Go to Edit (top-right side of the screen)
  3. Go to Preferences
  4. Right under PDF/A View Mode, select the dropdown menu
  5. Select Never

Never PDF/A

By doing this, your PDF/A file will be turned into a PDF file, and will thus no longer be read-only. Additionally, you can perform pretty much any action you desire, including editing it.

If you want to reverse the change and make it read-only again, simply repeat the steps, but select Only for PDF/A documents instead of Never.

Download Adobe Acrobat DC here

Did you ever have issues with a PDF file that was actually a PDF/A file? Let us know if this guide was helpful in the comments section below.

FAQ: Learn more about PDF handler software

  • What is the best file comparison tool?

The most powerful document comparison software for both Windows and Mac-based systems is Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. The software can compare both files and folders and present the differences in visual text format. Also, you can scan the summary with all your changes.

  • Is there a free PDF editor?

There are many options to choose from when it comes to PDF editing that are completely free of charge. Among the best PDF editors, we recommend Adobe Acrobat Reader, Sejda PDF Editor or PDFescape.

  • What is the best free PDF merger?

Our top picks include PDF Merge, PDFsam Basic, and PDFMate Free PDF Merger. Check out this guide for an exhaustive list.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in December 2019 and was revamped and updated in August 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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