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Can I Unflatten a PDF? Find the Easiest Way Here

Many situations require you to flatten your PDFs, especially if the PDF file you are dealing with is layered or a fillable form. When submitting a fillable PDF form or printing a layered PDF file, you need to flatten them. However, if you have added the wrong information to a PDF and flattened it, you will need to unflatten PDF to modify it.

By reading this article to the end, you can learn how to flatten and unflatten a PDF in detail. We'll also recommend an excellent PDF flattening tool. You can try this tool by clicking the free download button below.

Part 1: Can I Unflatten a PDF?

Can you unflatten a PDF? The short answer is yes, you can. However, you need to be aware that many conditions must be followed before a flattened PDF can be unflattened. You first need to know that only the tool used to flatten a PDF can unflatten it. Another important thing when flattening a file in the software, remember to allow the file to be unflattened by choosing the respective option.

For example, if you are flattening a PDF in Bluebeam, check the "Allow Markup Recovery" option before pressing "Flatten." You can't also unflatten a flattened PDF if you have modified the flattened PDF in any way. Using tools like edit PDF, repair PDF, size reduction, PDF redaction, etc., on a flattened PDF will make it impossible to unflatten.

Part 2: Why Do I Need to Unflatten a PDF?

Situations that require you to unflatten a PDF file are as many as the ones requiring you to flatten it. The most common reasons that can force you to learn how to unflatten a PDF are given below:

  • Fillable PDF form usually needs to be flattened before submitting them to respective authorities. However, if you accidentally added the wrong information and flattened the file without realizing it, you will need to unflatten it to modify the PDF form.
  • Watermarks are an important part of document ownership and security. They need to be flattened into the document so others can't remove them. However, if you misplaced the watermark or selected the wrong watermark, your only option is to find a way to unflatten the PDF.
  • Flattening the PDF file is the best way to fully integrate the modifications if you have cropped pages in a PDF. If you cropped a page wrongly or cropped important information and flattened the file, it becomes necessary to unflatten it.
  • Adding comments and notes to a PDF file is a great way to make the file more understandable. To integrate the comments, flattening a PDF is necessary. If you want to edit or add more comments, the PDF file needs to be unflattened first.

Related reading:

Part 3: Flattened vs. Unflattened - Benefits of a Flattened PDF

Flattening your PDF file is required in some situations, and many other scenarios compel you to flatten your PDF files. There are many benefits attached to flatting a PDF file. We have discussed the most common benefits of flatting your PDFs below:

1. Printing PDFs

The most common situation where you need to flatten your PDF files is when printing them. If your PDF files contain multiple layers, only the outermost layer will be printed if you try to print them without flattening the files. That's why flatting them before printing is important to print out all the information.

2. PDF Security

To stop other people from copying or changing the information in your PDF files, you can flatten them. Flattening a PDF file integrates the information and cannot be edited or modified again. For example, if you added a watermark to your file, flatten it, so others can't remove it using PDF editors.

3. Annotation Readability

There are many ways in which a document can be annotated to increase its readability for average readers. However, annotating features like comments or sticky notes are usually added in a new layer in a PDF. That's why many basic PDF apps don't display them. Flatting an annotated PDF file allows it to be accessed by all users.

4. PDF Sharing

PDF files with interactive elements and multiple layers have large sizes. It can make them difficult to share online. Flatting a PDF file will reduce its size and allows it to be processed faster. That makes sharing a flattened PDF more advantageous.

5. Filled PDF Forms

Most places where you need to submit fillable PDF forms require you to flatten them before submission. It is done to maintain the form's security and protect your information. Someone can use a PDF editor to change or extract the information if you don't flatten a fillable form. Thus, it is always recommended to flatten your PDF form before sharing them.

Part 4: How to Flatten a PDF with UPDF

If you are looking for a good PDF tool to flatten your PDF files, we recommend you use UPDF editor, the best economical PDF editor in the market. It provides a great range of premium PDF tools to resolve all issues regarding PDF files. Using this tool, you can easily edit, annotate, organize, compress, or flatten your PDF files. You can edit text, images, links, etc., using its editing feature in a PDF document.

The annotating function allows you to easily add comments, notes, highlight text, etc., to PDF files. You can also compress PDF files to reduce their size. If you need to flatten a PDF file, UPDF offers a great flattening tool. The steps are given below:

Step 1: Open the Targeted PDF file in UPDF

Open the UPDF on your Windows PC or MacBook and import the targeted PDF file using the "Open File" option. You can also use the drag-and-drop method to open the file. Once the file is open, select "Save as Other" from the right toolbar and then click "Save as Flatten."

Step 2: Select the Flatten Type Option

You will see three options for saving your file as a flattened PDF. The options include "Flatten Annotations and Form Fields," "Flatten Watermarks," and Flatten Cropped Pages." You can choose any one option or all at the same time, depending on your needs.

Step 3: Complete the PDF Flattening Process

Once you have selected the flattening option for the PDF, press "Save As" to flatten the PDF file. UPDF will ask you to provide the file name and location to save your PDF as a flattened PDF. Provide the details, and your PDF will be flattened in seconds.

unflatten pdf with updf

Video Tutorial on How to Flatten PDF

Part 5: Can I Unflatten PDF in Bluebeam?

Bluebeam is construction software that can also be used to flatten or unflatten PDF files. The software can precisely extract visual content from a document while removing vectors and other interactive layers without a hitch. If you want to know how to unflatten in Bluebeam, you can follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Before trying to unflatten a PDF in Bluebeam, ensure that the targeted PDF was flattened in Bluebeam with the "Allow Markup Recovery" option enabled. Open your flattened PDF in Bluebeam and select "Unflatten" from "Documents."
  • Step 2: Now, select the layers that you want to unflatten in your PDF file. After selecting the layers, press the "Unflatten" button to unflatten your PDF.


Flattening PDFs or unflattening them provides important utility when dealing with PDF files. The ability to flatten PDF files makes them more secure, while the option to unflatten them allows you to correct your mistakes. UPDF is a great PDF editor that is a complete solution for PDF files. You can easily compress, flatten, edit, and annotate documents with it.