Poor Form: Designing Interactive PDF Forms on a Mac

I completed an interactive PDF forms design project for a client quite a while ago. They were running a windows desktop / server environment. Acrobat Pro 9 & Live Cycle was the combo that fit the bill and got the job done for that client. I was actually rolling with a windows rig at the time (foreshadowing).

Well they came back to me recently with the desire to update the design of their current forms. Honestly, I haven’t touched Acrobat Pro in a while, currently running Pro X (10) on Mac. Well let me tell you, I had a very rude awakening:

1. Acrobat X Pro and above no longer ships with Live Cycle Designer. It is now called Adobe Designer ES*x* and is a completely separate licence.

2. Live Cycle & Live Cycle Designer was NEVER available for Mac because Live Cycle was designed to be a form deployment/collection server application.


“Groannn” To solve my dilemma, I just ended up installing the old Acrobat Pro 9 extended in Windows on Parallels.

Fortunately, along the way I discovered PDF Studio 9 Professional! An amazing alternative for Mac if you just want to design interactive forms and are not concerned with the backend server data collection, check it out! (Note, that only the Pro version allows interactive form design)

After a few test drives I found PDF Studio Pro as robust as Adobe Live Cycle Designer for interactive form design and a fraction of the price! One glaring omission I noted immediately was the lack of an image form field tool.

I’ll wrap this up, but I wanted to share in case any of you fine folks encounter a gig that requires interactive PDF forms.

Photo courtesy Creative Commons.org | “Gymnastics and rope climbing” | Internetarchivebookimages | Changes: Caption


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Leila Hreply
December 19, 2014 at 10:09 am

Thanks for the review about our software PDF Studio.

For image button, have you tried using a button field with a Javascript action event.target.buttonImportIcon();
It is not a real image field but it lets you associate an image to a button. Reset will not work on such field. To clear it though you will need to have an editor such as PDF Studio and go under Properties -> Options -> Clear.

roland nreply
December 11, 2015 at 5:17 am

That’s my life guard! Thank you!

January 12, 2016 at 6:01 am

Thanks .. Had the same issue for one of my clients and will start discovering PDF Studio within 5 minutes from now!

January 24, 2020 at 2:42 am

I just installed that app on your advice….but it doesn’t offer “interactive” forms as you state! It just allows form creation like any other similar app. Doesn’t have the XFA features of Livecycle Designer at all!

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