Acrobat 10.1.1 Bug? “The document could not be saved. There was a problem reading this document…” UNSOLVED

Edit 11/25/2011: After hours of troubleshooting and starting completely over from scratch with fresh PDFs from InDesign, the problem happened again, implying this is most likely a bug with Acrobat Pro 10.1.1. I was able to get one of my two files finished without any problems, but the second one gave the error when I tried to save. This is a serious problem and I’ll be filing a bug report.

I’ve reverted back to Acrobat 10.0 for the time being hoping that will be more stable.


At least two different PDF files are giving the error “The document could not be saved. There was a problem reading this document. [#]” where ‘#’ is some number, different for each of the files. I created these files on the computer that I’m trying to edit them on. I’m making very simple edits (just changing the file destinations of a few buttons). Often Acrobat will crash if I attempt to do anything else with the file after I get the error message. Once I get this message, the file is corrupted and can no longer be opened (luckily I had backups and only lost the minor edits I had been trying to make).


  • Mac OS X ver. 10.6.8
  • Acrobat X Pro ver. 10.1.1
  • Files were exported from InDesign CS 5.5.1 about 2 months ago and edited heavily in Acrobat X Pro.
  • Only relevant changes on the system that I’m aware of since I last worked on the files 2 months ago have been minor OS updates and, if I remember right, the Acrobat update from 10.1 to 10.1.1.
  • Documents in question are 200+ files full of bookmarks, buttons, hyperlinks, and cross references, but no comments or form fields.
  • Update: problem happened again with brand new file exported fresh today from InDesign. The edits I’m doing in Acrobat Pro involve creating/editing several bookmarks, changing document meta data, initial view settings, rotating several pages, and changing the file destination of about 100 buttons (as InDesign is incapable of setting them properly to open in new Acrobat Windows). On the first file I did it worked fine, but the second file gave the error when I tried to save it.


I suspect stability issues in the 10.1.1 update, although I have no proof at this point. The files worked fine prior to installing updates, and a new PDF got the error after working in 10.1.1 after about 1 hour. I reverted back to 10.0 and redid the file with no problems, but that’s no guarantee of a solution, as I could have just been lucky. The error most likely involved the many buttons linking to other PDFs; it is necessary to use Acrobat to reset the link destination for each button, because there is no way in InDesign to specify that the links should open the PDFs in new windows. For some reason changing many of these links in 10.1.1 causes the file to become corrupt. I have not had any problems prior to installing the 10.1.1 update.


The following troubleshooting steps were NOT beneficial in solving the problem, but I’ve included them here to show what what I did along the way and to help others if my solution doesn’t solve the problem.

  • Save As immediately after opening a clean copy, before making any edits. In my case, I was able to Save As if I had not made any edits, but if I edited the file in various ways, then Acrobat would often crash and the file become corrupt.
  • Doing different types of test edits. I tried using the Touch-Up Text tool and Touch-Up Object tool as well as changing my button properties and had the same error message when trying to save.
  • Try different files. same problem happened on at least two different files. This often implies it’s not a problem with the files. However, the files were last saved on the same day a couple months ago.
  • According to various posts on Adobe’s support forums, this message has historically been linked to invalid annotation objects (usually comments). As I have no comments in the document, I felt this was not very likely, but I still tried extracting all 330 pages as individual files and then looked for missing pages. There were no errors and no missing pages. However, reading the support post helped confirm my (incorrect) suspicions that the problem might be related to my installation.
  • Uninstall/reinstall Acrobat. At this point I started to think it might be my installation of Acrobat or my computer. I uninstalled Acrobat X, found and removed leftover prefs and app support files, reinstalled, applied updates, same error.
  • Uninstall/reinstall without updates. Tried without the update, same error.
  • Different computer. To rule out any problems on my computer, I installed Acro X on my old Mac (it still had 9 on it) and got the same error.
  • Saving As an Optimized PDF. At first I thought this had fixed the problem, as I was able to make several changes to the file and save. However, I eventually got the same error. I used the following settings in the optimizer:
    -Made compatible with Acrobat 7 (this is the standard for this particular project)
    -Left images and fonts unchanged
    -The only two “Discard Object” options enabled were alternate images and embedded printer settings
    -No “Discard User Data” options were enabled.
    -All “Clean Up” options were enabled except for “Discard unreferenced named destinations.
  • Starting over with completely new PDF files. Worked for one document. The other gave the same error when trying to save the final version. This leads me to conclude that Acrobat 10.1.1 might have a bug, or there might be some other issue on my system. If I continue to have problems on my computer I’ll try using it on another computer, and also try reverting back to Acro 10.0.


7 Responses to Acrobat 10.1.1 Bug? “The document could not be saved. There was a problem reading this document…” UNSOLVED

  1. Doug MacLean August 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    I did a work-around that has worked for me on a 70 page document that I needed to update, similar to what is described above, but with some changes.

    First, I cleaned up the original pdf in Adobe Acrobat Professional 9.5.2 (Mac OS 10.7.4) by selecting Document/Examine Document and when the examining was done, I clicked “Remove”. That gave me a “clean” document.

    Then I made one small text change and saved it. I then selected “Advanced/PDF Optimizer”, selected “Fonts” and then clicked “Save”. The one small text change increased the file size by over a megabyte and the PDF Optimizer reduced the file size again. I then repeated this process, but increased the number of changes before saving.

    This worked with one caveat. The problem seems to be that the number of changes can get so large that it causes problems. Doing a bit at a time and the procedure above seemed to eliminate the problem most of the time. If a problem still occurs, the last saved copy can be used and just one change at a time can be done and saved to identify what change is causing problems. Then an alternative method can be use to deal with the change that is causing a problem. This happened once to me and I copied and pasted in the text needed instead of trying to revise the text directly in the pdf.

  2. Michael West March 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    I had this error on a 257 page PDF that I was analyzing. The bug wouldn’t let me save. But I found that even though using CTRL S to save gave me the error, closing the document and selecting Yes when asked if I wanted to save the document allowed it to be saved. Then, I found – by accident – that if I tried to close the document without saving and replied Yes to save, it gave the error. Acknowledging the error and using CTRL S to save allowed me to save the document. Go figure.

  3. sanjeev kumar March 30, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    When I encountered an error “there was a problem reading this document 110” in Acrobat Pro 11 on 28.7 MB CS6 file, it indeed was very frustrating.
    I solved my problem, but since I don’t know which step benefitted me, I’ve to enumerate all the steps I took:

    Read below:
    1.1. I could copy the file anywhere on the drive, but couldn’t ‘save as’ from Acrobat Pro.
    1.2. No document security was applied of any sort on the file.
    1.3. Still in the first tab of the document properties, all details under advance section were empty. No ‘PDF Version’ ‘location’ ‘file size’ etc were populated. Nothing.
    1.4. I couldn’t change and save anything in any of property dialogue. I could comment on the text, but as soon as I tried to save, it gave an error (some sort of ‘File reading’ error).
    1.5. When I tried to extract a page (I tried many), it gave ‘reading error’.
    1.6. I didn’t try ‘splitting error’. Since I was 100% sure, it’ll give me same reading error.
    1.7. I opened the file in Firefox and tried saving it as pdf from there. But no error, but no save either.
    1.8. I ran ‘Remove Hidden Information’ from protection panel without any errors.
    1.9. I tried ‘sanitize document’ from the same tab, but didn’t succeed.
    1.10. Then (here I think the problem was resolved), from Document Processing panel, I did some commands. 1st, ‘Export all images’, successfully. Then ‘Remove all links’, it found 0.
    1.11. Then in ‘print production’ panel, I clicked/tried to open acrobat distiller. The same opened, did some processing. But I don’t know if it did something in solving the problem or not.
    1.12. Although I think my problem was resolved till now, but the last step I did was ‘Saved As’ the file (from the file menu) as a .ps file. Though I’ve not yet reopened/used that ps file (to convert it into a pdf file again). But around here I wanted to close the file and it asked me whether I wanted to save the file, I said yes. And it saved the file correctly. And I checked that in properties dialogue, the missing information was populated too.

    1.13. Sorry for so lengthy instructions, but I had no choice.

  4. bahr weiss May 16, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    I had this same problem. A work around is to print the file to pdf, it then (at least for me) could be modified and saved.

  5. Robert Hargoff June 26, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    Simple fix for me, opened the pdf with a text editor. Changed some plain text metatags. In my case I truncated words like “Examination” to “Exam”. I was able to save and the file was fully functional. Don’t know why or how but it worked. Good luck.

  6. chopstks November 27, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    Windows 7 Adobe Reader XI. I have “the document could not be saved…”. Our workaround is, like someone here has said, to print the problem PDF file to a virtual printer that generates a copy of the PDF file and that sovled the issue.

  7. David January 15, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    I am having the same problem. I hope this can be resolved. I have thousands of pdf files on my computer and I have the same issue with every one of them. It has nothing to do with the size of the file, when or how it was created. Every pdf file has the same problem. If I open it and try to “save as” I have an error show up that says “The document could not be saved. There was a problem reading this document (21)”

    I read on one of these forums if you select the ctrl button while clicking the ok button additional information would appear. The additional information was “The direct object already has a container”

    An additional note is after the update when I do select save as the window that appears is different than it has ever been. I am using windows 7 by the way.

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