Uncheck All Radio Buttons on a PDF Form

I’ve been banging away at this issue today and figured it would be useful to others out there.

I made a PDF form for my company’s web site using Adobe Acrobat 8. In a couple places I have a “radio” control — that’s where you can select one, and only one, option from multiple choices. If you tick one box, all the others in that set are turned off. When distributing the blank form, however, I want all of the options to be blank. No default — the user has to pick one.

Here’s the issue: In the course of making the form, I checked one of the options, and now I can’t turn it off to distribute the form. I hunted around and got a lot of useless “you should use a checkbox instead” answers. No, I don’t need a checkbox, I just need to un-fill this field.

So how do you blank the field? You add an extra radio button to the set. Flip over to Preview, click the extra box. Back to Edit mode, delete that button. Voila! Blank radio buttons.

You’re welcome. 😉

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26 Responses to Uncheck All Radio Buttons on a PDF Form

  1. Jennifer Juergen says:

    > You add an extra radio button to the set.

    What about the Clear Form menu option?

  2. Jeff says:

    Thank you so much for the tip! This is insane that you have to go to this length to do something that should be so simple.
    Jennifer, I purposely pre-fill most of my form, so the Clear Form option doesn’t work.

  3. patrick says:

    Thank you very much. It should be way easier to do something simple like uncheck a radio button.

  4. Anthony says:

    Genius… THANK YOU. 3 years later and this still works.

  5. Tarziah says:

    I was having the same issue. If you use check boxes instead of radio buttons you will be able to deselect. Check boxes can be linked so that only one can be selected at a time making them function like the radio buttons with the added function of allowing you to have nothing selected.

  6. Teri says:

    Oh…my…word…THANK YOU!! I was about to lose my ever loving mind!

  7. Paul K says:

    Well, I tried all of these tips and couldn’t get any of them to work (InDesign CS 6 and Acrobat X). Ultimately, what did work, was selecting all the radio buttons in each group, changing them to checkboxes, then changing them BACK to radio buttons AND having to rename each group. Thanks Adobe, for thinking this through. NOT.

  8. Paul K says:

    …and, once I did that, I saved a group that works correctly to the Sample Buttons & Forms palette so I won’t have to go through this again on an entire form.

  9. Fred says:

    just set the value of the group to “off”
    so if the group is named “grpOptions”

    • John says:

      Do what Fred says from inside the JavaScript debugger console. It worked for me.

    • Veronica says:

      Using Acrobat Pro 11; Fred’s script worked for me as well. Thank you, Fred.

      The question in my form was one that a user could skip:
      “If you are under age 18, and it is required,
      can you furnish a work permit?” Y/N”

      I wanted to give users a way to recover from an accidental click.
      I added a radio button labeled “N/A”.

  10. Perry says:

    Here is how I solve the problem and it proves to be very effective.
    1. Open an PDF file with checked radio button in Adobe Acrobat XI
    2. Go to Tools/Forms/Edit
    3. Right click on the checked radio button, go to “properties” , then go to “Options” tab
    4. Change whatever value in “Radio Button Choice” box (by default, it’s “choice1”) to any number, make sure “Button is checked by default” box is unchecked, and then click “close” button at the bottom
    5. Click “Close form editing” button on the top right corner, the check mark in the select radio button is gone.

  11. Mark Middleton says:

    What worked for me was to go into form edit mode, then select:
    Tasks>Other Tasks>Clear Form

    Then resave your doc. Worked in Acrobat X Pro.

    • Stephen R says:

      Hi Mark — As others have pointed out, that works great if you want to blank the entire form; but not if you only want to blank the one set of radio buttons.

  12. James says:

    change the value of the radio button, view the document again, then change it back

  13. Pam says:

    I too was wondering how to clear all the boxes that I clicked on when trying out the form. In Adobe Acrobat XI i just came across this feature. Under ‘other tasks’ is an option ‘clear form’. when clicked on it cleared the form of all the selections i had made in the yes/no boxes.

  14. Mary says:

    This post is still helping five long years later! It worked!

  15. hrid says:

    I have created a fill-able pdf using Adobe Acrobat DC PRO. It has a mutually exclusive set of radio buttons. I am using it in my application using Radpdf control for .Net. But it is not working. I can’t select any option from the radio buttons. Can anyone help me out??

  16. Valerie says:

    STILL helping almost 6 years later. Why isn’t this fixed in the program yet?…

  17. kari says:

    Thank you for this! I’m using Acrobat DC, & I tried unchecking the “Button is checked by default” option, but it wouldn’t remove the selection. This worked great. Thank you!

  18. Gary Spedding says:

    Can someone actually summarize the solution here instead of bouncing around. There either is a fix or not and in needs to be expressed clearly by one person who really understands it.

    • CDW says:

      Go back to the very beginning, Stephen R, May 25, 2010: (1) add an extra radio button, (2) check it, (3) then delete it. It worked for me in May 2017.

  19. Psyrn says:

    Even though you posted 7yrs ago, know that your advice is still quite useful. Newbie to the PDF editing thing and this was nagging at me.

  20. CDW says:

    May 12, 2017 and it still works! Thank you Stephen R!!!

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