U.S. Department of Homeland Security - United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
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FAQs about the Auxiliary Staff Forms Warehouse

USCG-Auxiliary Help Desk

This FAQ section relates to electronic forms. A wide range of topics are covered.Questions cover beginner to expert levels of expertise.

  1. How Do I Find the Form I Need?
  2. I Clicked on the Form's Icon But Couldn't View the Form. Why?
  3. How Do I Download Files?
  4. What is a PDF File?
  5. What Do I Need to Get to View a PDF File?
  6. So How Do I Choose Which PDF Program is Right for Me?
  7. What is the Difference Between Standard and Fill-In Forms?
  8. How Can I Tell if a Form File is STANDARD or FILL-IN Format?
  9. How Do I Open PDF Files Downloaded from the Web with Mac Systems?
  10. Can I Save Copies of Filled-in Forms?
  11. What Equipment is Needed to Print Good Quality Forms?
  12. How Can I Print a Form without Printing the Instructions?
  13. Why Do I Receive a Password Protection Error when Opening Form Files?
  14. Why Does My PDF File Open in "PREVIEW" - MAC USERS?
How Do I Find The Form I Need?

Official electronic forms are available on this website on the PDF Forms page. Each posted form is listed by ANSC designation, CG number (if applicable), and form name. If you don't know the form number, you can use your browser Find function to search the titles for a particular search string. Click on the icon associated with any form to view the content of that form.

Why Couldn't I View the Form after Clicking on the Form's Icon?

The usual reason for this is that you do not have a PDF Viewer program installed, either as a stand-alone program, and/or as a Browser Plug-in. (See How to Choose a PDF Program). However, if the problem only occurs with one particular form, please use the Technical Assistance Request form to report the problem.

How Do I Download Files?

Files are downloaded by clicking on the icon associated with a particular form. On Windows systems, use your *right* mouse button (NOT the *left* button you usually use). On Mac systems, use "Option" click. Depending on your browser, a dialogue box will appear, with a choice such as "Save this file to disk", "Save link as", or ", or Save Target as". Choose your option most similar to these, and you should be prompted for a location on your machine in which to save the form file, along with the option to change the file name. Once you complete this dialog your web browser should enter a file transfer mode during which a copy of the form will be automatically transfered from this website to the selected location on your computer.

What Is A PDF File?

Adobe Systems Incorporated developed the Portable Document Format (PDF) file format as a protocol to provide cross computer platform compatibility. It has since become an Open Standard for which support comes from many suppliers, in addition to Adobe. By solving prior problems where viewing and printing of documents across varying computers, operating systems, printers, and programs often did not coincide, the exact same PDF file may now be effectively used on PCs, Apples, Unix-based computers, or many of the modern devices used to interact with the Internet. Over time, the PDF Format has evolved to support additional functions such as mark-up and commenting features, programmed Form capabilities allowing users to fill-in data on the document prior to printing, and passing of such data to or from other applications, to name a few.

What Do I Need to Get to Use PDF Files?

It should first be understood that there are multiple functions that can be performed with PDF files. These include viewing, printing, entering data in fill-in fields, printing and saving such data, and creating, editing, converting, and managing multiple PDFs. You need to understand just what it is that you will want to do. Basic PDF Viewers [and printers] are offered for free from several suppliers, but versions offering varying combinations of some advanced features may or may not come with a price tag. Some PDF Viewers are provided as stand-alone programs, whereas others come in the form of Plug-ins to Web Browsers, or both. PDF Programs handling combinations of higher capabilities, such as PDF creation, manipulation, document recreation, and inter-system interfacing can range considerably in price.

So How Do I Choose Which PDF Program is Right for Me?

Most users start with a very basic, free PDF Viewer such as Adobe Reader, which often comes bundled with other software or hardware. But as their needs progress, users can try out other alternatives to see which best meet their expanding needs. Depending upon platform and category, users can find both free and priced offerings, although some suppliers provide free trial downloads of the latter. Research on the Internet can be helpful in comparing prices and working through the confusion of conflicting combinations of functions. Publicly supported sources such as Wikipedia maintain lists of PDF Software by platform and category. You might also ask your Flotilla Officers if they have 'standarized on' or recommend any particular product that would be compatible with your environment.

What Is The Difference Between Standard and Fill-In Forms?

Two types of PDF forms are currently being posted. Both formats may be accessed using typical free PDF Viewers. Standard Forms are those which allow the user to view the form on their computer screen and to simply print out a copy on their printer. The resulting printed form should be an exact duplicate of the version available from ANSC and the user's data would be filled-in by hand. Fill-In forms provide these same features as Standard forms, but in addition, users are given the optional ability to type in their data while the form is displayed on their computer. The use of help boxes can guide the user through this data entry process. When such a filled-in form is printed, the typed-in data is included and makes for a more professional and easier to read result. Those users using Viewers with the advanced data save function can also save the form on their computer with their data included. This allows the user to reopen the saved file and simply type in only the changed data, should there be a need for resubmittal of the form for any reason. With either type of saved form, the user should be careful to check upon reuse to see if the form has changed and been deemed obsolete, in which case the new version should be be downloaded and the obsolete version deleted. Note that some changed forms do include notice that a previous version may still be used until expended.

How Can I Tell If a Form File Format is Standard Or Fill-In?

By inspecting the associated icon for the Form. If the word "FILLABLE" appears on the icon it is a Fill-In form; otherwise it is a Standard form. Of course, once a form is displayed in a Viewer, pressing TAB should move the cursor into the next field, but only for Fill-in forms.

How Do I Open PDF Files Downloaded from the Web with Mac Systems?

When a PDF file is downloaded from the web, the Mac Resource Fork is not included with the file. Therefore, the PDF icon will not be associated with the file, and you will not be able to double-click the file and have your Viewer automatically load and open the file. Simply open your PDF Viewer program and then use its Open Dialog to open the file.

Can I Save Copies of Filled-In Forms?

This is dependent upon the features provided by the PDF Program that you are using. Basic PDF Viewer Programs will likely not include this capability, while it is more likely to be available in the more advanced programs. Check your program's list of features, or research PDF Software on the Web to see if there are those that offer such functionality for your environment in your price range.

What Equipment Is Needed to Print Good Quality Forms?

Tests show that the posted forms can be successfully printed on dot matrix impact, ink jet, and laser printers. The best quality forms will be produced on inkjet and laser printers with a minimum of 300 DPI resolution. These should be of equal or better quality than first generation forms obtained from Auxiliary sources. Dot impact matrix printers are also usable, but produce lower quality reproductions. Quality will vary depending on printer type, inked ribbon age, and paper quality. Some 24 pin impact printers generate forms almost equal to 300 DPI inkjet printers, while low-end 9 pin units produce very grainy but still readable forms.

How Can I Print a Form Without Printing the Instructions?

Forms posted on this website include any instruction pages that are included with the original paper form. Repeated printing of the instruction pages is surely often unnecessary. Most PDF printing programs provide a Print option that allows the user to print only selected pages. Typically, to do this, select FILE and then PRINT, from the menu bar. There likely should be an option whereby you can enter either the starting and/or ending page numbers that are to be printed, or a list of the only page(s) to be printed, separated by commas if more than one.

Why Do I Receive a Password Protection Error When Opening Form Files?

Some combinations of computers and operating systems result in a password protection error when trying to access form files. Most often, this error has been reported to occur when selecting to open a PDF File through some other interface, such as MyComputer. The problem may be circumvented by opening your PDF Viewer program first and using it's Open Menu to locate and open the form file.

Why Does My PDF File Open in "PREVIEW" - MAC Users and other Windows browsers with their own proprietary PDF viewers? THIS ALSO APPLIES TO WINDOWS BROWSERS LIKE FIREFOX AND CHROME!

The MAC with System OSX (latest system 10) has a catchall program that does a little of everything like text, graphics, movies, etc. etc. It is capable of a lot but master of none. It is like Notepad on the PC, very limited in what it can do. In Preview the user can see the PDF but none of the automation works and all hidden objects are printed. This only happens if Preview is set to open all pdf files and you just double-click the pdf to open it. It will open with whatever is set to open your pdf files on your computer. Some call it paired to an application. (This is often the case on new MACs or a new System install.)

Here are some fixes:

  1. Open your PDF Viewer first and use the File/Open Menu to open the form file. That should override the default pairing.
  2. Drag and drop the form file onto the PDF Viewer icon and it should do the same as in 1 above.
  3. However, the recommended approach is to change the default pairing. The Installer should have done that but apparently did not.

If you are still having an error please try the below:

First select a PDF file and then open the "Get Info" box with: Menu File/Get Info or type AppleKey-I (that is hold down the command key next to the spacebar and type an I). Or control-click and select "get Info" (not "Open with..."). Down in the middle of the Get Info window is a popup selector to "Open with...".Select yout PDF program and that should set THIS FILE to always open with that program. You must also click the button below it to "Change All" Files of this type to use the same program.

Note: There are two other ways to get a menu choice "Open with":

  1. Menu File/Open With
  2. Control-click and select Open With

These are not what we want even though there is a choice at the bottom for "Other..." that also shows a checkbox on the bottom to "Always Open with". This Note only applies to this one file and not all your PDF files in the future.

Once you get rid of that undesired default pairing, all should be ok.

Note: for those that have both Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader, you can set the default to either one of those two for convenience.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: February 14, 2014