Many factors can prevent a PDF from opening in Adobe Reader or Acrobat. Try the following suggestions as your first troubleshooting steps, or refer to the topics below for additional information.

You cannot repair a damaged PDF itself. However, if you have the source file, you can re-create the PDF using an Adobe product, such as Acrobat or Photoshop Elements.

Open a PDF in your browser

Try this if you’re having trouble opening a specific PDF on a web page. This won’t work for other PDFs.

  1. Right-click (Windows) or control-click (Mac OS) the link to the PDF file.

  2. 2. Choose the appropriate save or download option for your browser:

    • (Google Chrome) Save Link As
    • (Internet Explorer) Save Target As
    • (Firefox) Save Link As
    • (Safari) Download Linked File
  3. Make sure Adobe Acrobat Document is selected for the file type, and save the file.


    If you don't see a Save As dialog box, your browser may have downloaded the file automatically, possibly in a separate downloads window.

  4. Locate the saved PDF, and double-click the file to open it. If your browser opened a downloads window, double-click the PDF in the downloads list.

Update Reader or Acrobat

Adobe releases regular security updates for Reader and Acrobat. Do the following to see if the latest update patch might solve the issue:

  1. Open Reader or Acrobat.

  2. Select Help > Check for Updates.

    Check for updates
  3. If the Updater dialog box appears, click Yes. The update will automatically install.

    Update Acrobat
  4. Restart your computer.

Repair Reader or Acrobat (Windows only)

Reader or Acrobat—or the resources they depend upon—could be damaged. Try fixing the problem using one of these methods:

Repair using Control Panel

  1. Close Reader or Acrobat.

  2. Do one of the following:

    (Windows 10/8) On the taskbar, right-click the Start button and choose Control Panel.

    (Windows 7/XP) Choose Start > Control Panel.

    Control Panel
  3. Do one of the following in Control Panel, depending on your version of Windows:

    • (Windows 10/8/7) Click Programs, and then click Programs and Features.
    • (Windows XP) Double-click Add or Remove Programs.
  4. In the list of programs, select Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat.

  5. Click Change and follow the instructions to repair the application. When the process is complete, click Finish.

Repair from within Reader or Acrobat

Choose Help > Repair Installation.

Repair Installation

Remove and reinstall Acrobat or Reader

  1. First, uninstall Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader.

  2. Next, reinstall the latest version of Acrobat or Reader.

Make sure your OS recognizes the PDF

Your system may not be set up to automatically open PDFs from the desktop with Reader or Acrobat. Here's how to set it up:

Windows users

  1. Right-click the PDF, choose Open With > Choose default program (or Choose another app in Windows 10).

    Choose default program
  2. Choose Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat in the list of programs, and then do one of the following:

    • (Windows 7 and earlier) Select Always use the selected program to open this kind of file.
    • (Windows 8) Select Use this app for all .pdf files.
    • (Windows 10) Select Always use this app to open .pdf files.
    Choose default program
    Choose default program
  3. Click OK.

Mac OS users

  1. Click the PDF file's icon in the Finder to select it.

  2. Choose File > Get Info.

    Get Info
  3. Click the triangle next to Open With, and choose Adobe Acrobat Reader or Adobe Acrobat from the pop-up list (if your preference is not on the list, choose Other to select it).

    Choose default program
  4. Click Change All.

Other issues you may encounter

Viewing password-protected PDFs

The creator of a PDF can add password security to a document to prevent unauthorized users from viewing the PDF.

To open this type of document, enter the password when prompted. If the PDF creator has not shared the password with you, you cannot open the PDF.

Handling suspicious PDFs

Reader and Acrobat block PDFs that do not conform to certain industry-specific PDF standards, or may contain potentially harmful content.

Be cautious. These PDFs can pose a security risk to your system. Double-check with the source of the doc, such as the person who sent it to you or the website you downloaded it from, to make sure the document is safe to open, then proceed with the rest of the troubleshooting steps.

PDFs won’t display on the web

When you try to view a PDF on a website, you see one of the following:

  • A blank page in your browser
  • A red X icon 
  • A broken-link indicator (a red square, a blue triangle, or a blue circle) 
  • The error message: "The Adobe Acrobat/Reader that is running cannot be used to view PDF files in a web browser. Adobe Acrobat/Reader version 8 or 9 is required. Please exit and try again."

Try the solutions beginning at the top of this page, and if you still can’t view the PDF, view Troubleshoot viewing PDF files on the web.

Opening PDFs created with older, or non-Adobe products

PDFs created with non-Adobe products or earlier versions of Reader or Acrobat may not open in Reader or Acrobat.

If you trust the creator of the PDF and its origin, consider reverting to an earlier version of Reader or Acrobat to open the PDF. Reverting to an older version requires first uninstalling the version of Acrobat or Reader currently on your drive.

(Reader) See Reader older versions.

(Acrobat) See Acrobat 8 and 9 or Acrobat XI and X.

Opening PDFs created with InDesign or Illustrator

You get an error message when trying to open a PDF created in InDesign or Illustrator.

Solution 1: Export or save in Adobe PDF format

For InDesign

  1. Choose File > Export.

  2. For Save As Type, select Adobe PDF, then click Save.

  3. Select the desired PDF options.

  4. Click Export.

For Illustrator

  1. Choose File > Save As.

  2. For Save As Type, select Adobe PDF, then click Save.

  3. Select the desired PDF options.

  4. Click Save PDF.

Solution 2: Print to Adobe PDF

For InDesign and Illustrator

  1. Choose File > Print.

  2. Select Adobe PDF [version] from the Printer list.

  3. Select the desired printer options.

  4. Click Print.

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