Why can't I open a PDF

Many factors may prevent a PDF from opening in your browser or computer. Try these troubleshooting suggestions.

Can't open PDF in the browser

Most modern web browsers can easily open PDFs. If you’re having trouble opening a specific PDF on a web page, do the following.

Download the PDF and open it in Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Reader

  1. Right-click (Windows) or command-click (macOS) the link to the PDF file to open the context menu.

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

    • (Chrome, Edge, 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.

Can't open PDF on computer

If your PDF file is corrupt or damaged and won't open, you cannot directly repair it. You can recreate it with the original source file using Adobe Acrobat or Photoshop Elements. If you cannot open a PDF, follow the troubleshooting steps below in the order they appear.

Install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer

If you have Acrobat Reader or Acrobat installed on your computer, skip to the next step.

Acrobat Reader is the only free PDF viewer that can open and interact with all types of PDF content – including forms and multimedia.

Go to the Adobe Acrobat Reader download page, and then select Download Acrobat Reader. For step-by-step instructions, see Download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader for Windows or Mac OS.

After the installation is complete, follow the steps in the next section.

Set Acrobat Reader or Acrobat as the default PDF owner

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

Windows users

  1. Right-click the PDF, choose Open With > Choose another app.

  2. Choose Adobe Acrobat Reader or Adobe Acrobat in the list of programs, and then select Always use this app to open .pdf files.


    If you have both Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer, choose Adobe Acrobat.

  3. Select OK.

macOS users

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

  2. Choose File > Get Info.

  3. Select Open With, and choose Adobe Acrobat Reader or Adobe Acrobat from the drop-down list (if your preference isn't on the list, choose Other to select it).

  4. Choose Change All.

Update Acrobat Reader or Acrobat

Adobe releases regular security updates for Acrobat Reader and Acrobat. Installing the latest updates might solve the issue. To update, Acrobat Reader or Acrobat, select Help > Check For Updates and follow the on-screen instructions.

Repair Acrobat Reader or Acrobat (Windows only)

Acrobat Reader or Acrobat—or the resources they depend upon—could be damaged. Run repair from within Acrobat Reader or Acrobat: Choose Help > Repair Installation

Still need help

Symptom or error

TechNote or solution

Can't open a password-protected PDF

Opening 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.

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


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Adobe MAX 2024

Adobe MAX
The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX

The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online