Opening PDFs

You can open a PDF in many ways: from within the Acrobat application, from your email application, from your file system, or on a network from within a web browser.


The Organizer and Organizer-related commands are not available in Acrobat X and later.

Open a PDF in the application

  1. Start Acrobat and do one of the following:

    • Open a file from the Home > Recent view.

    • Choose File > Open. In the Open dialog box, select one or more filenames, and click Open. PDF documents usually have the extension .pdf.


    If more than one document is open, you can switch between documents by choosing the document name from the Window menu.

Open a PDF from the desktop or within another application

  1. Do one of the following:
    • To open a PDF attached to an email message, open the message and double-click the PDF icon.

    • To open a PDF linked to an open web page, click the PDF file link. The PDF usually opens in the web browser.

    • Double-click the PDF file icon in your file system.


    In Mac OS, you sometimes cannot open a PDF created in Windows by double-clicking the icon. Instead, choose File > Open With > Acrobat.

Open a PDF in a web browser

When PDFs open in a web page, they open in Read mode. Read mode displays the PDF without the menus, panes, or toolbars visible. Near the bottom of the window, a floating toolbar appears with basic functionality for viewing document.

  • To show the toolbar, roll your cursor near the bottom of the window.
  • To page through the PDF, use the navigation buttons in the toolbar.
  • To close Read mode and display the work area, click the Acrobat icon  in the toolbar.
  • To disable Read mode within the browser, open the Acrobat or Reader Preferences (in Windows, choose Edit > Preferences, in Mac OS, choose Acrobat / Acrobat Reader > Preferences). Select Internet from the left pane. Deselect Display In Read Mode By Default.

If you have more than one Adobe PDF application on your computer, you can specify which one is used to open PDFs. See the Select Default PDF Handler in General preferences.

About viewing PDFs in a web browser

Options in the web browser control how you view a PDF, either within the browser or directly in Acrobat or Reader. To change the current display behavior, see the browser documentation on managing add-ons or plug-ins. If you open PDFs in Acrobat outside the browser, you cannot use the preference Allow Fast Web View in a browser.

Because keyboard commands can be mapped to the web browser, some Acrobat shortcuts cannot be available. Similarly, you may need to use the tools and commands in the Acrobat toolbar rather than the browser toolbar or menu bar. For example, to print a PDF document, use the Print button in the Acrobat toolbar rather than the Print command in the browser. (In Microsoft Internet Explorer, you can choose File > Print, Edit > Copy, and Edit > Find On This Page on the Internet Explorer toolbar.)


Having multiple versions of Acrobat or Adobe Reader installed on the same computer is not recommended. Mixed versions on your system can prevent you from viewing PDFs in a web browser. Examples include Acrobat XI with Adobe Reader X, or Acrobat 9 with Reader XI, and so on. For more information about coexisting installations, see this TechNote.

Internet preferences

Display In Read Mode By Default

Select to display PDFs in the browser without the menus, panes, or toolbars visible.

Allow Fast Web View

Select to allow page-at-a-time downloading for PDFs that have been saved with Fast Web View enabled. With Fast Web View turned on, a web server can send just the requested page, rather than the entire PDF.

Allow Speculative Downloading In The Background

Choose to allow the browser to continue downloading PDF pages from the web, even after the first page displays.

Connection Speed

Choose a connection speed from the menu. The connection speed helps Acrobat or other media provide a smooth display when content is read on the Internet.

Internet Settings [or Network Settings]

Click to open the Internet or network connection dialog box or panel for your computer. For more information, consult your operating system Help, your Internet service provider, or your local network administrator.

Reopen PDFs from the last Acrobat session

Acrobat can automatically reopen PDFs from the last session on launch. To set the preference, do the following:

  1. In Acrobat, go to Edit > Preferences (Windows), or Acrobat > Preferences (Mac).

  2. In the left pane, select General, and then select the Open PDFs From Last Session On Acrobat Launch check box.

    Open PDFs from last session on Acrobat launch

  3. Click OK.

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