Learn about common issues and solutions to troubleshoot PDFs that won't open.

Common issues

Many factors can prevent a PDF from opening in Adobe Reader or Acrobat, including these:

  • The PDF is damaged. 
  • The Reader or Acrobat installation or update is damaged.
  • Reader or Acrobat is out of date.
  • File type is unrecognizable.
  • PDFs were created with non-Adobe programs. 

Try the suggestions below as your first troubleshooting steps.

PDF-file solutions

Here are the most common issues having to do with the PDF file itself, and solutions to resolve the issues.

Password-protected PDFs

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

Solution: 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. 

Suspicious PDFs

Issue: Reader and Acrobat block PDFs that do not conform to certain industry-specific PDF standards. For example, Reader and Acrobat block PDFs that can allow potentially harmful content to load, or PDFs created with bad syntax (set of rules for programming language).

Solution: 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 website you downloaded it from, to make sure the document is safe to open, then proceed to the rest of the troubleshooting steps.

Non-compliant PDFs

Issue: PDFs created from non-Adobe products don't always comply with the complete PDF specification, and therefore do not open in Reader or Acrobat. In addition, earlier versions of Reader or Acrobat are not as strict as newer versions in their compliance to PDF standards. So even though you could open a particular PDF in an older version of the app, you may not be able to open it in the latest version.

Solution: 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.

For Reader, see Reader older versions. You can revert to an older version of Acrobat if you have a serial number for that version. For installers, go to Acrobat 8 and 9 or Acrobat XI and X.

Reverting to an older version requires first uninstalling the version of Acrobat or Reader currently on your drive.

Damaged file

Issue: Sometimes a PDF file becomes damaged or contains corrupt data.

Solution: If you downloaded the PDF from the Web or received it in an email, download the PDF again or ask the sender to resend it. Copy the file directly to your hard drive, rather than to a thumb (portable) or network drive. Then, open the new copy directly from your hard drive. 


If the explanations above do not solve your issue, submit your sample file using the Feature Request/Bug report form.

Reader, Acrobat, OS settings solutions

If you've determined the PDF is not damaged or non-compliant, try the following steps to ensure that Reader or Acrobat is up to date and not damaged:

  • Update to the latest "dot" release (from 15.006 to 15.008, for example).
  • Repair the installation.
  • Reinstall using the latest version.
  • Ensure that the operating system can recognize PDFs. 

Update Reader or Acrobat

Adobe releases regular security updates for Reader and Acrobat. The latest update patch frequently fixes conflicts with your system.

  1. Open Reader or Acrobat.

  2. Choose Help > Check for Updates.

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

    Click Yes in the Updater dialog box
  4. Restart your computer.

Repair Reader or Acrobat (Windows only)

Reader or Acrobat, or the resources they rely on, could be damaged. Repairing the installation is a quick troubleshooting safeguard.


You cannot repair the 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.

Repair using Control Panel

You can repair your product installation by choosing Help > Repair [product] Installation, but the Control Panel method shown here sometimes provides better results. 

  1. Close Reader or Acrobat.

  2. Windows 7: Choose Start > Control Panel.

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

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

    • (Windows 10/8/7/Vista) Click Programs, and then click Programs and Features.
    • (Windows XP) Double-click Add or Remove Programs.

    In the list of programs, select Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat.

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

    Click Change

Repair from within Reader or Acrobat

Choose Help > Repair Installation.

Choose Help Repair Installation

Reinstall using the latest version

Reinstalling Acrobat or Reader is a two-step process. First uninstall the app, and then reinstall the latest version. 

  1. Uninstall Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader.

  2. Reinstall Acrobat or Reader using the latest version.

Ensure that your operating system 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

To configure Windows to open PDFs with Reader or Acrobat, do the following:

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

    Right click choose Open With
  2. Choose Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat in the list of programs, and then do the following:

    On Windows 7 and earlier: Select Always use the selected program to open this kind of file.

    On Windows 8: Select Use this app for all .pdf files.

    On Windows 10: Select Always use this app to open .pdf files.

    Choose Default Program
    Choose another app in Windows 10
    Windows 10

  3. Click OK.

Mac OS users

To configure Mac OS X to open PDFs with Reader or Acrobat, do the following:

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

  2. Choose File > Get Info.

    Choose File, 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).

    Click the triangle next to Open With
  4. Click Change All.

More solutions

A system freeze or an error message indicates a specific problem with your computer or the installation process. To troubleshoot further, see the TechNote associated with the error in the table below. If your error does not appear in the table, type the error into the Search box at the top of this page, then press Enter or Return. 

Symptom or error TechNote or solution
  • A blank or flickering dialog box
  • A frozen cursor or screen, or a blue screen
  • An unexpected restart
  • An error such as a STOP “Fatal System Error” or “Application” error
  • An error that mentions a module or memory
Errors and freezes | Adobe Reader | Windows
  • A blank or flickering dialog box
  • A frozen cursor or screen
  • A spinning wheel mouse cursor
  • An error such as "The application 'Adobe Reader' has unexpectedly quit"
Errors and freezes | Adobe Reader | Mac OS
Installation starts but a frozen cursor, frozen screen, or error message interrupts startup. Installation interrupted | Acrobat 9, Reader 9

Error 1402 | Error 1406 | Acrobat, Reader
Can't view a PDF in a web browser, or the PDF opens outside the browser.

Troubleshoot viewing PDF files on the web
Error: The file is damaged and could not be repaired. Forum post

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