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There may be many reasons if you cannot open PDFs. Here are some common issues and solutions provided to troubleshoot PDF’s if they don’t open.

Common issues

There may be many factors preventing a PDF from opening in Adobe Reader or Acrobat, including:

  • The PDF itself is damaged.
  • Reader or Acrobat is not up to date.
  • Reader or Acrobat installation or update is corrupted and damaged.
  • File type is not recognizable.
  • PDFs are created with non-Adobe programs.


PDF-file solutions

Below some common issues related to the PDF file itself are enlisted along with their solutions.

  1. Password-protected PDFs

Issue: To prevent unauthorized users from viewing the PDF, the creator of a PDF may add password security to a document.

Solution: You need to enter the password when prompted to open this type of document. You cannot open the PDF if the PDF creator has not shared this password with you.

  1. Damaged file

Issue: Sometimes, issues may encounter if a PDF file contains corrupt data or becomes damaged.

Solution: If you have received PDF file in an email or downloaded it from the Web, ask the sender to resend it or download the PDF once again. Instead of copying the file thumb (portable) or network drive, copy it directly to your hard drive and then access the new copy directly from your hard drive.

  1. Non-compliant PDFs

Issue: PDFs created from other than Adobe products may not always comply with the complete PDF specification, so they may not open in Reader or Acrobat. In addition to that newer versions of Reader or Acrobat are strict in their compliances to PDF standards in comparison to earlier versions of Reader or Acrobat. So you may not be able to open a particular PDF it in the latest version even though you have opened it in an older version of the app.

Solution: It is recommended to you that revert to an earlier version of Acrobat or Reader to open the PDF if you trust the creator of the PDF and its origin.

Important Note: To revert to an older version of Reader or Acrobat, you need to uninstall the version currently installed on your drive.

  1. Suspicious PDFs

Issue: Acrobat or Reader blocks those PDFs which do not conform to particular industry-specific PDF standards. For example, Reader and Acrobat programs may block those PDFs which are created with bad syntax or may load potentially harmful content.

Solution: As these PDFs may pose a security risk to your system so you need to be really careful. Cross-check with the source of the doc, such as the website from where you are downloading it and the person who has sent it to you. Before opening the document, make sure that it is safe to open and then carry out rest of the troubleshooting steps.

Reader, Acrobat, OS settings solutions

If you’ve found that the PDF is not damaged or non-compliant, make sure that Reader or Acrobat is not damaged and it is up-to-date. To make sure that, try the following steps:

  • Update to the latest “dot” release (for example, from 15.006 to 15.008).
  • Repair the installation.
  • Reinstall the Reader or Acrobat using the latest version.
  • Make sure that the operating system is able to recognize PDFs.
  1. Update Reader or Acrobat

Adobe releases security updates for Reader and Acrobat on regular basis. These latest update patches frequently fixes conflicts and issues with your system.

  • Open Reader or Acrobat.
  • Select Help > Check for Updates.
  • When the Updater dialog box comes up, click Yes to automatically install the update.
  • Restart your computer.
  1. Repair Reader or Acrobat (Windows only)

It may be possible that that Reader or Acrobat, or the resources these two rely on may be damaged. A quick troubleshooting safeguard is to repair the installation.

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

Repair using Control Panel

By choosing Help > Repair [product] Installation, you can repair your product installation, but the Control Panel method described below provides better results sometimes.

  • Close Reader or Acrobat.
  • Windows 7: Click Start > Control Panel.

Windows 8/10: Right-click the Start button on the taskbar and select Control Panel.

  • According to your version of Windows, do either of the following in Control Panel:

(Windows 10/8/7/Vista): Click Programs, and then Programs and Features.

(Windows XP): Double-click to Add or Remove Programs.

Choose Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat in the list of programs.

  • To repair the application, click Change and follow the instructions. Click Finish when the process is complete.

Repair from within Reader or Acrobat

  • Choose Help > Repair Installation.
  1. Reinstall using the latest version

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

  • Uninstall Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat.
  • Reinstall Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat using the latest version.

Make sure that your operating system is able to recognize the PDF

Your computer may not be set up to automatically open PDFs from the desktop with Reader or Acrobat. Have a look at how to set it up:

Windows users

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

  • Right-click the PDF, select Open With > choose default program (or “select another app” in Windows 10).
  • In the list of programs, select Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat and then do the following:

On Windows 7 and earlier: Choose the option “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file”.

On Windows 8: Choose the option “Use this app for all .pdf files”.

On Windows 10: Choose the option “Always use this app to open .pdf files”.

  • Click OK.

Mac OS users

Do the following to configure Mac OS X to open PDFs with Reader or Acrobat:

  • In the Finder, click the PDF file’s icon to select it.
  • Select File > Get Info.
  • Click the triangle next to Open With, and select Adobe Acrobat Reader or Adobe Acrobat from the pop-up list (select Other to select it if your preference is not on the list).
  • Click on the option Change All.

If you require any kind of technical help to fix the issues related to your PDFs or your version of Windows is not compatible with the format of the document, ask our experts valuable advice and get comprehensive support for Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, or Mac OS X.


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