How to Open a PDF

On modern systems such as Windows 10, you can read PDF documents very well in your web browser. Both Chrome and MS Edge are well suited to be your only PDF document reader. On OSX, the preview app works pretty well for this.

If you require something more full featured you can download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader or Foxit's free PDF reader. When installing these, be careful to only install the reader and say "no" to all options like tool bars. Also, especially for the Adobe reader, it adds several tasks to your start up folder. You should consider going to the startup tab to disable these for better overall system performance. Once installed you can simply double click on any proper PDF document and it will open. see below for some troubleshooting tips on why the PDF 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  • Reader or Acrobat is out of date. Update with our link at the top


  • File type is unrecognizable. Try our Document Placeholder converter to create a PDF.
  • PDFs were originally created with non-Adobe programs. This is normally unlikely at this stage.
  • Try the suggestions below as your first troubleshooting steps.

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.