Here’s What to Do When You Can’t Open PDF Format Files

Here's What to Do When You Can't Open PDF Format Files

An Adobe Systems engineer recently estimated that 2.5 trillion PDF format files exist. However, experts at the PDF Association suggest that this number could actually be up to four times higher.

With either estimate, you likely encounter PDFs frequently, and that’s because their advantages are many. PDF documents are convenient and secure. They also preserve graphic integrity. In other words, they maintain the format and layout of the original file.

If you can’t open a PDF, though, these benefits escape you. Fortunately, there are steps you can take when you can’t open PDF format documents.

Scenario One: You Can’t Open a PDF Format Document in Your Browser

Today, most browsers can easily handle opening a PDF file. Still, you might encounter a specific PDF that you just can’t open from your search results or from an email.

In that case, you can try downloading the file to your computer first using these steps:

  1. With your mouse over the PDF link, right-click for Windows or CTRL-click for Mac.
  2. Choose the option to “Save Link (or Target) As” or, on Safari, “Download linked file.”
  3. Check that “Adobe Acrobat Document” is selected as the file type, and click “Save.”
  4. Find the downloaded file on your computer, and double-click to open it.

Scenario Two: You Can’t Open a PDF Format Document on Your Computer

Perhaps you’ve tried the steps above. Or the troublesome PDF document was already saved to your computer. However, you’re still struggling to open it.

Once more, there are steps you can take. Each of the options below has the potential to solve your problem. After trying each solution below, try again to open your PDF format document.

Install Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is the only PDF reader that lets you interact with any PDF file type. You can download it for free from the Adobe Acrobat Reader download page.

Choose the option to “Download Acrobat Reader.” Then, when prompted, click “Install Now.”

Set Adobe Acrobat Reader DC as the Default PDF Owner

Even after you’ve downloaded Acrobat Reader, your system might not know to use it for PDF files. To fix this, you need to set Adobe Acrobat Reader DC as the default owner for this file type.

On Windows, take the following steps:

  1. Find the PDF, and right-click on it.
  2. Choose “Open with” and then “Choose default program.”
  3. Select Adobe Acrobat Reader DC from the list of options.
  4. Check the box to “Always” use the PDF app or to use it for “All” PDF files.
  5. Click “Ok.”

On a Mac, take the following steps:

  1. Select the PDF document in the Finder by clicking it once.
  2. From the “File” menu, choose “Get Info.”
  3. Click the triangle next to “Open with.”
  4. Choose Adobe Acrobat Reader, or if it’s not listed, click “Other” to select it.
  5. Select “Change All.”

Update Adobe Acrobat Reader

Adobe offers regular updates to enhance security and improve performance. It’s important to stay current on these updates. If you’re not yet running the latest version, installing updates might help.

To update the program, take the following steps:

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  2. From the “Help” menu, select “Check for Updates.”
  3. If an update is available and the updater dialogue box appears, click “Yes” to install it.
  4. When the update is finished installing, restart your computer.

Repair Adobe Acrobat Reader

Besides updating the program, you’re also able to repair your installation of Adobe Acrobat Reader. This can help if the program has been damaged.

To repair the program, take the following steps:

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  2. From the “Help” menu, select “Repair Installation.”

Other Possible Problems

In addition to the problems above, you might encounter a couple of other obstacles in opening PDFs. It’s helpful to be aware of these, as well.

Password Protection

You might encounter a PDF format document that is password protected. In that case, you’ll need to contact the owner for the password.

If you’re able to open a PDF document but can’t use all of its features, password protection might be the issue there too. If certain features or tools are restricted, they’ll be dimmed in the program. Again, you’ll need to contact the owner if you need access.

Suspicious Files

Adobe Acrobat products represent the industry standard for interacting with PDF files. Unfortunately, not all PDF format files conform to the same high standards. Some also contain content that could harm your computer.

Adobe Acrobat software is designed to protect you from these harmful files. It does so by blocking you from opening them. Attempting to evade these security protections is not wise. Instead, you should contact the owner of the document to learn more. If you found the file on a website, investigate that site and its owners further before proceeding.

You’re In!

Hopefully, you’ve found success with the steps above. You’re into the PDF document! Now what?

After losing time learning how to open a document, you might be looking for ways to save time while reviewing its content. Searching for specific words or phrases is one of the best ways to do just that.

With various online resources and apps, you can learn how to search a PDF quickly and effectively. With these tools, you can search for keywords in one PDF or many. You can even search through folders containing PDF documents.

The best PDF search apps even rank your search results based on the number of times the keyword appears.

Finally, the best PDF search apps do more than search. In fact, the best let you highlight, underline, and annotate PDFs too.

Navigate PDF Format Files with the Flexibility of, Well, an Acrobat

Using the information and resources above, you’ll be flying through PDF format content with the greatest of ease. With time you’ll save, you can be even more productive at work and at home. You can also use some of the time you save to explore other time-saving tech solutions. Our blog is the best place to do that. Check out the rest of our content today!