How to Open a PDF File in Windows and MAC – Download Free PDF Viewers

  • File Type: Adobe Portable Document Files Format
  • File Extension: .pdf
  • Mime type: application/pdf
  • File Format: Document files
  • Description: Portable document format files


Are you having difficulties in opening a pdf ? Read this full guide about what is the pdf format and how to open a pdf document online, in any operating system: Windows, MAC, Android, Linux and IOS.

You must get a pdf viewer. Viewers are software tools that let you view your pdfs.


What is a .PDF file?

A .PDF file extension, is a file with the .pdf suffix added to the file name. This file suffix corresponds to the popular pdf format for saving large text and picture documents from Adobe Acrobat.

Some of these PDF documents types include; academic papers, huge legal case files, contractual agreements, resumes, invoices, bank e-statements and also school homework. This file format offers users seamless accessibility, legibility and transferability.

The file extension pdf is compatible with various operating systems, hardware and application software. These files are based on the PostScript language. Each encapsulating a complete description of a fixed-layout flat document including these file types:

  • Raster images.
  • Vector graphics.
  • Fonts.
  • Text.
  • Other required information for displaying the content.


PDF files can also contain three-dimensional objects. Using PRC or U3D, different data formats, rich media like video content, layers, form-fields, annotation and several other interactive elements and logical structuring elements.

Today, the specification equally enables digital signatures and encryption, metadata and files attachments towards enabling workflows that require these features.

The PDF file extension is for cross-platform documents created using the Adobe Acrobat software or any program that comes with the Acrobat plug-in.

These files may contain images, text, annotations, forms, outlines as well as other pieces of data. These also preserve fonts and may be electronically formatted across multiple platforms.


You can also safeguard documents by saving them in file extension PDF and using encrypted user passwords. This ensures that your documents can only be viewed by individuals only upon inputting the correct password.

The Portable document format file is therefore a very secure format. Especially if you want to send confidential files and documents across the Internet via email. 

PDF documents may also be saved as read only files or as editable documents. It is versatile with an easy to use and flexible user interface. It definitely offers users a lot of useful features and options. 

How to open pdf files

How to open PDF Files in Windows PC, MAC and Android: Free PDF Viewers

You need a pdf viewer to open a pdf file. We will see some programs to view and manage PDF documents.

If you want to  read and view these PDF on devices using Windows operating system, such as a Personal Computer, you will first need install a .PDF viewer.


Adobe Acrobat Reader DC For Windows 

Adobe reader should always be your first option for a PDF viewer.  This is a software application that is capable of opening and view a pdf format in many operating systems.  If you don’t have this software, you can download the free trial on the official Adobe Website.  

  • In the next screen, select Download acrobat reader

  • After a few seconds the download will start
  • When the download is finished you will see a direct access in your windows.
  • See image below and double click on the file in the lower left side of your screen.

  • The installation of the program will start and you will see the progress.
  • As soon as you have installed Adobe Acrobat Reader DC on your Windows PC, you will be able to view and read a PDF file. You will also be able to save documents in this format.
  • Below are step-by-step instructions on how you can use it to open a portable document format file.
  • First click on your installed program (this apply to another type of PDF viewer).

  • From the main screen you can select many options.
    1. Click on Set as default if you want adobe Acrobat to be your default pdf viewer for your pdf.
    2. Click on open file to edit quicky a .pdf file document
    3. Select edit PDF to edit text and images of a portable document file format.
  • Go to the “File” drop-down menu located at the top left hand corner of the application’s window. 

  • Click on the “Open” option, then scroll to where the portable document format files may be located on your PC or other Window device.
  • Then, Click on the name to select it.

  • Click on the button labelled “Open” to have the files accessible for reading. 
  • Now you can view it!


Adobe Acrobat reader for Android

There are devices with Android OS which can allow you to open the files with .pdf extension even without an installed app.

However, there are also those Android OS devices like tablets and smartphones, which require you to install a particular app or apps. This will be necessary before you can be able to view these pdf with ease. 

It should be mentioned that many of the new smartphones and tablets are designed with in-built PDFs viewers.  Where your Android device does not come with it, you will have to install an app. 

You can also install Acrobat Reader on your Android device. You simply need to go to Google Play Store to download this app. 

  1. If you are interested in getting the beginners version of this app from Google Play Store, click here.
  2. For the professional version which has a filter feature for search results you can click here to download. The pro version is also free of pop-up ads.

Note that installation is quick and the app size is moderate. In addition, the app comes with a variety of user options.  These features include; zoom, scroll, night-time mode, brightness lock and customer support search options.  You can also append your signature to PDF files, while documents may be printed directly on Google Cloud Print.

To read, view and open it directly from an installed app, you will have to comply with the following instructions;

  1. Go to the Acrobat Reader app on your Android mobile device and tap the “Menu” option.
  2. Tap on the “Documents” folder.
  3. Once you are in the “Documents” folder, you will see every available portable document format on your Android device. 
  4. Tap on it and the Adobe Acrobat app will do the rest.


Microsoft Word

Microsoft word is also a pdf viewer. It can open a pdf file by default. What word do to work as a pdf viewer is to convert it to (.DOC), a word compatible format.

These are all the steps:

  1. Launch Word.
  2. Go to the menu File – Open
  3. Select your PDF file and double click on it.
  4. Word Copy the PDF to a new word while you keep the original PDF.
  5. Now you can edit the PDF as a word document.


Google Drive

Google drive is another free PDF viewer that you can use for free with a google account. With is very easy to share pdfs with your friends and coworkers.


Google Chrome

Chrome also supports PDF files with his inbuilt pdf viewer and with a chrome extension.

These are the steps to view this format in Chrome:

  1. Open your chrome browser
  2. Go to the web browser Plug-ins section
  3. Find Chrome PDF viewer.
  4. Click on Enable.
  5. Now whenever you find this format Chrome will display it.
  6. You can also draf your PDF to chrome and you will view it in your browser.


In Windows you can do it by right clicking on your document and select Chrome PDF viewer in the drop down menu. Also, it is possible to drag the document to the web browser window.

Moreover, you can search for a chrome extension.

PDFPro (Online)

PDFPro is an online free pdf viewer. Viewing pdfs is quick and easy.

  1. Go to
  2. You have two options to select your document:
    1. Drag your pdf document from your device to the “drag and drop PDF here”
    2. Click on the green button “Click to upload PDF”


pDF EScape (Online)

Another free pdf viewer online to open PDF. Viewing pdfs is easy.

  1. Go to
    1. Click on upload if you have the pdf in your device.
    2. Or Load from internet if you are using an online pdf document.


File Manager (Android)

  1. First visit the “File Manager” on your Android mobile device.
  2. Then, just go to the location of the files.
  3. Next, you need to tap on it.
  4. By tapping it, the Acrobat Reader opens it automatically on your Android mobile device.
  5. View your document


Using preview option (MAC)

The “Preview” feature is actually an in-built application. It allows you to view PDF (read only), that are on your Mac.

Here is how it’s done;

  1. First, select the file using the”Open Finder”option.
  2. By double-clicking the selected file, it will be displayed via “Preview”. However, the double-clicking option will only work where “Preview” has been selected as the default PDF viewer for your Mac PC.
  3. Alternatively, you need to right-click the selected file.
  4. Then highlight “Open With” and click the “Preview” option from there.


Foxit Reader for Desktop Linux (Linux)

For linux users you can use the Foxit reader from foxitsoftware



How to Convert a PDF File

Another option to open a pdf file is to convert it to another format.

The typical conversion is from PDF to DOC. There are many online converters online that can do it for free.


Why PDF Files won’t open?

You love using Adobe Reader on your Windows Desktop. However, not being able to access PDF while using an Adobe Systems tool or google chrome is extremely irritating.

As inventors of PDF format, Adobe has a relatively clear understanding of how to optimize users’ experience, especially when engaging in Acrobat premium models.

Why are troublesome?

One of the legit reasons behind the failure of some PDF documents is that the designers are more focused on producing good layouts rather than creating actual proofs. Don’t look at these; they’re going directly to the department or printer.

If designers focus more on open pdf files, then this type of errors can be solved. This means there is far more continuity between the supplied file and the original one.


Why won’t PDF files open? The Causes:

Several reasons prevent the pdf files from opening. We have listed them below:

  • The file you are trying to access is either corrupt or damaged.
  • One of the reasons your PDF file won’t open is that you might be using an outdated version of Adobe reader.
  • The installation process was not completed correctly.
  • The PDF document you are trying to access is from a non-Adobe program.


What’s the solution?

1.     Update Adobe Acrobat:

If you are using an outdated version of Adobe Acrobat, you may not be in a good position. Adobe regularly updates its Apps.

Of this purpose, we can only suggest you access the app from the official Adobe release website.

While there, pick the latest edition of the OS program, and push the Update Now icon. It is more likely that taking the new Update would resolve problems with the program. If the current one is corrupted, that will make a huge difference.

Besides, the new fixes and protection updates will keep Adobe Acrobat still working smoothly.


2.     Proper Installation:

There are several ways that a failed download can manifest itself. The process can refuse to begin when you start the download, or the download can end abruptly. The installation can even end with an error message until the full download of the installation package.

  • Attempt to resume download again. Before downloading, select the latest version of Adobe Acrobat from the drop-down list on the Downloads page.
  • Make sure you’re on secure internet service. Run a compatibility scan to ensure that nothing interferes with your connection, and then restart the Update.


3.     Ask the sender to resend the PDF file if it’s damaged:

This is not a particularly common issue, although it is likely that the software used to produce the PDF file didn’t correctly create it. The information in the PDF documents are sometimes damaged and corrupted.

Besides, if the document is sent via email or a website, then the root cause is that it may not be correctly uploaded.

You can check the credibility of the document and whether it is uncorrupted by simply opening another file. If that file opens, then you will know that the other one was corrupted.


4.     Use older version for non-adobe files:

Often on your Windows 10 PC, you can attempt to open multiple PDF files, and they struggle to open because they were produced from non-Adobe goods.

PDF documents produced by non-Adobe items do not always follow the PDF requirements and specifications. The reason is that the previous versions of Adobe reader are not so rigid as compared to the latest ones.

The file that you opened by using the older version cannot be opened with the latest version.  When you have an idea that the file maker is credible enough, then you can request them to switch to the older version of acrobat reader to open the file.

Moving back to an earlier version would allow you to uninstall the update that’s already installed on your drive.


5.     PDF not recognizable

In some instances, when submitted by e-mail, the file extension Microsoft Windows uses to define the file as a PDF can be omitted. Microsoft Windows won’t realize how to access this file because the file doesn’t finish in.pdf.  Below is some solution on how to fix this problem.

  • Save your PDF to your personal computer.
  • From the start menu, you can view the option to enable the browser for PDF.
  • Drag the saved PDF into the viewer from the laptop. If this file is uncorrupted and valid, it should be accessed.


Why PDF won’t open in Chrome

The main reason is that google Chrome downloads the document. To fix this just do the following steps:

  1. Open Google Chrome
  2. Click on settings
  3. Then, on Advanced.
  4. Click on Content Settings (you will find it in the securty and privacy section).
  5. Search for “PDF Documents”.
  6. Select the option. “Download PDF files instead of Automatically Opening them”.


If these steps don’t resolve the issue update your chrome version, use another browser or use adobe acrobat reader app.



Many of the difficulties you’ll find while opening PDF files are attributable to one of the above-described causes.

Another important factor is that your PC must have the software to recognize PDF files.

There is a drawback in Window’s 10 and that is it uses Microsoft Edge as the default PDF viewer. It would be best if you altered it to make Acrobat your default viewer.




How to open PDF files online

If you don’t want to download any program you can just view your pdf file online with an online pdf viewer. There are many options available like pdfpro or PDF escape

How to Make adobe acrobat your default PDF reader

If you want your .pdf documents to open always with acrobat you have to select it as your default reader. We are going to see the required steps to do it.

  1. Open the program.
  2. Click on Set as default on the right side of your screen (see image below).

  1. In the next screen select the program Acrobat Reader software


What Free PDF Editor should I choose?

There are many free pdf editors available to choose, all of them with great features. You should try the software to find out which one you like.

The options are:

  • Acrobat
  • Smallpdf
  • foxitpdf
  • Online editors and converters.


How to merge or combine PDF files

Sometimes you have more than one document and you want to merge or combine all of them. These are the required steps to follow.

  1. Identify which are the documents and files you want to merge or combine:
  2. Use an online merge tool like
  3. Use a software like SmallPDF


It is safe to delete a .PDF file ?

You can delete PDF files if you no longer need the document. It won’t crash anything.


Can’t Open a PDF file?

There are times the PDF file will refuse to open despite having the viewer already on your device.

This may happen if there is not association with the pdf viewer. Follow the steps below to associate the two:

  1. Right-click the pdf files on your device and click on “Open With“.
  2. Look for Adobe Reader in the drop-down menu and click on it.
  3. If there is no PDF files viewer on the list of programs, you can browse it on your device. You will usually find the Adobe Reader software at C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Reader.

Can’t view a specific .pdf file? Problems editing the file?

Just download another free viewer and try again.