How to Open PDF Files in Windows PC, MAC, Online and Android – Free PDF Viewers

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


Are you having difficulties in opening a pdf file ? Read this full guide about what is and how to open a pdf file online, in Windows, MAC, Android, Linux and IOS.


What is a .PDF file?

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

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


The Extension .PDF

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

  • 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 PDF 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 is therefore a very secure format. Especially if you want to send confidential files and documents across the Internet via email. 

PDF file documents may also be saved as read only files or as editable documents. The Portable Document Format 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

We will see some programs to view and manage these PDF files.

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


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 these files format in many operating systems.  If you don’t have this software, you can download the free trial on the official Adobe Website.  

On the Adobe website, you will be provided with clear instructions on how to download and install the app on your device. Make sure you adhere strictly to the instructions given.

  • 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.


  • This will ensure that the installation is done without any hitch. As soon as you have installed the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC on your Windows PC, you will be able to view and read PDF. You will also be able to save documents in this format.
  • With the program installed, you can now read and view portable document format files. Below are step-by-step instructions on how you can use it to open a portable document format file extension.
  • First click on your installed acrobat reader DC (this may also 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 reader.
    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 reader 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 documents with ease. 

It should be mentioned that many of the new smartphones and tablets are designed with in-built PDFs readers.  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 extension, while documents may be printed directly on Google Cloud Print.

To read, view and open it directly from an installed Adobe Acrobat Reader 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 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.


Google Drive

Google drive is another 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

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

These are the steps:

  • Open your chrome browser
  • Go to the web browser Plug-ins section
  • Find Chrome PDF viewer.
  • Click on Enable.

In Windows you can view a PDF 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 file here”
    2. Click on the green button “Click to upload PDF”


pDF EScape (Online)

Another free pdf viewer online. 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 Adobe 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 reader for your Mac PC.
  3. Alternatively, you need to right-click the selected file, 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 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 reader. 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, 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 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 Reader 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 it?

Just download another free viewer on windows, mac or android and try again.