[Full Repair Guide] Fixing PDFs That Won’t Open

[Full Repair Guide] Fixing PDFs That Won’t Open

/ Andrew Holdeman

Install the Latest Version of Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

install adobe acrobat

PDF (Portable Document Format) is a widely used file format for sharing documents. However, sometimes users may encounter problems opening PDF files. One potential solution to this problem is installing the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free software for viewing, printing, and commenting on PDF documents.

Installing the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader can help solve the problem of a PDF file not opening by ensuring compatibility, bug fixes, and new features. It’s always a good idea to keep your software up-to-date to ensure you can work with the latest file formats and enjoy the latest features.

Close Adobe Background Processes

When you try to open a PDF file, you may encounter an issue where the file won’t open, or the Adobe Acrobat Reader application may freeze or crash. One potential solution to this problem is to close the Adobe background processes running on your computer. Here’s how this solution can fix the problem:

The Adobe Acrobat Reader application launches and runs in the background when you open a PDF file. Any other Adobe processes running in the background could cause a conflict, leading to issues opening PDF files. Closing these processes may resolve the issue.

1. Press Win + X and select Task Manager.

2. Select processes that are related to Adobe Acrobat reader.

end all adobe acrobat tasks

3. Right-click and select End task.

Run Adobe Acrobat as an Administrator

When you run Adobe Acrobat Reader as an administrator, it gives the application elevated privileges that allow it to access all the necessary system resources required to open the PDF file. This can be helpful when the PDF file is stored in a system-protected location or when you don’t have sufficient permissions to access the file.

1. Right-click the Adobe shortcut icon and select Properties.

adobe acrobat properties

2. Go to the Shortcut tab and click on Advanced.

3. Check the Run as an Administrator box and click OK.

run adobe acrobat as administrator

Run Compatibility Mode

Compatibility mode is a feature in Windows that allows older programs to run on newer operating system versions. When you run Adobe Acrobat Reader in compatibility mode, it simulates an older version of Windows. It can help resolve compatibility issues preventing the PDF file from opening.

1. Right-click the Adobe shortcut icon and select Properties.

2. Go to the Compatibility tab, and check the Run this program in compatibility mode for box.

3. Click the drop-down menu and select your Windows version.

4. Click the Apply then an OK button.

set adobe acrobat compatibility mode

Disable the Protected Mode at Startup

Protected mode is a security feature in Adobe Acrobat Reader designed to prevent potentially malicious code from running inside the application. While this feature can help to keep your computer safe, it can also interfere with the normal functioning of the software, preventing you from opening PDF files.

1. Open Adobe Reader.

2. Click on the Edit menu and select Preferences.

adoobe acrobat preferences

3. Select System Enhance.

4. In the right pane, uncheck the Enable Protected Mode under Sandbox properties at the startup box.

enable enhanced protected mode in adobe acrobat

Repair Program Installation

Over time, the installation of Adobe Acrobat Reader can become corrupted or damaged, resulting in issues with opening PDF files. When you repair the program installation, it checks for and fixes any errors or issues in the program files, which can help to resolve any problems with opening PDF files.

This solution is especially helpful when you’ve recently updated Adobe Acrobat Reader or installed another program that may have interfered with the application’s installation. Repairing the program installation can help ensure the program is running smoothly and can open PDF files without any issues.

1. Open Acrobat Reader.

2. Click on the Help tab and select Repair installation.

repair installation in adobe acrobat

Outdated Adobe Reader or Acrobat

Updating Adobe Acrobat Reader to the latest version can help ensure you have the latest software with the latest features, bug fixes, and security updates. Installing the latest version allows you to take advantage of any improvements in PDF file handling that may have been introduced since your current version was released.

1. Open Acrobat Reader DC.

2. Click the Help tab.

3. Select Check for Updates.

update adobe acrobat

Install a PDF Reader

1. Right-click on the PDF file and select Open with.

2. Select Adobe acrobat reader and check the Always use this app to open .pdf files box.

allow adobe acrobat to open pdf

3. Click the OK button.

Ask the Sender to Resend the File if it is Damaged

A PDF file may not open correctly when it is damaged or corrupted. In some cases, the damage may be severe enough that the file is unreadable, and there is nothing that you can do to fix it on your end. In this case, the only option may be to ask the sender to resend the file.

When the sender sends the file again, there’s a chance it won’t be damaged, and you’ll be able to open it without any issues. By doing this, you’ll be able to confirm if the original file was the cause of the problem.

Using an Older Version of Adobe Reader or Acrobat

Sometimes, newer Adobe Reader or Acrobat versions may have compatibility issues with certain PDF files. This can be due to changes in how the software handles PDF files or changes to the application’s underlying code. Using an older software version, you can bypass these compatibility issues and open the PDF file without problems.

1. Open Control Panel.

2. Select Programs & Features.

3. Locate the Adobe acrobat program and uninstall it.

uninstall adobe acrobat

4. Go to the Adobe Official website and download the older windows version.

Checking if the PDF File Is Damaged

A corrupted or damaged PDF file may not open properly or at all. In some cases, the file may even be completely unreadable. If the PDF file is damaged, you may need to obtain a new copy of the file to open it successfully.

Here are the steps to follow to check if the PDF file is damaged:

1. Try to open the file in a different PDF reader program: Sometimes, the issue with opening a PDF file may be related to the specific PDF reader you’re using.

2. Verify the file extension: Make sure that the file extension is correct. PDF files should have a .pdf file extension. If the extension is incorrect, the file may not open properly.

3. Try opening a different PDF file: If you have another PDF file on hand, try opening it to see if the issue is with the software or the specific PDF file.

4. Check the file for damage: If the issue persists, it may be damaged. Use a file verification tool like the Adobe PDF File Association Registry Fixer to check the file for damage. If the file is found to be damaged, you may need to obtain a new copy of the file from the source.

Resize the PDF Files

A PDF file that is too large can cause issues when you try to open it in Adobe Acrobat Reader. This is because larger files may take longer to load and require more processing power than your computer can handle. As a result, the PDF file may not open or may take a long time to open.

Unlock PDF File

PDF files can be protected by a password or encryption, preventing unauthorized access to the file’s contents. However, if you don’t have the password or encryption key, you may be unable to open the file even if you have the correct software.

Revert to an Earlier Version for Non-compliant PDFs

Some PDF files are created with features not supported by the version of Adobe Acrobat Reader that you are using. In this case, the PDF file may not open or display incorrectly. Reverting to an earlier version of Adobe Acrobat Reader can help ensure you use a version compatible with the PDF file.

Frequently Asked Questions About PDFs Not Opening

Why Can’t I Open PDF?

The most common is that your computer does not have the necessary software installed to view it. You need Adobe Acrobat Reader or another compatible program to open a PDF. If you do not have Adobe Reader installed, try downloading and installing the latest version from their website. Another possibility is that the file itself is corrupted in some way.

How To Fix PDF Files Not Opening Error?

There are several ways to try and fix PDF files not opening errors. First, ensure the PDF is compatible with your version of Adobe Reader. If the file was created in an earlier version, it might not be supported by your current edition.

Andrew Holdeman
Meet the author

Andrew has extensive experience with a wide range of writing platforms and automation systems. He has spent over 6 years creating content and troubleshooting for various companies. He also enjoys spending time with his family and his fiancé, while staying active and healthy.