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PDF won’t open? How to fix ‘PDF files not opening’ error

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3. Ask the sender to resend the file if it is damaged

This is not a very common problem, but it’s possible that the program that was used to make the PDF file did not create it perfectly. At times, the PDF file may also contain corrupt data.

Moreover, if the file was transferred using a USB or website, chances are that it may not have transferred to the stick or uploaded to the website perfectly.

The easiest way to ascertain this is to try opening another PDF file and if it opens, then you’ll know that the file in question is damaged. The easiest solution is to ask the sender to resend the file.


We’ve written about damaged PDF files before. Bookmark this page in case you need it later.


4. Revert to an earlier version for non-compliant PDFs

adobe reader

At times you may try to open several PDF files on your Windows 10 PC and they fail to open because they were created from non-Adobe products.

PDF files created from non-Adobe products don’t always comply with the PDF standards and specifications hence do not open in Adobe Acrobat or Reader.

Also, earlier versions of Adobe Acrobat or Reader are not as strict as the newer versions. So, when using the latest version you might not be able to open a PDF file that you used to open in the older version of the app.

If you trust the creator of the file and its origin, then you should consider reverting to an earlier version of Acrobat or Reader to open the file.

Reverting to an older version will require you to first uninstall the version of the Reader or Acrobat currently on your drive.


5. Repair program installation

pdf_files_repair

Adobe Acrobat or Reader, or the resources they rely on could be damaged, hence unable to execute their functions effectively. The solution here is to repair the installation.

You can use the control panel to perform the repair procedure or open the program and choose Help > Repair program installation which is easier.

Most of the problems you will encounter when opening PDF files will be due to one of the cases discussed above. It’s also important to ensure that your operating system recognizes PDF.

For instance, Microsoft Edge is not only the default browser in Windows 10 but also the default PDF reader. You can change that so as to make Reader or Acrobat your default PDF reader.


The above solutions will help you address the issue with PDF files that won’t open after you have upgraded your system.

Did you find this article useful? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments section below.


FAQ: Learn more about opening PDF files in Windows 10

  • Why PDF file is not opening?

Damaged PDF files the most common causes of this issue. In our quick guide, you can find solutions for PDF files that are not opening.

  • Why PDF is not opening in Outlook?

We have compiled the applicable solutions to this menacing problem and you can follow our guide if your PDF is not opening in Outlook.

  • Why can’t I install Adobe Reader?

The install file might be broken. Read our guide and follow these easy solutions if you can’t install Adobe Reader.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2016 and was revamped and updated in January 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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