Acrobat Reader Pdf Files Wont Open?

Dennis Faas's picture

Yesterday, Bill B. sent me a question regarding Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Wait a sec -- what is Adobe Acrobat Reader?

Acrobat Reader is a free-to-use tool which reads documents which contain the file extension ".PDF". The Portable Document Format has been around for quite some time and is supported by all major computer platforms (PC, Mac, Unix, OS/2, etc).

Acrobat is a popular pick among eBook developers because it provides many useful features, including: document encryption (IE: the ability to copy-protect all / certain aspects of a document), bookmarks, clickable links, clickable bookmark tabs, and much more. I personally use Acrobat to create all my eBooks, which is why I decided to answer Bill's question in today's issue of the Gazette. He writes:

" Hi. I Just subscribed to your newsletter and find it interesting! I have a problem opening .PDF files on some websites -- but not all. When I left-click the link to open the document (Acrobat Reader is already installed), all I get is an icon display in the upper left corner of my screen. The rest of the page is blank. Any explanation?"

My response:

In all probability, Bill's computer (IE: Internet Connection) is having difficulty downloading the .PDF file, which could have resulted in a blank display.

I base the above theory on my own experience with Acrobat Reader: whenever I click on a web page .PDF link, Acrobat Reader appears to launch well before the document commences download. Acrobat's loading algorithm was most likely set this way in order to "speed up" the document viewing process, assuming that: a) like most documents, eBook files are relatively small and can be downloaded quickly, and b) the connection to the web site is stable and does not produce time-outs (which would then result in a blank display).

Side note: the word "algorithm" is a commonly used computer "techy-term" which describes a method. For example, the method used to produce a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich can be thought of many different ways, but the end result is the same: a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich.

One way around Bill's dilemma is to obtain the .PDF document using an alternate download method:

  • Right click the web .PDF link (instead of a left-clicking it -- which would normally execute Acrobat Reader).  
  • Choose SAVE TARGET AS and save the PDF file to your computer, preferably the Desktop since it's easily accessible.  
  • Launch the document by double left-clicking it (assuming Acrobat has been installed already).

This will ensure two things:

  1. You'll know the file has been downloaded successfully, and  
  2. The file will be stored in a convenient place on your computer (Acrobat does not save the eBook unless you click the "save" icon once the eBook has launched).

What if the eBook still doesn't work (display) after it's been downloaded?

This is another question I've been asked quite a few times.

Here are 3 plausible answers:

  1. Try upgrading to a newer version of Acrobat Reader (especially if you received a window saying that the document couldn't be decrypted), or  
  2. The document or the device (IE: hard drive) containing the document is corrupt; try to obtain the file from another source, or run ScanDisk on the device containing the document.  
  3. The Acrobat Reader installation may have run amuck and requires a reinstall. This is the most least likely circumstance, but still possible.
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