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Help with Opening PDFs

Having difficulties opening PDFs from Course Reserves, Interlibrary Loan, library databases, or other applications?  Try these troubleshooting tips.

Tips for Mac Users | Tips for Windows and Mac Users

Tips for Mac Users:

On Macs, the default viewer for PDFs is "Preview," however, Preview is not able to view PDFs with dynamic or interactive content.  Switching the default PDF viewer to Adobe Reader instead of Preview will often resolve PDF access issues on Macs.

How to make Adobe Reader the default PDF viewer on a Mac:

  1. Select any PDF file and choose: File -> Get Info
  2. From the Open With menu, select Adobe Reader (it is usually located in the Applications folder)
  3. Choose Change All, and then choose Continue.

See additional troubleshooting tips for specific browsers:

Tips for Windows or Mac users:

  • Google Chrome often offers the most seamless access to PDFs.

  • Try opening the PDF in a different browser (for example, try Firefox or Safari). Often one browser may not be configured correctly for PDFs but another will work.

  • Update Adobe Reader: Try uninstalling the Adobe Reader software from your computer, then download the newest version of Adobe Reader software.

  • Pop-up blockers may interfere with the viewing of PDFs. If you're having trouble viewing, you may want to disable any pop-up blockers that might be in effect.

  • Firewalls or security software may also interfere with access to PDF documents. Try temporarily disabling this software before opening an interlibrary loan document.


Contact the Library Service Desk at 503.943.7788, email, or use Library Chat.