What to Do If You Can’t Open PDF on iPhone

PDFs are files that should work on virtually every device. The file format is recognized as universal, so it is common to see people converting documents to PDFs because they know that another party who receives the file should have no problem opening it. Unfortunately, there are instances when PDFs do not open. One such example is among iPhone users. If you can’t open PDF on your iPhone, you still have plenty of methods to troubleshoot the issue. The most common causes and solutions to the problem will be mentioned below.


#1 – Damaged File

The problem behind a PDF file not opening could be related to the file itself. Before you blame your iPhone, consider whether the file you want to open is possible to open on other devices. Ask someone else if they can open the file. Malware might be the cause behind a corrupted PDF. Can PDFs have viruses? They certainly can, but the corruption might have been caused by your iPhone after you downloaded the PDF.

#2 – Problems With the Email App

If you are launching a PDF from an email, there might be some issues related to the browser or the email app itself. There are instances when an email app crashes constantly, and the frequency increases if you try to open email attachments.

#3 – Outdated Device

The lack of updates for the operating system is another example of a problem that can lead to various technical issues, including struggles to open PDFs.

#4 – Outdated Application

Similar to iOS updates, the app you are using to open PDFs also has different versions and missing updates on the application cause compatibility issues.

#5 – Redundant Elements in PDFs

Some people like to add markers, annotations, and other various things to PDFs. If such elements are necessary, then the additions can be justified. On the other hand, it is also important to note how overburdening a PDF can lead to problems opening it.


#1 – Scan for Malware

The first solution on the list is to scan for malware. If you do not have an antivirus app on your iPhone, get one.Use it to scan the PDF file. If the file has been corrupted by malware, you can try to save it using the antivirus tool. In some cases, you might be able to salvage the PDF. It is also worth noting that there are instances of false alarms. An iPhone does not want to open a PDF because it believes that the file is infected with malware. However, scanning the PDF with an antivirus app might show that the file is okay, and you can open it.

#2 – Try Restoring the File

If the PDF was corrupted by a cause other than malware, you should look for applications that can potentially fix corrupted files. Finding such tools on a smartphone can be a bit tricky, which means that you will need to stick to a computer, given how flexible it is.

#3 – Redownload the PDF

The odds are that the PDF is not opening correctly because it did not download the right way the first time. Sure, such instances are rare, but they can still happen due to poor internet connection and other factors. Delete the original file and redownload the PDF. If you took the file from an email attachment, get in touch with the sender and ask if they could resend the document.

#4 – Install Updates

As already mentioned, missing updates could be the problem. Check if your iPhone has the latest iOS version. If not, make sure to download and install it. The same thing applies to an application you are using to launch PDFs.

#5 – Restart Your Phone

Restarting the iPhone is a common solution to different technical issues. If you cannot open a PDF, restart the smartphone and wait for a bit, then try again. It is likely that there is a cache or other system junk preventing the device from functioning properly. A restart ought to fix that.

#6 – Try Opening the PDF via Apple Books

iBooks is usually the default application for opening PDFs on an iPhone. Apple Books supports the PDF format. However, if you still cannot open PDFs via iBooks, then try to check if there is a new version available for the application. A missing update might be the cause of your problems.

#7 – Try Opening the PDF via an Internet Browser App

Opening PDFs via an internet browser is an alternative method that not many users know. However, this particular method works only if you are trying to open an email attachment. In other words, instead of using a dedicated email application like Gmail or Apple Mail, access your inbox via an internet browser and try opening a PDF then.

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