How to open a PDF in Windows

Updated: 01/24/2018 by Computer Hope
Adobe PDF file icon.

To open a PDF (Portable Document Format) file in Windows, you need a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader or an alternative PDF reader installed on your computer. Acrobat Reader is free and available on the Adobe website.

Once you begin the download process, the Adobe website displays instructions for completing the download and installing the program. Follow those instructions to finish the installation. Once Adobe Reader is installed, you can open any PDF document using the methods mentioned below.

Open PDF file in the PDF reader

Open the Adobe Reader or any other PDF program. Then, click the file menu near the top-left side of the window, select Open, and browse to the location of the PDF file. Select the file you want to open by clicking the file name, and click the Open button to open the file.

Open PDF in Windows

Open the file from Windows Explorer

After a PDF reader is installed on a computer, any PDF file is associated with that reader and should open when you double-click the file. Open Windows Explorer or My Computer and find the PDF file you want to open. Double-click the PDF file name to open it in Adobe Reader or your PDF reader.

Opening PDF in Windows


If you've installed a new PDF reader, but your PDFs automatically open in another program, see: How to associate a file with a program in Windows. Alternatively, right-click the file, choose Open with, and select the PDF reader to use to open the file.