Outlook won’t open PDF attachments [COMPLETE FIX]

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
Troubleshooting Expert
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  • First of all, you need to scan the PDF file to figure out if it is safe for your computer. Some PDF files sent via email contain viruses, malware, or even spyware.
  • Microsoft Outlook may be overwhelmed at the time you wanted to open the file, so you may consider restarting Outlook and try again.
  • You can read all there is to know about PDF files and readers from our dedicated PDF hub.
  • Our Outlook fix hub is filled with guides on how to solve any possible issues with Outlook so take a look inside if you have any problems with this e-mail client.
Outlook won’t open PDF attachments

Microsoft Outlook is one of the top relevant desktop email clients which can be synced even with custom webmail.

However, some Windows users reported that Microsoft Outlook won’t open PDF attachments in their emails; this seems to be a general problem.

Meanwhile, Windows Report has compiled the applicable solutions to this menacing problem.

Fix PDF attachment issues in Outlook

  1. Install Adobe Reader
  2. Scan the PDF
  3. Restart Microsoft Outlook
  4. Run Windows Update
  5. Request for a resend
  6. Use the right password
  7. Temporarily disable the antivirus protection

Solution 1: Install Adobe Reader

You may be unable to open a PDF file in Microsoft Outlook directly if you do not have PDF reader software installed on your machine.

Let’s make sure you use the best PDF reader software available on the market. Check if Adobe Reader isn’t missing.

Having the latest version is also a good idea, so go ahead and download it now, install it and then try opening the PDF attachments again.

Download Adobe Reader free here

Solution 2: Scan the PDF

First of all, you need to scan the PDF file so as to ascertain whether it is safe for your Windows PC.

Some PDF files sent to email contains viruses, malware, or even spyware that poise unwanted threats on your system. Here’s how to scan the PDF file:

  1. Go to Start > Type Windows Defender and then hit Enter
  2. Select custom scan option and select the folder where the PDF file is located.
  3. Now, click on scan to proceed.

Alternatively, you can right-click on the PDF file and select scan with ….(third-party antivirus) to scan the PDF file.

Solution 3: Restart Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook may be overwhelmed as at the time you wanted to open the file; hence, you may consider restarting Outlook and try again.

In addition, you should ensure you check with your Internet status so as to fully download the PDF attachments and view them in the previewer menu.

Solution 4: Run Windows Update

Microsoft constantly releases frequent patches containing fixes and drivers for your Windows PC. Hence, make sure that you’re running the latest OS version on your computer.

This would keep your PC devoid of issues most especially Microsoft products related issues.

Here’s how to run Windows Update on your PC.

  1. Go to Start > Type Windows Update and hit the Enter key.
  2. In the Windows Update windows, click on the Check for updates button.

Solution 5: Request for a resend

Sometimes, the PDF file may have been corrupted if it was transferred using a USB. In addition, the program used to create the PDF file did not create the PDF file perfectly.

However, you may have to ask the sender to resend the PDF file to you or request it in another format.

Solution 6: Use the right password

Some PDF files are encrypted using a password which secures the PDF from unwanted access. For example, bank statements, payment receipts, sensitive files, etc.

In order to open this set of files, you need to use the right password which are confidential and can only be known by the appropriate individual.

If your PDF file is password-encrypted, you may need to ask for the password so as to open the PDF file.


You might also be interested in our article about the 9 best antivirus software with encryption to secure your data


Solution 7: Temporarily disable the antivirus protection

Sometimes, antivirus programs can delete or quarantine certain files, patches , or DLLs associated with programs.

However, the antivirus scanning engines might misinterpret files that can be trusted with potential harmful packages.

However, ensure you verify the quarantine list as there you might find the file that’s missing from this certain program, app , or game.

You can then restore it, or if that isn’t working you should follow instead:

  1. Launch your antivirus program and disable the antivirus protection for a few minutes.
  2. Now, launch Microsoft Outlook and access the PDF attachments.

Note: after, you open the PDF attachments; ensure you enable the antivirus protection afterward.

Do share with us your experience in solving the Outlook won’t open PDF attachments problem. Feel free to comment below in the comment section and we would get back to you.

FAQ: Read more about PDF files

  • Why can’t I open a PDF attachment in Outlook?
If you can’t open a PDF from Microsoft Outlook, you can download it on your hard drive and open it from there. Tha’s only a workaround. To fix the problem, follow our expert guide.
  • Why is Outlook not showing attachments?
Open Outlook > Tools > Options, click the Mail Delivery tab and under mail Delivery, make sure that the checkbox Don’t download message larger than X KB is not checked.
  • Why won’t my Adobe files open?
One of the reasons why you can’t open PDF files could be because Acrobat Reader software might not be functioning properly.  Try repairing Adobe Acrobat.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.