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Home / Blog / Can’t Open PDF on iPhone | 10 Fixes You Should Know

Can’t Open PDF on iPhone | 10 Fixes You Should Know

By Lena | Follow twitter | Updated on November 21, 2023
PDF is a commonly used format for document distribution. You probably receive and send a lot of PDF files every day. But now you find that you can’t open PDF on iPhone. You can't view the content, let alone fill it out and send it. Don't worry, you can find the solution in this article.

Problem: Can’t Open PDF on iPhone

In fact, you are not the only one who meets the PDF not opening on iPhone issue. Many users have reported this issue and here are some of the most common scenarios.

❗️ Can’t open PDF file in Safari

❗️ Can’t open PDF with iBook app

❗️ Can’t open PDF attachments in Mail

❗️ Can’t open PDF in Outlook 

iPhone is designed to open PDF automatically. There is no need to install any additional apps. That means under normal circumstances, users can open PDF in Mail, Safari, or iBook. So you may ask, why can’t I open PDF on iPhone?

Why Can’t I Open PDF on iPhone?

Well, there are many reasons why PDF not opening on iPhone. Below are some common reasons.

  • The PDF file is corrupted or it may not have been downloaded correctly.
  • Some apps prevent your iPhone from opening PDF files.
  • Unknown bugs and glitches will cause the PDF not opening on iPhone issue.
  • The PDF file is encrypted so you don't have permission to view it.

How to Fix Can’t Open PDF on iPhone

Let’s see how to fix this “can’t open PDF on iPhone” problem. You can try them in turn until the problem is solved.

Fix 1. Determine If the PDF is Damaged

First of all, you need to determine if the problem is with the PDF document. If the PDF file is corrupted, then it cannot be opened. You can either try downloading the PDF file again or have the sender resend it.

In addition, you download and copy the PDF file to the iBook app to see if you can open it. If you are sure that there is no problem with the PDF file, please continue with the following method.

Fix 2. Force Restart iPhone

Sometimes, a Force Restart may solve all the problems. It will free up the memory and eliminate all the glitches. Therefore, when you can’t open PDF on iPhone, it's worth trying to do a force restart. The restart method varies from model to model, the detailed steps are as follows.

For iPhone 8 and later models:

Press and quickly release the Volume Up button > Press and quickly release the Volume Down button > Press and hold the side button until the Apple logo appears.

Force Restart iPhone

For iPhone 7:

Press and hold the Volume Down button and the Sleep/Wake button together until the Apple logo appears.

For iPhone 6:

Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time until the Apple logo appears.

Fix 3. Use A PDF Reader

If you don't want to keep spending time troubleshooting the problem and want to view the PDF file immediately, then you can download the PDF on your iPhone and view it via a PDF reader. Simply go to App Store to get one like SwifDoo PDF for iOS.

SwifDoo PDF for iOS

With this app, you can view any PDF document without effort. In addition, it allows you to type text, highlight text, add notes, draw on PDF, etc.

Fix 4. Uninstall Problematic Apps

Some apps will prevent the iPhone from opening PDF files The known ones are Alibaba, Aliexpress, Centrelink, and WinZip. If you have these apps installed, then you can uninstall them and try again to see if you can open the PDF.

If you don't have any of these apps installed, then check to see if you've recently downloaded some new apps. Maybe one newly downloaded app caused the PDF not opening on iPhone problem.

Fix 5. Try to Open Email in Browser

If can't open PDF in email on iPhone, then you can go to the web version of your email account. Open Safari or another browser > search the email login page and log in to your account. Then you can see if you can open the PDF attachment.

If that's possible, then the problem is with the Mail app. You can try to update the app or reinstall it.

Fix 6. Sign Out and In Your Account

Some users said the “can’t open PDF on iPhone” issue was resolved after logging out and logging back into their accounts. You can follow the steps below.

  • Open Settings app.
  • Choose Mail and tap Accounts.


  • Tap your email account and choose Delete Account.
  • After that, on the Accounts screen, tap Add Account to add your account.

Fix 7. Clear Safari History

If PDF not opening in Safari on iPhone, you can try to clear the history. Go to Settings > Choose Safari > Tap Clear History and Website Data > Select All history > Tap Clear History to confirm.

Clear History

Fix 8. Check Safari Plug-ins

Maybe it's a plugin installed in Safari that caused the can’t open PDF on iPhone issue. You can disable all the plugins to see if the problem can be solved.

If the PDF can be opened without problems after closing the plugin, then the next thing to do is to determine which plugin caused the issue. Once you've identified it, you can consider removing it completely.

Fix 9. Update App

Many people feel that updates are optional. However, in fact, keeping your system and apps up to date is key to ensuring your iPhone runs smoothly. When you are unable to open PDF on iPhone, you can go to App Store to update Mail, Safari, and iBooks.

Fix 10. Update iOS

Apple releases updates not only to release new features but also to fix bugs in the system. Therefore, you can try to update iOS and see if it solves the PDF not opening on iPhone problem.

Go to Settings > General > Software Update to see if there is an update available. If there is, then tap Download and Install to make it.

Update iOS

Final Words

Hope one of these fixes can help you get rid of the can’t open PDF on iPhone issue. If nothing works, you can connect Apple Support. Tell them about the problems you're experiencing and the actions you've already taken, and see what else they recommend.


Q:Why can’t I open PDF on iPhone email?

The PDF file is corrupted; the email client has bugs; iOS version is too low.

Q:Why can’t I open PDF on iPhone Safari?

The PDF file is damaged; Safari version is too low; the installed plug-in prevents your phone from opening the PDF.



Lena has been in the editing industry for 8 years. She is familiar with a variety of products that can make things easier, such as PDF tools, video recording software, iOS location changer, etc. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with users to help them solve problems in their work and life. In her spare time, she likes to play with her cat.

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