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Home / News / Fix Safari Can’t Open PDF on Mac and iPhone

Fix Safari Can’t Open PDF on Mac and iPhone

By Lena | Follow twitter | Updated on May 15, 2024
Do you see a gray background instead of the PDF's content after clicking the link? Does Safari download the PDF directly instead of opening it in a new tab? If you're struggling with the "Safari can't open PDF" issue, check out this guide to find a solution.

Why Won’t Safari Open A PDF?

Safari has a built-in PDF reader that lets you open PDF online without downloading. However, why can’t Safari open PDF on your Mac or iPhone? Here are some possible reasons.

The browser is not updated. Outdated Safari may not work properly, so the PDF is not displayed as expected.

Extension conflict. Safari uses built-in support or plug-ins to open PDFs, but when they conflict, you will encounter the “PDF will not open in Safari” issue.

The PDF is corrtuped. Safari cannot open a corrupted or damaged PDF file.

Incorrect settings. Maybe it's because Safari is set to automatically download PDFs instead of opening them.

Cache and cookies. The corrupted cached data may also prevent you from opening the PDF in Safari.

Next, I’ll show you how to fix Safari can’t open PDF issue on Mac and iPhone.

Part 1. Fix Safari Can’t Open PDF on Mac

Usually, when you click on a PDF link, Safari opens the file in a new tab and does not download it. You can see the controls by moving the pointer to the bottom center of the window. If the PDF will not open in Safari, try these methods.

Fix 1. Try Another Browser/URL

The first thing you can do is to confirm whether something is wrong with the PDF.

  • Maybe the PDF is damaged, so the PDF will not open in Safari. Try accessing other PDF files and see if the problem still exists.
  • All major browsers have built-in PDF readers, so you can copy and paste the PDF URL into Google Chrome, Firefox, or Edge to see if they will open it.

Fix 2. Update Safari

Please make sure you have installed the latest version of Safari. Since it is the default browser for Mac, you need to update macOS to update Safari.

  • Click the Apple icon in the top left corner.
  • Go to System Settings > General > Software Update.
  • Wait for a while > Click Upgrade Now and enter the password.

Update Safari

Fix 3. Check Safari Settings

Safari opens PDF instead of downloading. The issue could happen when you have turned off the viewing feature. You can go to Safari preferences to uncheck the Open “safe” files after downloading option.

Safari Settings

Fix 4. Disable Extensions

Some extensions may prevent Safari from opening the PDF. If you have installed some plug-ins, you can temporarily disable them and refresh the page to see if you can successfully open the file.

How to disable extensions: open Safari > go to Preferences > Extensions and turn them off.

Fix 5. Delete AdobePDFViewer Plug-ins

The built-in viewer and Adobe reader plug-in conflict may cause the Safari can't open PDF problem. To solve the problem, follow the steps below.

  • Go to Finder > Choose Go > Select Go to Folder.
  • Copy and paste /Library/Internet Plug-ins into the box > Click Go to confirm.
  • Find all files with AdobePDFViewer in their names and drag them to the Trash.

Delete AdobePDFViewer Plug-ins

  • Refresh the Safari and see if you can display the PDF.

Fix 6. Clear Website Data

  • Click the Safari icon in the top left corner > Click Settings > Choose Privacy.
  • Select Manage Website Data.
  • Choose Remove All.

Clear Website Data

Part 2. Fix Safari Can’t Open PDF on iPhone

If you're having trouble opening PDF files in Safari on your iPhone, here are a few steps you can take to try to fix the problem:

Fix 1. Try A Different PDF

Safari can’t open a corrupted PDF file. You can try to see if you can open other PDF links. If it can, then it's not a Safari problem. If the problem still exists, then move on to the following methods.

Fix 2. Disable Content Blockers

The content blocker can block PDFs. If you have installed one, you can temporarily turn it off to see if you can open the PDF. Go to Settings > Safari > Extensions to make it.

Disable Extensions

Fix 3. Restart iPhone

The can’t open PDF in Safari on iPhone issue may be casued by glitches. A force restart will help refresh your phone and troubleshoot any glitches!

  • Press and quickly release the Volume Up and Volume Down buttons in turn.
  • Long press the Side button until you see the Apple logo.

Restart iPhone

Fix 4. Clean Cache and History

Clearing cache and history helps to solve the loading problem. So when the PDF will not open in Safari on iPhone, you can try to clear the website data.

Open Settings app > Choose Safari > Tap Clear History and Website Data > Choose All history and tap Clear History.

Clear History

Fix 5. Update Safari

The last method you can try is to update Safari. Unknown bugs in the old system can cause the can’t open PDF in Safari on iPhone problem. However, you need to upload the iOS to update Safari. Go to Settings > General > Software Update > Tap Download and Install.

Final Words

That’s all about how to fix Safari can’t open PDF issue. Hopefully, something will work. If the problem persists after trying these solutions, contact Apple support for further assistance. Tell them what you've already tried and see if they have any other ideas.

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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