print friendly version

Questions and answers

What should I do if Adobe Reader crashes, stops responding or if I have other problems opening PDF documents using it?

Sometimes there are problems viewing large PDFs in Adobe Reader. PDF documents can take a while to open and when scrolling, Adobe Reader can freeze and, occasionally close down altogether.

The behaviour is not consistent but if you encounter it with a file you're using, the following suggestions will help you to view the page more easily.

  1. Disable protected mode on startup

    Click on Edit > Preferences and then in the left hand pane select the General option (in Acrobat Reader X) or the Security (enhanced) option (in Acrobat Reader XI) and untick the option "Enable Protected Mode at startup" then click OK

    This reduces the time it takes for Adobe to launch and should address problems with the application appearing to "freeze" when you first open it, but if you still have problems, try:

  2. Disable the page preview on the scrollbar.

    Click on View > Page Display > Enable scrolling

    This turns off the little page preview which appears next to the scroll bar if you scroll through the document by clicking and dragging. This preview can cause a noticeable lag, especially if you drag a long distance.

  3. Try saving the file locally on the computer you are using. Sometimes network delays can be the cause of a slow response so if you want to be able to go backwards and forwards through a file quickly, for example in a lecture, you could temporarily save the file locally on the computer:

    • Choose File > Save As and choose Computer
    • Save the file in C:\Temp\
    • The file will be deleted automatically the next time the computer is shut down but you can also delete it manually when you have finished with it if it contains confidential information

  4. Try a different file viewer. Adobe PDF Reader is a relatively large program which can run slowly - but there are other programs that can view PDFs. For example, the Google Chrome browser which is installed on all student PCs and computers in lecture rooms has its own built-in PDF viewer. You can open a PDF in Chrome as follows:

    • go to the location where your PDF file is stored
    • right-click on the file and choose Open with
    • if Google Chrome is shown as one of the options, click on it to open the PDF
    • if not, click on Choose default program…
    • click on Browse... and go to
      C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application
      click on chrome.exe and then click the Open button
    • if you want to use Chrome to open all PDFs in future, leave the option Always use the selected program... ticked (or you can un-tick it if you just want to try Chrome before setting it as the default)

Help us to improve this answer

Please suggest an improvement
(login needed, link opens in new window)

Your views are welcome and will help other readers of this page.


This is question number 2609, which appears in the following categories:

Created by David Guest on 4 December 2013 and last updated by Mark Wilson on 16 February 2018