How to View a PDF File

PDFs are known as a universal format for a reason: they can be viewed on any platform. This is a major benefit to using the format. With millions of users on different computers and operating systems, you do not have to worry about anyone being unable to open your PDF document.

Just as long as you have the right software, you can open a PDF and view them in full screen, as separate files, or in web browsers. Here are a few How-To tips.


Viewing PDF Files in your Web Browser:

PDF viewers, like Adobe Reader, are great for viewing PDFs offline when you do not have the Internet. When browsing online with a browser like Firefox, you can now easily view PDFs in your browser though, you may need to change your browser settings first.

  • 1To change Firefox settings:
  1. Go to Options > Applications.
Firefox Options
  1. Choose Portable Document Format (PDF)> Preview in Firefox.
  2. Click on OK.
Preview PDF Firefox

Viewing PDF Files on your Desktop:

Most PDF viewer programs, Adobe Reader included, offer a few functions to make PDF viewing easy.

  • 1For easy navigation, go to View > Show/Hide > Navigation Pages or Toolbar Items to access a number of views for different PDF elements.
Reader Navigation Pane Options

For example, you can activate the Page Thumbnails view for a quick glance at the pages or the Bookmarks view for a hierarchical overview of the PDF file.

The Toolbar Items list just below will give you the ability to further customize the UI and place popular PDF viewing commands on the toolbar. Just click through to the drop menu and put a check beside the feature.

Reader Toolbar Items Menu
  • 2For specific viewing options, use the View menu:
Reader PDF View Options
  1. Rotate View - Rotates the page clockwise or counter-clockwise.
  2. Page Navigation - Lets you go to different pages in the PDF file.
Reader Page Navigation Options
  1. Page Display - Customizes the number of pages displayed at any one time.
Adobe Page Display Options
  1. Zoom - Changes text size. Here you can also opt for how you want your PDF to appear in the viewing window.
Reader PDF Zoom Options
  1. Comment
    • Annotations - Reveals annotation tools you can use on the PDF content as you read the file.
    • Markups - Reveals drawing tools to markup the PDF content as you read the file.
  2. Read Mode - Allows for an uncluttered GUI.
  3. Full Screen Mode - Puts the Reader in full screen.
  4. Show/Hide
    • Toolbars - Customizes which viewing tools toolbars are visible on the toolbar.
    • Navigation Panes - Customizes which navigation panes are visible.
    • Menu Bar - Turns the menu bar off. Press F9 to make it reappear.
  5. Read Out Loud - Reads the PDF out loud if it is a tagged PDF.
Reader Annotation Markup Tools