Fix: Adobe Reader not Working on Windows

Adobe reader is the go-to choice for customers since almost a decade in all platforms out there. Adobe reader is packed with very useful functions in addition to normal viewing capabilities. However, there are instances where the Adobe Reader ceases to work at all.

Adobe Acrobat has stopped working

Either the application doesn’t open or it crashes whenever you load a PDF. This behavior is usually witnessed after a Windows Update is installed on the computer. There have been numerous cases experienced by users for quite some time. The workarounds to this issue are very simple and straightforward. Make sure that you start from the top and work your way down accordingly.

What causes Adobe Reader not to Work in Windows 10?

In addition to Windows Updates being the primary reason, there are also several other reasons why your Adobe Reader might not work properly in your computer. Some of them are listed below:

  • Corrupted Installation: There are some cases where the installation of Adobe reader has become corrupt. This is very common and is usually fixed through reinstallation and deleting the residue files.
  • Protected mode: The protected mode in Adobe adds an additional layer of security to your reader. This layer of security sometimes doesn’t work and causes the reader not to load PDF’s.
  • Windows Update: Like mentioned at the start, Windows Updates are the main culprit why Adobe Reader doesn’t work properly and crashes. This issue is usually fixed by running the application in compatibility mode.
  • Administrative privileges: Like all other software, Adobe also sometimes requires administrative privileges to run the application. With the growing security architecture in Windows, this is very common and usually becomes a necessity after a Windows Update.

Before you start with the solutions, make sure that you are trying to open a valid PDF file. If you are trying to open a broken one or one which is malicious, the reader might not work. Also, make sure that you are logged in as an administrator.

Solution 1: Disabling Protected Mode

To provide more security for users using Adobe reader, the company introduced ‘protected mode’ a while ago which is designed to launch the PDF file in a sandbox environment. This means that the application will launch the PDF in a confined environment where it doesn’t have access to the outside computer architecture; hence providing more security. This mode is known to cause issues so we will disable it and check if this changes anything.

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat DC application on your computer and click Edit > Preferences present at the top navigation bar (you can also press Ctrl + K to launch the menu instantly).
  2. Now select the option Security (enhanced) present at the left navigation pane and uncheck the following options:
Enable Protected mode at startup

Enable Enhanced Security

  1. Save your changes and exit. Now restart the application and check if Adobe reader is working as expected.

Solution 2: Changing Compatibility and Administrative Settings

Windows Updates are known to disrupt Adobe Acrobat’s settings and cause it not to launch properly. Adobe reader is linked with so many modules and applications in the background such as linking with default programs etc. Whenever Windows launched an update, it probably broke the Adobe reader. We will change the compatibility settings and check if this fixes anything.

  1. Press Windows + E to launch the Windows Explorer on your computer and navigate to the following location:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat Reader DC\Reader
  1. Right-click on the Adobe executable (AcroRd32.exe or some other file name depending on version) and select Properties.
  2. Select Compatibility from the top and check the option Run this program in compatibility mode for: Windows 7. You can also choose Windows XP. Now check the option of Run this program as an administrator.
Changing Compatibility Settings – Adobe Acrobat Reader DC
  1. Now press Apply to save changes and exit. Restart your computer and check if the issue is resolved.

Solution 3: Repairing and installing Latest Patch

If both the above methods don’t work, there might be a chance that your installation files are corrupt or some of their parts are missing. We can always proceed with a fresh installation but before trying that, it is always wise to repair or update the application to the latest build. Adobe also releases updates to introduce new features and fix bugs.

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat DC application on your computer.
  2. Press Help from the top bar and click Repair Installation.
Repairing Installation – Adobe Acrobat
  1. A prompt will come forward asking you to confirm your actions. Press Yes to proceed and continue with the on-screen instructions.
Confirming repair installation – Adobe Acrobat
  1. Also, select the option Check for Updates so Adobe starts scanning for any available patches to download and install. If any update installs, restart your computer and check if the issue is resolved.

Solution 4: Reinstalling Adobe Reader

If all the above methods don’t work, we are only left with the options to reinstalling Adobe reader from scratch. To make sure that there are no remnants of the old application still lurking on your computer, we will also delete all the files present in your user settings and program data. Make sure that you are logged in as an administrator.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “appwiz.cpl” in the dialogue box and press Enter.
  2. Once in the application manager, search for the entry Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. Right-click on the application and select Uninstall.
Uninstalling Adobe Acrobat Reader DC
  1. Restart your computer properly and press Windows + E to launch the File Explorer. Now navigate to the following locations and delete all Adobe Acrobat related folders from the directories. Make sure that you are logged in as an administrator.

In the address below, {username} corresponds to your computer’s username.


C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat Reader DC
Deleting Adobe Installation Files
  1. Now restart your computer again and proceed with the following steps.
  2. Navigate to the official Adobe Download Website and download the application to an accessible location.
Downloading Adobe Acrobat
  1. Right-click on the installation file and select Run as administrator. Follow the on-screen instructions to install the application. Now check if the issue is resolved.

Solution 5: Rolling back Windows Update

As we have mentioned throughout the article, Windows Updates are one of the main reasons why Adobe Acrobat doesn’t work properly. If you are unable to fix the issue of Adobe reader not working on your computer even after following all the solutions above, the only workaround is to uninstall the latest update installed on your computer. Make sure that you backup your files and data before proceeding as this might remove some of them.

  1. Press Windows + I to launch the Settings application. Now select Updates and security from the list of sub-headings.
  2. Now click Update history from the list of options.
Update History – Windows Update
  1. Now click on Uninstall updates present at the top of the screen.
Uninstall updates – Windows Update History
  1. Navigate down to Microsoft Windows. Here all the updates will be listed down. Right-click on the update which you think causes the problem and select Uninstall.
Uninstalling Microsoft Updates
  1. Windows will now uninstall the update from your computer. Restart your computer and check if Acrobat works. If still doesn’t, follow Solution 4 again.

Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.