Fix: Error Failed to Load PDF Document in Chrome

Some users have been reporting problems when trying to open PDF documents with Google Chrome. Most affected users are complaining that they get a “Failed to load PDF document” error message when the built-in Chrome PDF viewer tries to open the PDF automatically. This issue is not exclusive to a certain Windows version since it’s reported to occur with all the recent Windows versions.

Failed to Load PDF document

What is causing the “Failed to load PDF document” error?

We researched this particular error message by looking at a lot of user reports and the repair methods that they deployed in order to get the issue resolved. Based on our investigations, there are a couple of common scenarios that will trigger this particular behavior in Google Chrome:

  • Google Chrome is not updated – Chrome’s built-in PDF Viewer has gotten better lately and a lot of bugs related to it have been resolved by Google. However, you will not see the improvements unless you upload your Chrome to the latest version. In some cases, the fix is as simple as uploading Chrome to the latest version available.
  • The built-in PDF viewer is not equipped to view protected PDFs – A lot of users have been reporting problems with the built-in PDF viewer when trying to open protected PDF documents. In this case, the solution is to re-configure Google Chrome to avoid using the PDF viewer and open the document with a different PDF viewer app.

If you’re struggling to resolve this particular error message, we have some verified troubleshooting steps that will help you to resolve the issue. Down below you have several methods that other users in a similar situation have used to get the issue resolved.

For the best results, follow the methods in order as they are ordered by efficiency and severity. You should eventually stumble upon a method that will resolve the problem in your particular scenario. Let’s begin!

Method 1: Update Chrome to latest version

Several users that have been encountering this particular issue on Google Chrome have reported that the issue was resolved after they update their Chrome build to the latest version. Most likely, this fix is effective because Google has already patched some problems related to PDF viewing.

Here’s a quick guide on how to Update Chrome to the latest version:

  1. Open Google Chrome and press the action icon (three-dot icon). Then, go to Help and click on About Google Chrome.
    Access Google Chrome
  2. At the next screen, the updating feature will automatically scan to determine if a new version of Google Chrome is available for download. If a new version is indeed available, you will be prompted to install it.
    Update Google Chrome
    Update Google Chrome
  3. After the newer build is installed, restart your browser and check if the issue has been resolved.

If you’re still encountering the Error Failed to Load PDF Document error when trying to open a PDF file in Google Chrome, move down to the next method below.

Method 2: Using a 3rd party extension (PDF Viewer)

Several users have managed to resolve the issue after downloading & enabling an extension called PDF Viewer in Google Chrome. As it turns out, this extension is often proven to open PDF files that the built-in PDF function of Google Chrome can’t. Quite frankly, this is very embarrassing for Google.

Anyways, here’s a quick guide on installing and using the 3rd party extension (PDF Viewer):

  1. Visit this link (here) and click on Add to Chrome to install the PDF Viewer Extension. Then click Add Extension to confirm the installation.
  2. Once the extension has been installed, type “chrome://extensions/” in the address bar and press Enter to open the Extension window. Once you get there, ensure that PDF Viewer is enabled.
    Verifying if the newly installed extension is enabled
  3. Restart Google Chrome, open another PDF file and see if the Error Failed to Load PDF Document issue is still occurring.

If you’re still having the same issue,  move down to the next method below.

Method 3: Re-configure Chrome’s PDF Settings

This particular error message might occur because of Google Chrome’s inability to open the PDF document. This is typically known to happen with protected PDF documents such as Firmex. In this case, the way around this inconvenient is to download the PDF file and use another software like Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat to open the PDF document.

Here’s a quick guide through the whole thing:

  1. Open Google Chrome and click the action button (top-right corner). Then, from the newly appeared menu choose Settings.

    Settings - Chrome
    Settings – Chrome
  2. Inside the Settings menu, scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click Advanced.

    Accessing the Advanced menu of Google Chrome
  3. Next, scroll down to the Privacy and security tab and click on Content settings
    Accessing the Content Settings menu of Google Chrome
  4. Scroll down through the list of Content settings list and click on PDF documents. Inside the next menu, enable the toggle associated with Download PDF files instead of automatically opening them in Chrome.
    Accessing the PDF documents setting
  5. Once the option has been enabled, access the PDF again. This time, Chrome will only download it instead of trying to open it.
  6. When the download is complete, open it with specialized software like Acrobat Reader or Adobe Reader. You should have no problems doing so.

Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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Fix: Error Failed to Load PDF Document in Chrome

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