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How To Open A Damaged PDF

Opening a damaged PDF, contrary to what many people believe, is a completely feasible action if you have the necessary tool to do so. Just because a broken PDF will not open, you can repair the PDF oftentimes, as we will see in this article.

Abrir PDF dañado

At the end of the day, a damaged PDF is still a file whose content simply cannot be viewed because the file has been corrupted in some way. Fortunately, there are ways to fix this.

Getting an error, when opening a PDF file, is far more common than it seems. Any improper changes to a document can cause the file to become corrupted and, from that point on, any attempt to open the file generates an error. This happens a lot with PDFs, so there are already solutions to fix it. Let’s take a look!

How To Open A Damaged PDF Step-By-Step

How to open a damaged PDF? Very easy: you will have to run it through a document repair tool. This will correct the problem that is preventing you from viewing the contents of the file. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Go to https://www.formatpdf.com/en/repair-pdf/
  2. Upload the file that generates the error when opening it.
  3. Then click on the "Repair" button and follow the instructions on the screen to fix the problem.

What You Should Know About Opening A Damaged PDF File

The key, when it comes to fixing a damaged PDF file online, lies in knowing what you can and cannot achieve with a file repair tool. First of all, you should know that:

  • Why might a PDF be damaged? The reasons are almost infinite: because the last change didn’t save properly, because there’s a conflicting image format inserted, because it has been saved in an incompatible PDF extension... If it’s an error that’s easy to fix, you should be able to correct it with the online tool.
  • Keep in mind that sometimes it’s actually your PDF viewer that may be at fault. Try updating it to the latest version available, to make sure it’s not a compatibility issue. You should even try another alternative reader, in case the program itself is causing the problem.
  • Of course, it may be the case that you simply cannot open the PDF file, even if you’ve tried all methods of repairing it. If the file is no longer recoverable, you’ll have no choice but to assume its loss and create a document from scratch.
  • In case you manage to open it correctly, after solving the error you were getting, remember that you can sort, rotate and protect it, among many other actions, all online with our service.

Which Programs Allow You To Open Damaged PDF Files

In case you’re looking for alternatives to an online tool to open a damaged PDF, you’ll be interested to know that there are free programs for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iPhone/iPad.

But, before resorting to these programs, make sure that the damaged file error isn’t being caused by your own document viewer.

Open A Damaged PDF On Your Computer

Let's start with the alternatives for computers. Windows, macOS and Linux are the most popular operating systems in the world. So let’s check them out, with a selection of the programs that you could use to perform this task.


On Windows, it’s very often the case that the cause of the problem is Acrobat Reader itself. Sometimes, a quick fix of Adobe's program eliminates the error that is preventing the document from opening.

The steps to repair the Adobe program are as follows:

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.
  2. Then click on the "Help" menu.
  3. Finally, click on "Repair installation of", accept the pop-up window that will appear, and wait a few seconds for the program to finish reinstalling.
  4. On the other hand, you can also try to update the program to the latest version available, for which you must go to "Help", click on "Check for updates..." and wait for the program to check if there’s a new version available for download.

Suppose the latter does not work either, and you cannot open the damaged PDF. In that case, you can also ue external document repair programs, such as Kernel PDF Repair, PDF Recovery Toolbox or PDF Repair Tool, among others.


The dreaded "xxx.pdf is damaged and cannot be opened. You should move it to the trash" seems to tell you that you can no longer open your PDF on macOS. But, far from it, the truth is that, just by updating the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC viewer to the latest version, you should be able to view the file correctly.

If not, before you throw in the towel, try using other PDF viewers that may allow you to view the broken PDF.


What Linux users who’ve managed to solve this problem advise is to turn to alternative open-source viewers that, because they are programmed differently, can open a damaged document. MuPDF, available free for download, has good reviews in this regard.

How To Open A Damaged PDF On Your Phone Or Tablet

The dreaded "I can't open PDF file, it tells me it's damaged" moment becomes even more complicated if you're trying to open it from a mobile or tablet. This is because, with the exception of online tools, there are few specific repair apps that allow you to fix this problem.


If you take a look at the Google Play Store for Android, you will find alternatives such as PDF Repair by SmartApps38 or PDF Utilities by shash9989. These are free apps with the option to repair PDF documents that won't open.

iPhone (iOS) or iPad

If you can't open a PDF that appears damaged from your iPhone or iPad, it's best to first make sure you have updated the document viewer you're using to the latest version. Navigate to the App Store, search for the name of your application, and check if there’s a new version available.

Jakub has worked in the main technology media sites in Spain (TuExperto, El Androide Libre and ComputerHoy), accumulating more than six years of experience in the tech sector. He has written hundreds of articles, tutorials and news about programs, applications, office automation and working with documents.
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