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Can’t download PDF files on Android phone (FIX)

cant download pdf files on android

Some users report that they can’t download or save PDF files on their Android phones for some reason. Many document exchanges these days are done through instant messaging apps or browser clients, so this can be quite a troublesome occurrence. Luckily, we have some solutions to suggest.

Why is my Android phone not opening PDF files?

Your Android phone might not be opening PDF files because you don’t have an associated app installed. Either use Google Drive or download a third-party PDF reader to your device. If you can’t download PDF files on your Android, make sure to check the File Manager (the Files app) because there’s a chance that the files are already downloaded and stored locally.

Definitely check if the browser or the app containing PDF has Storage permission. Learn below about additional steps.

1. Install apps that can open PDF files

By default, only Google Drive can open PDF files on Android. And, most Android skins come with Google Drive, but not all users keep or actively use the app. Alternatively, you can install Adobe Acrobat Reader or a different PDF reader. The same applies to other document formats; different apps open different files. Luckily, you can save DOC files as PDFs on Android.

Once you’re sure you have an app that can open PDF files, ensure that the file is not corrupt. Also, we recommend using Chrome or an alternative browser instead of an in-app browser to download files. Facebook browser, Instagram browser, or even Google App browser might not save files, based on reports. If the issue persists, move to the next step.

Extra tip: Disable antivirus apps on your device. Some of them might prevent downloads and, more times than not, it’s a false positive. You don’t really need an antivirus on your Android, to begin with.

2. Check Downloads in File Manager (Files)

For some reason, Android 12 made specific changes to default app assignments, when you open documents directly via the browser instead of accessing them in the system file manager. So, there’s a good chance that the PDF file you’ve been trying to download is already stored on your device and you can find it if you browse through the local storage.

By default, all downloaded files are in the Downloads folder. With that in mind, navigate to Files or File Manager and inspect Downloads. There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to open the file from there. Of course, assuming that you have an app that can open PDF files, as explained in the first step. If you use an SD card to store downloaded files, check SD storage, instead.

3. Check Storage permission

Another thing you should check is the Storage permission for Google Chrome or alternative browsers you might’ve been using to download PDF files. Without Storage permission, apps can’t access the local storage and thus are unable to store or make changes to new files.

Here’s how to grant Storage permission to an app on Android:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select Apps.
  3. Choose Google Chrome or your preferred mobile browser.
  4. Tap Storage.
  5. Allow Storage access.can't download pdf files on android

4. Clear browser data

If you’re still unable to download and save PDF files on your Android, you can reset the browser by clearing the local data. There’s always a possibility of data corruption and this should fix it. Hopefully, your downloads will start working as intended. This action won’t delete your browser history in Chrome, but it might in other browsers assuming you’re not signed in.

Here’s how to clear the local data from Chrome on Android:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Choose Apps.
  3. Select Chrome.
  4. Tap Storage.
  5. Select Manage storage.
  6. Tap Clear All Data and confirm when prompted.can't download pdf files on android

Try downloading PDFs again and check if the issue persists.

5. Uninstall browser updates

Another option you have at your disposal whenever the first-party app like Chrome starts misbehaving is to reset it. This is done by uninstalling app updates and re-updating the app. Reinstallation from Play Store is available for third-party apps. So if Firefox for Android won’t download PDF files, you can reinstall the app.

Here’s how to uninstall updates from Chrome on Android:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select Apps.
  3. Choose Chrome from the list of available apps.
  4. Tap on the 3-dots menu and then tap Uninstall updates.can't download pdf files on android
  5. Navigate to Play Store and update Google Chrome.

6. Switch to an alternative browser

Finally, if you can’t wrap your head around the problem, and the browser you currently use can’t seem to save PDF files to your Android device, just try an alternative browser. There are a lot of options on Google Play Store to choose from. Some that come to mind are Mozilla Firefox, DuckDuckGo, Brave, and Opera.

Download a different browser and give it a try. On the other hand, if you can’t download PDF files on Android from instant messaging apps, like Viber, consider clearing app data or, as a workaround that some people suggested, forwarding the PDF file to yourself or a different conversation. It seems that the problem appears only in certain conversations for no apparent reason.

With that said, we can conclude this article. We thank you for reading and encourage you to leave your thoughts in the comments section below. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.

Picture of Aleksandar Ognjanovic

Aleksandar Ognjanovic

Managing editor at Mobile Internist. @lemmingspain My fascination with mobile technology, particularly Android and iOS, began years ago and continues today. I'm captivated by the constant evolution in the smartphone industry and its impact on our daily lives, always anticipating the next big innovation. That’s the main reason why I found myself writing instructive content on the subject for users who are not as familiar with all the bells and whistles.
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