Viewing PDFs on a mobile device (smart phone)

I’m web-master for a site which in its regular version allows visitors to view a number of PDF leaflets. I’ve created a mobile version of the site with deliberately limited content. However, it would be nice if visitors could view these same leaflets, both on smart phones and (more importantly, perhaps), tablets.

The device on which I do my initial mobile testing is an android smart phone. I’ve managed to download a version of Acrobat Reader, and I can also download the PDFs (via links on a page on the mobile site). But I haven’t yet been able to get the browser to open the Reader, although I can view the PDFs by selecting them from my list of downloads. See for the landing page.

There would seem to be some problem integrating the Acrobat reader with Android. I had some trouble downloading and installing acrobat reader, is it possible I’ve not got the right (Android) version ?

Can anyone suggest a way forward, please ? Is there perhaps an altogether better way of going about this ?

Hm, if I click a link to a PDF on an iPhone, it just opens in the device’s browser and/or native PDF viewer.

Same with a Windows Phone, the browser just launches the PDF reader app when I hit on a PDF – and that’s true on your website as well. It sounds like a set-up problem on your phone rather than anything wrong with the website – I can’t believe that it’s a system problem with Android.

Thank you both. That’s reassuring. It looks as if I need to sort my phone out before trying anything else.

I’d really like to hear from any Android users out there, please, to see if anyone else has the same problem as I have.

The landing page you’ve linked above only shows a header and a blank page below on my android phone. Looks like you have an issue with the page. There’s nothin visible to view or download any pdfs so can’t try that, but on other sites I’ve had no issue with opening pdfs on this phone.

Thank you.
I had a similar report from an iPad user. What he saw was the header for the (mobile) home page with link to the regular site, but nothing more.
This is odd, because the home page ( normally opens perfectly well on my android phone. Perhaps the browser is choking on the query string in [URL=“”] However, it gives me more information to work with, which is always a good thing.

There’s some more work to do with mod_rewrite, but I’d like to get the PDF issue sorted first.
This link ( should go direct to one of the PDFs. On my phone, if I type in that link, I see a quick flash of a message saying ‘Starting Download’ but no other change (the current page remains). However, if I then navigate to ‘downloads’ the PDF is there and I can open it.

I can’t expect any visitor to the site to realise they need to do that, so somehow I’ve got to get the PDF to open in the browser as it does on my desktop.

There is an new update of Adobe Reader for Android Just check this out .


My colleague who tried that link (see #6) somehow got a stray single quote at the end of it, and that was why it failed for him.

There is an new update of Adobe Reader for Android Just check this out .

Thanks, I will. I’ve been off doing other things, but this is an issue I still need to resolve.

I went to your mobile site in your OP with my Asus Nexus 7 and selected the Wildlife PDF. I was given two choices to open it: Google or MoonReader Pro. I read it with MoonReader. I wondered why I wasn’t given the option of reading it with Adobe Reader.

I shut down MoonReader and opened Adobe Reader. I clicked on its menu icon and scrolled down and found the PDF, and opened it successfully in Adobe Reader.

If you want this viewable on a mobile phone, you’ll need a different version of the PDF. What’s readable on a tablet is too tiny on a smartphone screen, and when it’s a PDF, then the text cannot reflow to fit the screen, resulting in the frustration of sliding left-to-right, then back again to slide down. A PDF to be read on a smartphone needs to have either a significantly narrower page width or significantly larger type size to be readable. The type size was tiny on my Nexus 7", but readable, but the type could have had a more comfortable size.

Since the document had few graphics, it could easily be re-purposed in different sizes merely by narrowing the width of the original page (and its margins) to around 50cm (type size left as is), and output as PDF for mobile. Try it. It makes a world of difference.

Thank you for those useful comments. I don’t know wht Adobe Reader doesn’t seem to be offered on my android either. I have no idea whether that’s down to my phone or a short-coming in the mobile web site.

I will look into having a smaller narrower version of the PDF for mobile phones. But does that mean I need different PDFs for tablets too ?

The tablet users will determine that. If it’s a small-screen tablet, they’ll already know to download the smaller version.