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Last Updated: June 25, 2005
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Troubleshooting problems opening PDF files in Internet Explorer window

( Applies to Acrobat Reader version 6.0 )

When you click a .PDF link in a web page, the PDF document may not open and you see a image placeholder icon or a Red X in the browser window. To resolve the problem, follow the checklist mentioned in this article.


  • If your system has two versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader, uninstall both the versions and then install the latest version and the latest update. If you have earlier builds, update to 6.0.1 or above. Click Help menu and choose Update. BTW, updating to 6.0.1 also fixes another problem explained here

  • Open Adobe Acrobat Reader and click Edit, Preferences. Choose Internet in the Preferences window. Uncheck Display PDF in browser option and close the dialog. Repeat the same and this time, enable the Display PDF in browser option.

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader v6.x has Detect and Repair feature under the Help menu. See if repairing Adobe Reader helps you resolve the problem.

Steps specific to Windows XP Service Pack 2

  • Open Internet Explorer, Tools menu, Manage Add-ons

  • In the Manage Add-ons dialog, select Add-ons that have been used by Internet Explorer

  • Make sure Adobe Acrobat Control for ActiveX (pdf.ocx) is Enabled. If it's disabled, enable the add-on and restart Internet Explorer.

NOTE: If the specified add-on is Disabled and the Settings section is grayed-out with the message This add-on is managed by your Administrator, you need to enable the Adobe Acrobat ActiveX control in the Group Policy Editor or from the registry. The CLSID for Adobe Acrobat ActiveX Control is as follows:

{CA8A9780-280D-11CF-A24D-444553540000} and the filename is pdf.ocx.

For more information, see article "This add-on is managed by your Administrator" message while managing an add-on in Windows XP SP2 and Manage browser add-ons using "Add-on Configurator for Windows XP SP2" (utility). Type {CA8A9780-280D-11CF-A24D-444553540000} in the text box and click View add-on information. If the report says that the add-on is disabled, then click the Unblock Add-on button

In case the Adobe Acrobat Control for ActiveX is not listed (even after selecting the option Add-ons that have been used by Internet Explorer in Manage Add-ons dialog), register the pdf.ocx file using the Regsvr32 command.

Example: regsvr32 "c:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 6.0\Reader\ActiveX\pdf.ocx"

Change the Path accordingly if Adobe Acrobat reader is installed in a different drive or folder.


See if you're able to access this link (sample PDF document)

If nothing helps, you may:

  • Send feedback to me, including the version of Adobe Reader, OS info, the steps tried.

  • Post this question in Adobe "user to user forum".

  • Post this question in Microsoft Internet Explorer Newsgroups.

Related Microsoft Knowledgebase articles

Cannot Browse Multiple PDF Files with Microsoft Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer Opens a Blank Page with a Placeholder Icon Instead of a .pdf File in Adobe Acrobat Reader