California Department of Transportation

Solving PDF Problems


Some web users may experience problems when accessing PDF files, which may include:

  • Receiving a blank page.
  • Receiving a page filled with gibberish.
  • The web browser locks up or crashes.


There are various issues which can cause these problems, including:

  • Using older versions of Adobe Reader and Acrobat.
  • Using older versions of Internet Explorer (version 6 and earlier).
  • Not installing Windows patches.


The most effective solution is to update your software. The most current version of Adobe Reader is a free download from (for free alternative PDF readers see below). Windows and Internet Explorer updates can be installed by visiting

If updating your software does not fix the problem, or you cannot update your software, then one or more of the following solutions should help you view PDF files:

Disable the "Display PDF in Browser" option in your reader software. The steps below are for Adobe Reader; other PDF readers will be similar.

  1. Use Start - Programs - Adobe Reader to run the program directly (instead of running Reader as an embedded function within the web browser).
  2. Pull down the Edit menu of the Reader and choose Preferences.
  3. In the Internet settings page, de-select (uncheck) the Display PDF in Browser option.

Delete the temporary internet files cache used by Internet Explorer.

  1. Pull down the Tools menu of Internet Explorer and choose Internet Options.
  2. Make sure the first tab, General is selected.
  3. Click the middle Delete Files button (or Delete then Delete Files depending on your version) and then wait as long as necessary for the computer to clean up. (The first time will take a few minutes on some computers; succeeding cycles are usually much quicker.)
  4. Return to the web site and try clicking on the PDF document link again.
  5. Repeat as necessary.

Use the "Save Target As" option to save a copy of the PDF to your computer.

  1. At the web site, put your cursor/pointer on the PDF file you want, right-click on your mouse, then choose Save Target As from the menu that will pop up nearby (some browsers will show Save Link As instead). Save the PDF to your desktop or some other easy to remember location.
  2. If you saved the PDF to your desktop simply double-click it. Otherwise, start up the Adobe Reader by double-clicking its desktop icon or by using the Windows Start - Programs menu. Then, open the just-saved copy of the PDF file from your computer.

Use a free alternative web browser such as Firefox, Opera, or Google Chrome.

Use a free alternative PDF reader such as Foxit Reader or eXPert PDF Reader