Name of Program: Technology Opportunities Program What's New
Research and Evaluation
line connecting logo to top-level navigation bar
Publications and Resources
Conferences and Workshops
Who We Are

Reading .PDF Files

The File Opens, But the Screen Is Blank

Many users have reported a problem opening and reading files in the Adobe Acrobat .PDF format. The problem is that the browser says the file has been opened successfully — and the name of the file is correctly displayed in the browser's "Location" or "Address" bar — but the reality is that no actual text appears on the screen.

Save the File and Read It in Adobe Acrobat

There is a simple way to deal with the problem:

  1. Once the .PDF document is loaded, and the filename is displayed in the browser's Location or Address bar, click "File" on the browser's menu bar at the top of the screen, then click "Save As."

  2. The name of the file you are trying to display (e.g., "boulder-co.pdf") should be displayed on the line labeled "File Name."

  3. Save the file in whatever folder you like, and note its location.

  4. Now, from your Start Menu or from an icon on your Windows desktop, open the Adobe Acrobat Reader and click "File" and then "Open."

  5. Locate the name of the .PDF file you just saved, click on it, and then click "OK."

  6. The file should display properly.
If the Problem Persists, Here Is Another Way

This method is very slightly more complicated, but it works extremely well. The technique is designed for users of Netscape:

  1. Before you load the .PDF file, click on "Edit" in the Netscape menu bar at the top of the screen

  2. When the Edit menu drops down, click on "Preferences"

  3. When the Preferences dialogue box is displayed, click on the little "+" sign next to the word "Advanced" (left side of the dialogue box)

  4. You should now see the words "Cache," "Proxy," and "Smart Update" displayed under the word Advanced.

  5. Click on the word "Cache."

  6. A dialogue box should now be displayed. Click on the button labeled "Clear Memory Cache" and then, when a little confirmation box appears asking if you wish to continue, click on the word "OK."

  7. The confirmation box should disappear after you have clicked on the word OK. Now click on the word "OK" at the bottom of the main dialogue box. This should take you back to the TOP website page.

  8. Now, position your cursor on the name of the .PDF file you wish to view and RIGHT-CLICK on the filename.

  9. Near the bottom of the dialogue box that opens you will see the words "Save Link As" — click on this.

  10. Save the link as if you were saving a regular file (as in the instructions above).

  11. Once you have saved the file using this technique, open it in the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Everyone we have talked to about this problem seems to feel that there is some sort of sporadic incompatiblity between the Adobe plug-in for web browsers and the actual browser software. We have noticed, for example, that when you try to open or download a .PDF file using the browser plug-in, the browser does not always download the entire file to your computer. Obviously this is going to cause problems.

The bottom line is that some users have problems, while for others it's never an issue.

The workarounds described above should be effective because they don't rely on the Adobe plug-in, but rather use the actual Adobe Acrobat Reader, to display the file.

Do the Workarounds Actually Work?

Please let us know if you have any additional problems loading or reading .PDF files from this site.

TOP Home |  NTIA Home |  OTIA Home |  Privacy Policy |  Using This Site |  Contact Us
US Department of Commerce |  Get Updates  |  FAQ