How to read PDFs on Mac.

A woman sitting at a kitchen counter reads a PDF file using a Mac laptop.

PDFs offer much more interactivity than typical document files. Learn how to open and read PDF files on your Mac without losing functionality.

PDFs provide a simple, cleaned-up layout for viewing and reading. On a Mac computer, the native Preview application opens a PDF when downloaded if a separate application is not otherwise indicated as the default viewer.

Another free resource is Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be used for viewing, printing, sharing, and commenting on PDF files. It can also be set as your default PDF viewer.

Opening, viewing, and reading a PDF should be simple and straightforward.

Open the PDF file on your Mac.

On a Mac, you can read PDFs in three simple steps.

  1. Select the PDF and click File > Get Info.
  2. Choose the application you want to use to view the PDF.
  3. Click Open.

You can also make Acrobat your default PDF reader.

  1. Go to File > Get Info.
  2. Select Open with: > Adobe Acrobat.
  3. Click Change All.

On Mac computers, the default application for viewing PDFs is Preview. While this might allow you to read PDFs on a Mac, you’ll only be able to view them and won’t have access to any dynamic or interactive elements.

If you want to edit, use dropdown menus, or sign PDFs, it’s best to open the file with software designed for PDFs, like Adobe Acrobat online services.

PDF reading controls for Mac.

When you open the PDF with Acrobat, you’ll have several options available to help you read through the document:

How to open a PDF in Preview on Mac.

Preview is Mac’s native app for opening and viewing PDFs. You can quickly open PDFs in a few steps.

  1. In the Preview app, open the PDF you want to view.
  2. From there, you can do any of the following:
    • Show thumbnails. Select View > Thumbnails or View > Contact Sheet.
    • Show the document’s table of contents. If the document has a table of contents, you can select View > Table of Contents.
    • Close the sidebar. Select View > Hide Sidebar.
    • Show the pages in a continuing scroll. Choose View > Continuous Scroll.
    • Display one page at a time. Choose View > Single Page.
    • Show two pages next to each other. Choose View > Two Pages.
    • Scroll through pages. Swipe up or down on your trackpad using two fingers.
    • Jump to a specific page. Choose a thumbnail or Go > Go to Page.
    • Go to the next or previous page. Click the Next or Previous button in the Preview toolbar.

Whether it’s official contracts or entertaining articles, PDFs make it easy to read any document on your Mac.

Explore what more you can do with Acrobat Reader to enhance your PDF experience on Mac.