How Do I Associate PDF Files To Adobe Reader?

Mohammad from Denmark writes: I have a problem of making PDF file association in Windows 7, even though I have the Adobe Acrobat reader installed. Removed it and installed again, but still the problem persists. Maybe you have a trick to fix it, in that case would be nice to share it with me and the others.

Windows 7 features several different ways to associate files with specific programs, so if one of them doesn’t take for some reason, there are still other options available to associate PDF files with Adobe Reader. In this situation uninstalling and reinstalling Adobe is always a good idea, as it removes all old settings, but since the reader already went through that process we’ll start with changing the PDF file association instead.

To force Windows to always open a PDF file with Reader, open the Start menu and click the “Default Programs” button on the right side of the menu.

Default Programs

Click the link labeled “Associate a File Type or Protocol with a Program” at the center of the Default Programs window.

Associating Files Window

Scroll down through the list of file extensions and highlight the “pdf” entry, and then click the click “Change Program” button at the top-right corner of the window.

Associating PDF Extensions

Click “Browse” and select the “Adobe Reader” program. Repeat the file association process with the “pdfxml” file extension.

Selecting Adobe Reader

Click the “Close” button and Reader should now automatically open PDF files. If it doesn’t, right-click any PDF file on your computer and select the “Open With” option.

Opening PDF Files

Click “Browse” and select the Adobe Reader program, but make sure the check box at the bottom of the screen labeled “Always use the selected program to open this file” is checked. Click “OK” to associate PDF files with Adobe Reader.

Changing Association Options

If these Windows options don’t do the trick, you can also associate PDF files with Reader directly In the Adobe Reader program itself. Load a PDF file in Reader and open the “Edit” menu at the top of the screen. Select the “Preferences” option at the bottom of the menu.

Preferences Option

Navigate to the “General” tab at the left side of the screen and click the “Select Default PDF Handler” button at the bottom of the window.

Selecting the PDF Handler

Choose your version of Adobe Reader from the drop down menu and then click the “Apply” button.

Selecting the Adobe Version

In most cases the above mentioned steps should fix the problem, but if Windows still isn’t remembering that PDF files should be opened with Reader you likely have an issue in the registry that needs to be manually changed. Keep in mind that changing registry settings can cause serious problems, so be sure to back up any important data before proceeding. To access the registry editor, open the Start menu, type “regedit” in the search box, and click the “regedit” icon.

Opening the Registry Editor

Open the folder labeled “HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT” at the top of the list of registry folders.


Scroll through the list of file types and click the entry labeled “PDFFile.OpenDocuments.”


Locate the entry labeled “Default” in the panel at the right side of the window. Right-click the entry and select “Modify.”

Modifying a Registry Entry

Type “Adobe Acrobat Sharepoint OpenDocuments Component” (without the quotation marks) in the text box and click “OK.” Restart the computer to save the change.

Modifying the Registry Value

In the event your computer still won’t associate PDF files with Adobe Reader, you could instead download and install a different PDF reading program – such as PDF X-Change Viewer, Fox It, or Sumatra PDF – and then associate PDF files with that program instead.

~Ty Arthur

0 thoughts on “How Do I Associate PDF Files To Adobe Reader?

  1. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS you would think that it would be fairly straightforward to set the default program since everything on the internet makes it look so easy. Opened pdf in reader and did your trick and by god that was an annoying past 45 minutes

  2. I tried all three of these options and yet I still can not get .pdf’s to associate with Adobe Reader X or XI. Makes absolutely no sense. I go through the steps to “Open With” but when I select the program it NEVER puts it in the window to where you can then select to “always use this program” I looked at the regedit options and everything appeared just as the screenshots listed. I can open Adobe Reader without any issues but it just won’t accept file association.

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