How to Embed a PDF Document in an Email Message

Send graphical invitations or newsletters by email.
Image Credit: fizkes/iStock/GettyImages

PDFs are intended as a shareable file format, but sending one over email isn't always as simple as you might hope. While you can easily send the PDF as an attachment to the message – and this is often the best approach – embedding a PDF with hyperlinks into Outlook and other email providers isn't supported. Instead, you have to use one of the workarounds that involve putting the PDF in a different format before emailing it.

You Can’t Embed a PDF

In basic terms, you can't embed a PDF in email so that the whole file is accessible through the email application as if you were reading it with Adobe Acrobat. You used to be able to do this by going to Insert and then Object before navigating to the PDF, but this option isn't supported by platforms such as Outlook and Gmail anymore. Plus, this action usually converts the PDF to a low-resolution image file that you probably wouldn't want to use anyway.

Embed PDF as an Image

A better approach is to convert the PDF to a high-quality image and then insert the image in the email. First, choose an application or a website, such as or, to convert the PDF to a JPEG image file. You can do this through Adobe Acrobat if you have a paid membership but not with the free program. Many online resources accomplish the same goal as well.

From there, use the functionality for inserting images to insert the converted PDF. With Gmail, for example, use the Insert photo option. The icon looks like a picture with mountains at the bottom. With Outlook, use Insert pictures inline, which has basically the same icon. From there, go to the image for the first page of the PDF and embed it. The PDF is saved as one image per page, so you probably have to go through the process multiple times to embed the entire PDF.

Convert PDF to Email Body

You can also insert a PDF into the body of your email if you convert it to a text file. This is the best approach if you have a primarily text-based PDF containing hyperlinks and want to send it as an email without doing so as an attachment. You can convert a PDF to text using Adobe Acrobat – even using the free edition – by opening the PDF, going to File and then choosing Save as text from the menu.

As an alternative, find an online tool to convert your PDF to text, and then go through the process to convert it. Usually, you upload the PDF to the website and then download the converted file.

From this point, copy the text from the file by highlighting it and pressing Ctrl+C or right-click it and choose Copy. Then you go to the point of your email where you want to insert the content from the PDF and paste it using either Ctrl+V or right-click and Paste.

Send a PDF as Attachment

Although it isn't technically "embedding" the PDF, it's worth noting that attaching the PDF to the email is the easiest way to send the content. Press the paper clip icon on your chosen email application and navigate to the PDF file you want to send. The sender then receives the PDF as a file along with the email message. Although you can't embed specific parts of the PDF in a given location in the email, it's still easy to access this way, and it's the most commonly used approach.

references & resources