How to Fix a PDF File Association

By Leighton Sawatzky

Windows keeps a record of which programs you use to open different types of files stored on your computer and automatically uses the correct program to read files you open. This process is called a "file type association." Adobe Acrobat Reader is almost universally associated with PDF files, but sometimes Windows will associate a different program with that file type. You can fix the file association problem with a few steps.

Step 1

Open the "Start" menu and click on "Default Programs."

Step 2

Click "Associate a file type or protocol with a program." The window lists the types of files stored on your computer.

Step 3

Select ".pdf" from the list and click the "Change program..." button in the top right portion of the window.

Step 4

Select the program you want to open PDFs. Windows will display some recommendations. If you don't see Adobe Acrobat Reader in the window, click the "Browse..." button and browse to the location of the Acrobat Reader installation on your computer. Select the program and click "Open." Your computer should now open PDFs with Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can change other file type associations with this process, too.