PRB: Embedded PDF Documents May Not Open When Activated in Adobe Acrobat Reader

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This article was written about products for which Microsoft no longer offers support. Therefore, this article is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.


When you open a document containing a PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Reader and then double-click the file attachment to open the file, the PDF file does not opened as expected. A second attempt to activate the embedded PDF may succeed and open the file.

This problem occurs on client computers where Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0+ is installed.


Resolve this problem by linking to the PDF rather than embedding it. See the "More Information" section of this article for information on linking to the PDF.

More Information

The behavior you see when you attempt to activate an embedded PDF may vary with the host document and operating system. When you attempt to open the embedded PDF, you may experience one or more of the following problems or error messages:
  • No error occurs but the PDF is not opened in Acrobat Reader.
  • Acrobat Reader reports an error message:
    There was an error opening the document. A file read error has occurred.
  • The host document reports an error message that the server application cannot be found or started:
    The server application, source file, or item cannot be found.
    Cannot start the source application for this object.

Steps to Reproduce Behavior

  1. Start WordPad.
  2. On the Insert menu, select Object, and then select the Create From File option. Type in the full path and file name for the PDF, and then click OK to embed the file into the WordPad document.
  3. Double-click the icon, and note that the PDF is not opened.
  4. A second attempt to open the PDF by double-clicking the icon may succeed.
To resolve this problem, repeat the preceding steps and, in step 2, select the Link option in the Insert Object dialog box.

NOTE: The third-party products that are discussed in this article are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding the performance or reliability of these products.

Article ID: 274717 - Last Review: Jun 17, 2014 - Revision: 1