How to open links in a PDF

If you’ve ever struggled with how to open a link in PDFs, you’re not alone.

In this guide, we’ll take you through how to do it.

We’ll also explore some of the reasons why those pesky links might not be functioning as they should.

How to click on a link in a PDF

PDF is a very popular format for digital business paperwork, like invoices.

However, if you usually only use it for creating simple documents or reading content, clicking links can be a little tricky at first. It’s easy once you know how, though, so let’s dive in.

How to open PDF links in Adobe Reader

In Adobe Acrobat Reader, the first thing to do is choose the “Select” tool.

To do this, go to the Tools menu and click on “Select & Zoom”, then “Select”.

You can also tap the arrow icon in the toolbar or right-click with your mouse and tap “Select Tool.”

You’ll find that your mouse pointer has now turned into a friendly-looking arrow.

All you have to do then is hover over the link with your pointer and click it as usual.

And voilà! It should work. If it doesn’t, try downloading the latest version of Reader and give it another go.

How to open hyperlinks in a PDF on Mac

Things can be a little trickier if you’re using a Mac.

If you’re unable to click on hyperlinks in a PDF, it could be because you’re using Preview, the default PDF reader on macOS.

The problem there is that Preview doesn’t have the auto-link detection feature that Reader has.

It’s really one of those “I wouldn’t start from here” problems.

There are ways to convert PDF files so that hyperlinks remain readable on macOS.

However, quite often, doing this disturbs the original formatting of the document. 

So, the best answer, really, is to download Adobe Reader and then follow the advice in the previous section.

Why can’t I open links in a PDF?

Being unable to click on a link can be a frustrating experience. Why doesn’t it just work?

Let’s drill down into the details of what could be going on behind the scenes.

That way, you should at least be able to avoid these issues when you’re creating PDF documents yourself.

Incorrect conversion

When you convert another file format to PDF, the URLs aren’t always detected automatically.

The usual reason for this is that the settings are wrong in the conversion tool you’re using. 

In Acrobat, make sure you’ve got this option enabled by going to Edit -> Preferences -> General.

If it’s not selected, the hyperlinks in your converted files won’t work.

Incorrect URL

Another common problem is simply that the URL is wrong.

It’s easy to make a mistake when copying and pasting a URL into a link field, so it’s always best to double-check. 

In general, it’s good practice to give everything a final proofread once you’ve finished creating your document.

And that includes clicking on all the links yourself so you can be sure they’re all working properly.

No https:// or http://

Similarly, if you don’t have https:// or http:// at the start of your URL, that can cause an issue.

The best way of inserting links is to go to Edit PDF and choose the links tool in the toolbar. 

Then select “Add/Edit web or document link”.

Your pointer will change into a crosshair symbol. Move to the place in the document you want to add the link and draw a rectangle.

The link will sit inside. Click on “Open a Web Page”, then type in the URL.

Internet connection issue

Then, of course, there’s our old friend, “internet connection issue”.

If you’re clicking the link and something’s happening, but you’re not being taken to the right page, that could be why. 

We’re all familiar with how exasperating this can be. It’s best to raise it with your server team or internet provider and wait it out with a cup of coffee.

No auto-link detection

Finally, it could just be that there’s no auto-link detection.

We’ve already mentioned this in the section about incorrect conversion and when talking about Preview for macOS.

However, it’s a problem that can arise in various ways, so it’s worth going over it again.

You may find, for example, that the hyperlinks in your PDF work on some devices and not on others. Which in itself can be pretty perplexing.

It’s usually down to the fact that different devices use different apps to access PDFs, and only some of them support automatic link detection. 

Even Adobe Reader for iOS and Android can suffer from this issue, so if opening a link in PDFs is only a problem when you’re using a mobile device, this is probably why.

Add more flair to your PDFs with hyperlinks

There’s no doubt a PDF with working links makes a more professional impression. 

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how to open links in PDFs.

And with PandaDoc’s all-in-one document workflow solution, you’ll be creating contracts, quotes, and templates in PDFs in no time.

What’s more, with PandaDoc it couldn’t be simpler to add signatures to PDFs and to get them signed.

Our suite of PDF editing tools makes it swift and simple to modify, write on, and sign PDFs.

Find out more about how PandaDoc can help your business, by signing up for a free 14-day trial now!