SOLVED: Adobe Reader X hangs after opening a PDF file

Some time ago i noticed that when I opened a PDF file, Adobe Reader X stopped responding for sometime. I noticed it happens on Windows 2003, Windows 7 and Windows 2008. after some investigation I found a solution in disabling Adobe’s “new” Protected Mode feature.

  1. Open Adobe Reader X
  2. navigate to Edit->Preferences->General
  3. clear the check-mark at “Enable Protected Mode at startup”
  4. Click OK to save the changes (acknowledge the warning)
  5. Shutdown Adobe Reader X

You can also disable protected mode through a registry key

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Adobe\Acrobat Reader\10.0\FeatureLockDown]


EDIT: In Acrobat Reader XI the location hast changed to: Edit->Preferences->Security (Enhanced)


60 Comments to “SOLVED: Adobe Reader X hangs after opening a PDF file”

  1. bart 14 May 2012 at 18:13 #


    I’m experiencing the same problem and disabling protected mode seems to be a feasible work-around at first. I didn’t know what this mode is being used for so I did a short research: With protected mode enabled PDFs will be opened in a sandbox. Considering the variety of security holes in Adobe’s software I’d thus recommend keeping the protected mode activated and trying to find a different solution:
    – Reinstall Adobe Reader
    – Use a different PDF viewer

    I don’t know about sandboxing in other PDF viewers but one might use an additional sandbox for maximum security.


  2. toni 23 October 2012 at 11:20 #

    great work. was really annoying

    • Anonymous 7 August 2014 at 02:50 #

      you are a bloody Legend. I have been putting up with this problem for ages!


  3. crazy 16 December 2012 at 08:00 #

    I just assume this was a minor bug or performance issue on my PC. This solves my problem of perma-stuck for about 10 seconds every time when i tried opening a simple PDF documents. This webpage should be stickied everywhere else on the web.

  4. passby 6 January 2013 at 09:00 #

    solution confirmed…Thank you

  5. Deepak 16 January 2013 at 11:28 #

    Thanks it worked.

  6. Anonymous 20 February 2013 at 05:30 #

    Worked a charm!!!

  7. Marvl 2 March 2013 at 06:37 #

    I had the problem and the solution was simple. Right click the file and select “Troubleshoot Compatibility” and it changed to run in XP SP3 mode. Am using Win 8 Pro 64 bit and it works just fine.

  8. Lou 9 March 2013 at 18:37 #

    wow,, this really helps. I was getting frustrated every time i open pdf and have to wait 10 or 15 sec. I knew it was not my pc since I have solid state hard-drive… Sounds like a patch for a bigger problem… I have to say Adobe needs to fix the security hold rather than taking a short cut like this. sounds like a manager’s decision to do this way…

  9. ba 10 March 2013 at 19:58 #

    it does not work

  10. Centium 12 March 2013 at 18:45 #

    This didn’t solve the problem. Still hanging after opening a PDF…

  11. Ottzen 4 April 2013 at 21:58 #

    Thanks for the tip 🙂

  12. CM 30 April 2013 at 19:41 #

    Not only does Adobe Reader freeze, but when I try to open it to uncheck Protected Mode, I either get a huge display that doesn’t even fit my 24″ monitor screen, or I get a tiny display that shows checked boxes but absolutely no text. Either way, I can’t do anything. I’ve tried deleting Reader, rebooting and reloading, but nothing helps. Has anyone seen this?

  13. […] source: […]

  14. Sara 28 May 2013 at 12:27 #

    I can’t even get to preferences. it hangs like in 2secs after opening. what to do???

  15. bob 8 June 2013 at 23:46 #

    bingo Thanks so much

  16. tommynoble 16 July 2013 at 20:09 #

    The setting in the acrobat reader preferences was ineffective, but the registry setting appears to have worked!

    You can also disable protected mode through a registry key

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Adobe\Acrobat Reader\10.0\FeatureLockDown]


  17. JR 16 October 2013 at 19:52 #

    I have Adobe Reader XI v11.0.5 and the ‘Enable Protected Mode at startup’ option is located in Edit->Preferences->Security(Enhanced) instead of Edit->Preferences->General
    Unchecking it resolved the issue for me as well. Thanks!

  18. vinayaksm 11 November 2013 at 12:37 #

    This worked swiftly thanks…

  19. SB 12 November 2013 at 13:31 #

    Thank you. The only solution that actually worked for me. Wish I had found this earlier.

  20. Daniel 21 January 2014 at 05:18 #

    There is another reason why Acrobat can freeze for a moment every time you open a file. If you opened a PDF document from a remote network drive, and that drive later becomes unavailable, Acrobat will freeze at every start-up for as long as the remote PDF remains in the list of recently open documents.

    You can just open 5 different locally stored PDF files to fix this. This will propagate the missing remote file out of the recent document list, and Acrobat will no longer try to reach the disconnected drive.

  21. Skorpya7 22 January 2014 at 00:04 #

    Worked perfectly, thanks.

  22. Anonymous 27 January 2014 at 00:30 #

    thanks! It worked, no more frustration!

  23. Basha 16 February 2014 at 14:56 #

    It worked…Great thanks

    • Lorrie 28 June 2016 at 12:00 #

      I’m not quite sure how to say this; you made it exrmlteey easy for me!

  24. Anonymous 24 February 2014 at 23:15 #

    Great Sir

  25. Gargoil 10 March 2014 at 10:50 #

    Thank you very very much

  26. terrijack 13 March 2014 at 00:15 #

    I had the same problem as Sara.

  27. terrijack 13 March 2014 at 00:18 #

    I can’t get to the preferences before Adobe Reader freezes and closes. I don’t know how to use the registry key method. =(

  28. Kakashimoto 14 March 2014 at 03:02 #

    it didnt work for me though.
    it still doesnt work after i uncheck “Enable Protected Mode at startup”

    would anyone still want to help me

  29. user 15 March 2014 at 03:59 #

    Thank you, it really helped, the constant freezes were very frustrating.

    • Estella 28 June 2016 at 14:25 #

      You’re the greeatst! JMHO

  30. Anonymous 27 April 2014 at 11:59 #


  31. Hany 8 May 2014 at 14:40 #

    Great efforts thanks :SOLVED

  32. ActuallyFixed 16 May 2014 at 01:35 #

    If these steps don’t work try navigating to the Adobe Reader folder (ex: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Reader 11.0\Reader) and run the eula.exe and Accept the agreement. After 4 years of this problem this finally worked.

    • Anonymous 18 September 2014 at 13:13 #

      Accepting the agreement fixed it for me.

  33. Mandy 8 June 2014 at 12:34 #

    Works Perfectly !!!! Thanks !

  34. JR 20 August 2014 at 20:48 #

    I have Adobe Reader XI v11.0.5 and the ‘Enable Protected Mode at startup’ option is located in Edit->Preferences->Security(Enhanced) instead of Edit->Preferences->General
    Unchecking it resolved the issue for me as well. Thanks!

    Above option works…


  35. iakoubtchik 12 September 2014 at 19:35 #

    Running Adobe Reader in XP SP3 compatibility mode fixes all freezing issues instantly.

  36. justmetamm 29 October 2014 at 18:52 #

    After updating to XI I could not open a PDF without first opening the program, as an administrator, then opening the file. Was never going to be a good pipeline. The fix completely worked. The option is now under Security (Enhanced) instead of General as JR pointed out.

  37. Obi 6 December 2014 at 04:10 #

    This simply worked. Thanks for sharing.

  38. Anonymous 5 February 2015 at 09:21 #

    Many thanks, fixed. Keep up the good work.

  39. Richard Simkus 6 February 2015 at 12:12 #

    I had an issue opening PDFs from search results using IE11 Windows 7 Pro. IE used to crash. I fixed it by unchecking the “Display PDF in browser” option in Edit -> Preferences -> Internet (I use Acrobat Profession). I am sure this option is available in all Adobe readers but may be located in a different place.

  40. […] the clouds. PDF files that Adobe Reader struggled to open, Foxit opened within a few seconds. No hang! The ribbon-based interface was more familiar and modern, and tabs for individual documents instead […]

  41. Marco 15 April 2015 at 13:46 #

    Thanks a stack. Much appreciated.

  42. Nandu 22 April 2015 at 13:05 #

    The issue solved. very useful information.

  43. Anonymous 8 June 2015 at 08:51 #

    Amazing.. Thanks..
    For Reader XI,
    Goto Edit->Preferences->Security(Enhanced)

  44. RussianJew 12 June 2015 at 01:22 #

    Worked for me. Thank you for a hint.

  45. Dr. Abhijeet Safai 2 July 2015 at 11:29 #

    Excellent solution. It worked for me. Thanks a lot.

  46. Anonymous 4 July 2015 at 01:59 #

    it work

  47. Anonymous 5 August 2015 at 13:05 #

    I used a combination of almost all tips given here. So far it is working. =)

  48. MB 30 August 2015 at 13:15 #

    the combatation of these to solved it for me.

    • Anonymous 30 September 2015 at 21:28 #

      Click on tools to close tools pane. Edit > Preferences > Documents > check “Restore last view settings when re-opening documents”

  49. CHARLES 29 September 2015 at 23:59 #

    thanks so much. unchecking the protected mode in XI works. i wish i would have found this site before breaking many items in house… thx!!

  50. Anonymous 15 December 2015 at 07:56 #

    I am using windows 7, Edit->Preferences->Security (Enhanced) this solution worked for me – Thanks

  51. A Thomas 8 January 2016 at 19:02 #

    Great appears to work. Thanks!

  52. antedwards 9 May 2016 at 10:47 #

    Thanks very much! good work!

  53. Annoyed guy 9 June 2016 at 20:06 #

    Worked for me. My dad was about to buy a new PC because of this annoying problem trying to read PDF files. Now he can cling onto his ancient PC for another 10 years. LOL!

    Adobe Reader X
    Windows Vista

  54. Anonymous 11 August 2016 at 10:35 #

    Thanks for the solution. It worked..

  55. Arun 8 September 2016 at 19:00 #

    Works man!!! Thanks

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