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How to Add a PDF Viewer in WordPress

Do you want to add a PDF viewer in WordPress?

By embedding PDF files in your website, you can make sure those files always have the same layout, no matter what device the visitor is using. These files can also keep people on your website for longer and add value for your uses.

In this article, we will show you how to add a PDF viewer in WordPress.

How to add a PDF viewer in WordPress

Why Do You Need a PDF Viewer in WordPress?

Many websites use PDF files to share information about their services and products. For example, if you have a restaurant website, then you might publish your menu as an online PDF.

You can always upload a PDF to your website and then add a download link in WordPress. However, this isn’t the best user experience for people who want to quickly look at a PDF document or don’t want to download the full file.

Instead, you can add a PDF viewer in WordPress and then show PDFs directly on your website. This allows visitors to see the document without downloading it, which is particularly useful for smartphone and tablet users.

It also keeps visitors on your website, which may increase your pageviews and reduce your bounce rate.

With that being said, let’s see how you can easily add a PDF viewer to WordPress. Simply use the quick links to jump straight to the method you want to use:

Method 1: Add a PDF Viewer Using the Block Editor (Easy)

The easiest way to show PDFs on your WordPress website is by using the built-in File block.

This method doesn’t require a special plugin, but you can only customize the viewer in a few ways. If you want more advanced customizations and features, then we recommend using a WordPress plugin instead.

To get started, simply open the page or post where you want to add the PDF viewer and then click on the ‘+’ button to add a new block.

After that, start typing in ‘File’ and select the right block when it appears.

The WordPress built-in File block

If you’ve already uploaded your PDF to the WordPress media library, then click on the ‘Media Library’ button. You can then select the PDF that you want to embed.

If you haven’t already uploaded the PDF, then click on ‘Upload’ and then choose a file from your computer.

Uploading a PDF file to WordPress

WordPress will automatically choose a size for the embedded PDF.

Depending on the size of the file, the default view may not show the full document. However, visitors can zoom in and out and scroll through the PDF using the toolbar settings.

How to add a PDF viewer in WordPress

If you prefer, then you can change the PDF viewer’s height to show more or less of the embedded document.

To do this, simply use the ‘Height in pixels’ slider in the right-hand menu.

Changing the height of an embedded PDF

Sometimes, visitors may want to download a PDF, so they always have it close by. For example, customers may want to download the user manual for your most popular product or the programming schedule for an upcoming event or conference.

By default, WordPress shows a ‘Download’ icon in the toolbar and a button below the PDF.

How to allow visitors to download a PDF in WordPress

The ‘Download’ button may be helpful for visitors who are unfamiliar with the different icons in the PDF toolbar.

With that in mind, you may want to leave the ‘Download’ button enabled. However, if you don’t want to include this duplicate content, then you can click to disable the ‘Show Download Button’ toggle.

Hiding the Download button in a PDF viewer

When you are happy with how the PDF is set up, either click on ‘Update’ or ‘Publish’ to make your changes live.

Now if you visit your WordPress website, you’ll see the PDF viewer in action.

A PDF viewer, created with the built-in WordPress File block

Method 2: Add a PDF Viewer in WordPress Using a Plugin (More Customizable)

The built-in WordPress File block is a good option if you simply want to embed a few PDFs. However, if you want more control over the viewer, then we recommend using a plugin instead.

PDF.js Viewer is one of the best PDF plugins for WordPress. It allows you to change the height and width of the PDF viewer and remove buttons from the PDF toolbar.

It also comes with a fullscreen mode, which is perfect for showing longer documents, such as reference materials for online courses.

A PDF viewed in fullscreen mode

First, you’ll need to install and activate PDF.js Viewer. If you need help, then please see our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, go to Settings » PDFjs Viewer to configure the plugin’s settings.

The PDF.js Viewer plugin settings

Most of the time, you can override these default settings when embedding each PDF. For example, you can change an individual PDF’s size or scale.

However, we still recommend changing the default settings to better match your own requirements, as this can save you a lot of time and effort.

By default, the plugin includes Download, Print, and Search buttons in the PDF toolbar. If you want to remove any of these buttons, then simply uncheck the box next to them.

Hiding buttons from the PDF viewer toolbar

You can also change the default embed height and width and the ‘Viewer Scale.’

Out-of-the-box, PDF.js Viewer shows the PDF without any sidebar so visitors can see the full document when they arrive on the page. They can open the sidebar at any point by clicking on the ‘Toggle Sidebar’ button, as you can see in the following image.

Adding a sidebar to the PDF viewer in WordPress

If you plan to include longer documents or multi-page PDFs, then it may be helpful to show the sidebar by default.

To do this, simply open the ‘Page Mode’ dropdown menu and select either Thumbs, Bookmarks, or Attachments.

Changing the mode in a PDF viewer

PDF.js Viewer allows visitors to open the PDF in fullscreen mode. By default, visitors can open this mode by clicking on ‘View Fullscreen’ above the embedded PDF.

To replace the text with your own custom messaging, simply type into the ‘Fullscreen Link Text’ field.

Customizing the PDF's fullscreen mode

You can also choose whether the fullscreen PDF opens in a new tab using the ‘Fullscreen Links in New Tabs’ box.

Launching a new tab will help to keep visitors on your website, but it can be annoying for mobile and tablet users.

Customizing the PDF viewer's fullscreen mode

Fullscreen mode makes it easier to read long documents, so we recommend leaving this feature enabled. However, if you don’t want to use it, then you can uncheck the box next to ‘Show Fullscreen Link.’

When you are happy with how the plugin is set up, click on ‘Save Changes.’

You are now ready to add a PDF viewer in WordPress. Simply open the page or post where you want to show the PDF and then click on the ‘+’ button.

You can now start typing in ‘Embed PDF.js Viewer’ and select the right block when it appears.

Adding a PDF to your WordPress website using a plugin

After that, click on ‘Choose PDF’ to open the WordPress media library.

You can now either choose a PDF from the library or upload a file from your computer.

Embedding a PDF on your WordPress website using a block

The plugin will display the PDF using your default settings, but you can fine-tune how this PDF looks and acts using the settings in the right-hand menu.

Here, you can change the PDF’s height, width, and scale. You can also remove or customize the ‘View Fullscreen’ link.

Customizing the PDF embed block using a WordPress plugin

Finally, you can choose to remove or show the ‘Download’ and ‘Print’ buttons.

When you’re happy with how the PDF is set up, simply click on ‘Update’ or ‘Publish.’ You can now visit your WordPress blog or website to see the embedded PDF viewer.

A PDF, embedded directly on a WordPress blog or website

Bonus: How To Make Money From Your Embedded PDFs

If you have quality, useful PDFs, then you can use them to make money online with WordPress.

After embedding a PDF document in your website, you can turn that page or post into exclusive members-only content. Visitors can then buy a membership in order to access that page or post and see the embedded PDF.

The easiest way to turn WordPress into a membership site is by using MemberPress. It is the best WordPress membership plugin that allows you to turn any page or post into exclusive subscriber-only content, including embedded PDFs.

Make money by selling PDFs online

We have a complete guide on making a WordPress membership website with step-by-step instructions to help you get started.

We also suggest using Easy Digital Downloads to manage and sell PDF documents on your website. You can sell all kinds of digital goods easily and embed PDFs in the product pages as previews, too.

We hope this article helped you add a PDF Viewer in WordPress. You may also want to take a look at our guide on how to create an email newsletter or check out our list of the best email marketing services for small businesses.

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26 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Hey WPBeginner readers,
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  2. I see that PDF Viewer has not been updated in 3 years, and has not been tested with my current version of WordPress (v4.9.1). Is this still the suggested plugin to use? It’s looking like no one is maintaining it, perhaps?

  3. if am clicking print for my word press web page i am getting the page which is not properly aligned.
    I am getting all the urls and content combined

  4. On the plugin page it says:
    “This plugin hasn’t been updated in over 2 years. It may no longer be maintained or supported and may have compatibility issues when used with more recent versions of WordPress.”

    Maybe that’s why it does not work for some.

  5. hi i want to publish a book in my wordpress site and people only read the book so can u refer me any easy pdf reader plugin

  6. This is not working for me on the last version of WP. Someone know a workaround? Or another option that works?

  7. Hi guys,

    the problem with PDF plugins like this ones, is that you cannot remove sibar(s) when generating your PDF, an that changes style a lot !

    If ever I find one that has this so useful feature, I come back here to tell you ! Or maybe someone found one somewhere ?

  8. Is it possible to set the viewer by opening a file to 110% view automaticly and how i gonna do that?

    It’s a perfect plugin used by WordPress 4.4.2 and twenty-eleven theme

  9. Hi Syed,
    Many thanks for the ‘heads up’ on this issue.

    I’ve been using the following free version of this plugin for the last two years, though have just upgraded to the premium due to the high number of fPDF’s held on my clients site:

    So far I’ve had no issues at all with the premium version, I’m also able to ‘unbrand’ the document, plus track the number of download/views.

  10. I read the info that you indicated. Looks like the pdf viewer is not available for Too bad. I understand the issue that readers who click on my url for a pdf will go to a separate page, and may not return to my blog. That is a problem. I didn’t know that I would have this a need to display pdfs when I started with, or I may have made a different choice.

    • Am I correct that is the required application for the embedding plugin? If so, I suggest that information be clearly stated as a requirement. All references that I saw are to the generic WordPress, so it’s not possible (Did I miss it?) to determine whether there is a specific application requirement. It would help us newbies to avoid mistakes, and direct us to potentially making different decisions.

  11. I really appreciate your posts that identify a DIY (do it yourself) issue in wordpress, and then provide some alternate solutions, usually involving plug ins.

    “But”, am wondering if you take the time to read some of the reviews posted by users on the plugin page in directory, and also the LAST UPDATED info.

    For example, this PDF VIEWER plugin was last updated “8 months” ago, and is compatible up to WP 4.2.6

    Also, per one reviewer….

    “November 4, 2015 for WP 4.3.1
    This plugin was precisely what I needed. Thanks!

    ******Only concerns are:
    (1) This plugin leverages Mozilla PDF.JS framework. As of 2015-NOV, this plugin is significantly behind the present version of that framework:

    Plugin Settings page states:
    PDF.js Version Date
    Stable 1.1.1 18 Mar 2015
    Beta 1.1.114 7 May 2015
    PDF.JS page states as of 2015-NOV:
    Stable 1.1.366
    Beta 1.1.469

    SUMMARY > Don’t you think it’s good practice to use plugins with good ratings, but that are also consistently updated and highly rated ? If you do, please include some info in your posts that acknowledge a suggested plugin hasn’t been updated in a while, but appears to be the best solution among the ones currently available.

  12. I use, not .org. Can I embed pdfs and other documents using a plug-in? I have found varying references, and want to be certain, before experimenting and possibly damaging m existing blog. edit page does have a location labeled plugins. That also leads me to believe that I can use them, yet, references say “no”. I’ll appreciate an explanation.


  13. Hey Syed,
    I think this is the first of its kind pots on wordpress. I did not see a post on PDF for WordPpress, but many of SEO and bloggers are looking for this pluging. So thanks to introduce this to the WP industry. This could be very helpful for tutorials as well.

  14. I am using (not .org). I want viewers to see my pdf documents on the same page as the rest of my blog post. Can I install the pdf viewer that is described here, in my blog?

  15. Thanks for this article. For SEO purpose, is it better to add the pdf content in text and add a button to download the link, or to display the pdf only using this viewer plugin ?

    • Like we said, a download link forces users to view the PDF separately. This decreases the time they spend on your page and their chances of coming back to resume browsing your website. You will get the same SEO benefit as adding a download link. Since it is written in JavaScript and compatible with HTML5 search engines can still index your PDF contents if the PDF file has text in it and not just images.


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