Can Android read PDF?

The Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format created by Adobe in 1993 that is designed to present documents in a consistent way, independent of the platform, hardware or application software used to create or view the documents ( Shorthand, An introduction to the PDF file format). PDF files can contain text, images, form fields, audio, video, and business logic. They use a cross-platform PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print documents the way the author intended.

PDFs are popular for reading documents on mobile devices because they provide a fixed layout that looks the same regardless of the device, operating system or screen size. The format allows documents to be distributed electronically so they can be viewed without dedicated word processing or desktop publishing software. PDFs are also useful on mobile because they can be easily shared via email, cloud storage or apps, annotated with digital signatures, highlights and notes, and searched for keywords.

Default PDF Readers on Android

Android devices come with some pre-installed apps that allow you to view PDF files. The most common default PDF readers include:

  • Google Drive – Android phones usually have the Google Drive app pre-installed, which allows you to open, view and annotate PDFs stored in your Google Drive cloud storage. You can highlight, add comments and draw on PDFs using Google Drive (
  • Documents by Google – This is Google’s dedicated PDF and document viewing app, also often preloaded on Android devices. It provides basic PDF viewing and annotation features (
  • Files by Google – The Files app lets you access downloads and local storage to view PDFs and other files. It has limited PDF functionality.
  • Samsung Gallery – On Samsung Galaxy devices, the Gallery app can open and view PDFs stored locally or downloaded.

These default apps allow basic PDF viewing, but may lack advanced features like document signing, editing, and conversion offered by third-party apps.

Third-party PDF Readers

In addition to the built-in document viewer, there are many third-party PDF apps available on the Google Play Store. Two of the most popular and full-featured options are Adobe Acrobat Reader and Foxit PDF Reader.

Adobe Acrobat Reader is one of the most widely used PDF apps across platforms. The Android version provides robust tools for viewing, annotating, organizing and editing PDFs. Key features include the ability to fill out forms, sign documents, highlight text, add sticky notes, search within documents, reorder pages and more. It also supports password-protected files.

Foxit PDF Reader is another excellent choice that offers smooth performance and a clean, minimalist interface. Like Adobe Reader, Foxit allows for annotations, signatures, and form-filling. It also includes useful tools like the ability to read PDFs aloud and convert PDFs to Word or PowerPoint formats. Additional perks are its small file size and lack of ads.

Both apps allow for smooth scrolling, quick page loading, and reflowable text to optimize the reading experience on mobile devices. They represent some of the top-rated and most full-featured PDF apps available from third-party developers.

Viewing PDFs in Chrome

One convenient way to view PDFs on Android devices is directly within the Chrome browser. Since version 80, Chrome for Android has included a built-in PDF viewer that allows you to open and view PDFs without downloading them (1).

To use Chrome’s PDF viewer, simply navigate to a webpage that contains a PDF link. When you tap the link, the PDF will open directly within the Chrome app, rather than downloading or opening in another app. You can then scroll through, search, zoom, and pan the PDF just as you would in a dedicated PDF reader app (1).

Chrome’s integrated PDF viewer provides a quick and easy way to view PDFs on the go without having to install any additional apps. However, the functionality is limited compared to dedicated PDF apps. You cannot annotate, fill out forms, or edit PDFs within Chrome (2). But for basic viewing of PDF content, it can be a convenient option if you regularly use Chrome on your Android device.




Annotating and Editing PDFs

There are several excellent apps on Android for annotating and editing PDFs. Some of the most popular options include:

Xodo PDF Reader & Editor – This free app allows you to annotate PDFs with highlights, underlines, strikethroughs, comments, and drawings. You can also edit text and images in the PDF.

PDFelement – This powerful PDF editor has robust annotation tools like sticky notes, highlights, underlines, and the ability to add textboxes. The premium version also lets you edit PDF text, images, links, and pages.

Adobe Acrobat Reader – The official Adobe PDF reader for Android allows you to annotate with highlights, notes, drawings, and stamps. You can also fill out forms and sign PDF documents.

Foxit PDF Editor – Foxit offers precise annotation options like highlight, underline, strikeout, shapes, text box, stamps, and more. It also includes basic PDF editing functionality.

These apps make it easy to annotate PDFs on your Android device for notes, collaboration, forms, and more. The top options provide a range of annotation tools while still being free and user-friendly.

Creating PDFs on Android

There are a few different ways to create PDF files directly on your Android device without needing a computer. Many Android devices come with built-in apps or capabilities to generate PDFs from other file types or by scanning documents.

One easy way is to use the Google Drive app. You can open Google Drive and tap the “+” button to add a new document. Choose the option to scan or take a photo of a document, which will be converted into a PDF file saved in your Google Drive. This is handy for digitizing physical documents into PDF format just using your phone’s camera [1].

You can also create PDF files within many Android apps. For example, Google Docs allows you to download any document as a PDF by going to the menu and selecting “Download” then “PDF Document.” Other office apps like Microsoft Word generally have similar options to export or print to PDF. There are also dedicated PDF creator apps you can download, such as Adobe Scan or CamScanner, that are optimized for converting images, photos or documents into PDF files.

Overall, Android offers versatile built-in and third-party solutions for generating PDF documents from scratch or by converting various file types into standardized PDF format.

Managing and Organizing PDFs

Many PDF apps for Android include library features to help you organize and manage your collection of PDF documents. For example, Adobe Acrobat Reader provides the ability to view PDFs by folder, easily search through your files, bookmark pages, and fill out forms. However, some 3rd party PDF apps have more robust library capabilities.

PDFelement (TechRadar) offers advanced organization with customizable categories and the ability to add tags, annotations, and notes to each file. You can also edit the title, author, subject, and other metadata for each PDF to make searching easier. PDFelement makes it simple to find any file quickly in your library.

Xodo (Wondershare) also enables tagging PDFs and organizing them into smart folders based on tags. The app can sync your library across devices using cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox. Xodo’s Quick Access view surfaces your most used files first to speed up document retrieval.

Overall, specialized PDF apps provide more ways to categorize, tag, annotate and search your collection of PDFs. Their library management tools make it easy to handle large numbers of documents and quickly find what you need.

Converting PDFs to Other Formats

There are many great apps on Android that allow you to convert PDF files to other editable formats like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more. This can be useful if you need to edit or reuse content from a PDF file.

Some popular PDF to Word converter apps include PDF to Word Converter and PDF Converter – PDF to Word. These apps allow you to quickly convert PDF files into .doc or .docx Word documents.

For spreadsheets, iLovePDF recommends apps like Adobe Acrobat and PDFelement that can convert PDF tables into Excel spreadsheets. This preserves the table structure and data.

Converting PDF files into PowerPoint presentations is also possible using apps like PDF to PowerPoint Converter. The app extracts images and text from PDF pages into PowerPoint slides.

So whether you need to edit a PDF report, extract data from a PDF table, or repurpose a PDF presentation, there are easy to use apps on Android to convert PDFs into editable Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more.

Security Features

Android offers various ways to protect and secure your PDF files. One option is password protection using Adobe Acrobat. You can password protect PDFs directly on your Android device using the Adobe Acrobat app. This allows you to restrict access to your PDFs by requiring a password to open them. You can set both owner and user passwords for further control over permissions.

There are also third party Android apps like PDF Anti-Copy that provide additional PDF security features. These types of apps allow you to password protect PDFs, prevent copying/editing, and control other permissions. When sharing sensitive PDFs, using password protection and permission settings can help keep your documents secure.

Overall, Android offers robust PDF security through built-in and third party tools. Applying password protection, setting permissions, and leveraging apps like Adobe Acrobat and PDF Anti-Copy can help you safely view, share, and restrict access to PDFs on your Android device.


Android devices come with built-in support for viewing, editing, and creating PDF files. The default document viewer app allows basic PDF functionality, while third-party apps from the Google Play Store like Adobe Acrobat Reader, Foxit PDF Reader, and Xodo PDF Reader provide more advanced features.

You can view PDFs right in the Chrome browser, and use annotation tools to highlight, add comments, sign documents, and more. Apps like Adobe Scan can even turn photos into editable PDFs quickly and easily.

Android also makes it simple to fill out and sign PDF forms, rearrange pages, merge multiple PDFs together, add passwords or encryption, and convert to and from other file formats. Overall, Android provides robust PDF support through both first-party and third-party apps.

With the right tools, Android devices offer efficient and flexible PDF management capabilities for personal and professional use. The key is choosing an app that provides the specific PDF features you need.

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