The Best Ways to View PDF Files on an iPhone: Top Apps & Tips

Viewing PDF files on an iPhone is a straightforward task. With the built-in Files app, you can easily access and read PDF documents directly on your device. Alternatively, there are several third-party applications available for download that offer additional features for managing and viewing PDFs. Following a few simple steps, you can view PDF files on your iPhone with ease.

After completing the action, you’ll be able to open and read PDF files on your iPhone. You can zoom in and out, search for specific text, and even share the PDF with others. If you’ve installed a third-party app, you may also have options to annotate or edit the PDF document.


In today’s digital world, PDF files are ubiquitous. They’re the go-to format for everything from business reports to restaurant menus. But what do you do when you’re on the go and need to view a PDF on your iPhone? Worry not, because your trusty smartphone is more than capable of handling this task.

PDFs, or Portable Document Format files, were designed to maintain the formatting of a document regardless of the device used to view it. This makes them perfect for viewing on a variety of devices, including your iPhone. Whether you’re a student reading course materials, a professional reviewing a contract, or just someone trying to open a file sent in an email, knowing how to view PDF files on your iPhone is a useful skill. It’s a common need for many of us, and thankfully, there are several options at your disposal. Let’s dive into how you can view PDF files on your iPhone, step by step.

Step by Step Tutorial: Viewing PDF Files on iPhone

This section will guide you through the steps of opening and reading a PDF file on your iPhone.

Step 1: Locate the PDF file

Find the PDF file you wish to view on your iPhone.

Locating your PDF file could be as simple as finding it in an email attachment or downloading it from a website. If someone has shared a PDF with you via email, you’ll often find it attached at the bottom of the message. Tapping on the attachment will usually prompt your iPhone to download the file and make it available for viewing.

Step 2: Open the Files app

Launch the Files app on your iPhone to access the downloaded PDF file.

The Files app is Apple’s file management system for iOS devices. Once you’ve downloaded a PDF, it can usually be found in the Files app. Open the app and navigate to the folder where your PDF is saved. This could be in the “Downloads” folder if you got it from the web or an email, or in a specific location if you’ve saved it previously.

Step 3: Tap on the PDF file

Select the PDF file from the list to open it.

When you find the PDF file in the Files app, simply tap on it to open it. The file will load in a built-in PDF viewer, allowing you to read the document directly within the app. You can swipe left and right to change pages, and use pinch gestures to zoom in and out.

Step 4: Use third-party apps (optional)

Alternatively, download and use a third-party app from the App Store for additional features.

If you’d like more functionality than the Files app provides, the App Store has several third-party PDF readers and editors. These apps often offer additional features like annotation, signing, and file conversion. Download one of these apps, and you can usually open a PDF by selecting the “Share” option in the Files app and choosing your third-party app from the list.


ConvenienceViewing PDFs on your iPhone is incredibly convenient. The ability to open and read documents on the go means you never have to be without important information. Whether you’re commuting, in a meeting, or just away from your desk, your iPhone has you covered.
No additional software requiredThanks to the built-in Files app, you don’t need to download any extra software to view PDFs. This saves time and space on your device. Plus, it’s one less step between you and your documents.
Third-party apps offer more featuresFor those who need more than just viewing capabilities, third-party apps provide a plethora of additional features. You can annotate, fill out forms, sign documents, and even convert PDFs to other formats.


Small screen sizeReading PDFs on the relatively small screen of an iPhone can be less comfortable than on a larger device like a tablet or computer. You may find yourself zooming in and out frequently to read smaller text.
Limited editing featuresThe built-in options for editing PDFs on an iPhone are quite limited. If you need to make significant changes to a document, you’ll likely need to use a third-party app or a different device.
Potential cost for third-party appsWhile there are free options available, some of the more robust PDF apps on the App Store come with a price tag. If you require advanced features, you may need to consider this additional cost.

Additional Information

When it comes to viewing PDF files on an iPhone, the process is relatively simple, but it’s always good to have some extra tricks up your sleeve. Did you know you can also save PDFs to your iCloud Drive for easy access across all your devices? Or that you can create a PDF from a webpage or an image right on your iPhone? Yep, iOS is pretty powerful when it comes to handling PDFs.

If you’re someone who works with PDFs regularly, consider organizing your files into folders within the Files app. This can make it much easier to find the document you’re looking for, rather than scrolling through a long list of files. And if you’re worried about security, most third-party PDF apps offer encryption and password protection to keep your sensitive documents safe.

Remember, while the Files app is a solid choice for viewing PDFs, don’t be afraid to explore the App Store for a third-party app that may better suit your needs, especially if you’re after specific features like PDF editing or annotation.


  1. Locate the PDF file
  2. Open the Files app
  3. Tap on the PDF file
  4. Use third-party apps (optional)

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I view a PDF file in my iPhone’s Mail app?

Yes, you can view a PDF directly in the Mail app. Just tap on the attachment to open it.

Is there a way to bookmark pages in a PDF on my iPhone?

Some third-party PDF apps offer bookmarking features. Check the app’s description in the App Store to see if this is included.

Can I print a PDF from my iPhone?

Absolutely! If you have an AirPrint-compatible printer, you can print PDFs directly from your iPhone.

How can I share a PDF file from my iPhone?

You can share a PDF by using the “Share” button in the Files app or your chosen PDF reader app. This allows you to send the file via email, messages, or other apps.

Can I save a PDF file to my iPhone’s home screen for quick access?

While you can’t save the file itself to your home screen, you can create a shortcut to the Files app folder where it’s stored.


Viewing PDF files on an iPhone is a breeze, whether you’re using the native Files app or opting for a more feature-rich third-party application. This function is essential for professionals and students alike, as it allows for the flexibility to access important documents from anywhere, at any time. While there are some considerations to take into account, such as screen size and potential costs for additional features, the pros far outweigh the cons.

For those who regularly work with PDFs, finding a suitable app that meets all your needs can be a game-changer. And with the tips and insights provided in this article, you’re well-equipped to handle PDFs like a pro. So the next time you need to open a PDF on your iPhone, remember these steps and you’ll be reading in no time.

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