How can I resolve PDF issues?

This article will guide you on how to resolve the most common problems with PDF's.

💡 Good to know:

PDF is a file type that has a lot of capabilities, such as: page transitions, buttons, hyperlinks, forms and even media. Due to its popularity it gives a feeling that everything is possible.

However, this is sadly not the case. In a perfect world, every device would run these files with the dedicated Adobe Acrobat Reader, that can showcase most PDFs correctly. Nowadays there are multiple devices and hundreds of PDF readers with different functionalities that, unless it's a standard flat text based PDF, makes it very tricky to create PDFs that works for all users on all devices.

Interactive PDFs are a fantastic tool, but in order to make sure your company or clients are able to view them correctly, you need to be sure that the viewer uses a PDF reader and a device that is capable to showcase them correctly.


  • An interactive PDF created with Adobe's InDesign might only work with Adobe Acrobat Reader, but not with the build in PDF reader of Google Chrome or any tablets.
  • A PDF that includes videos created with Canva might look fantastic when sharing the Canva link, but once you export it to your device as a PDF, it will not be able to show the videos due to the fact they are separate elements not stored within.

👉 Tips & Tricks:

➡️ This article will cover:

Common issues with PDFs within Showell

  • The PDF still opens with text and images, but buttons, media and/or forms might not work or be missing.
  • PDF does not open, displays an error message or has its thumbnail missing.
  • PDF has missing fonts: How to embed fonts in a PDF


When a PDF is presenting issues within Showell, we can recommend the following:

  • Upload your materials individually within Showell, such as PDF (only text and images), media and forms, to then combine them as a presentation using our presentation creator.
  • If the PDF is already made, test first if it works properly with your browser's build-in PDF viewer.
    • If it does not show correctly in your browser, the PDF might be corrupted or contains elements that are only visible in the PDF reader it was created and so will have issues on most other browsers, devices and readers.
    • If it shows correctly in your browser, but not with Showell: Feel free to contact us so we can investigate the issue.


Re-save/Flatten the PDF

  • On your device, open the PDF with Adobe Acrobat Reader (for Windows) or a PDF viewer of choice
  • Re-save the PDF
    1. Click 'Save as' or 'Export as PDF'
    2. OR choose Print > 'Print to PDF'
      ➡️ This will flatten your PDF*
  • In Showell Admin, use the Upload new file version in the file's settings page to re-upload the PDF
    ➡️Uploading a new file version will keep the same link and analytics
  • Update your Showell App
    • Click Tools > Update
    • OR close/re-open the Showell App

💡 Flatten your PDF*

  • A PDF might exist of multiple layers, images and text. When flattening the PDF you are combining all elements into one. This also makes the document 'Read only'
  • You can flatten your PDF with most PDF readers or find a free tool online (Tip: When using free online tools, avoid ones that request your email address, this might lead to spam).