Displaying a pdf file from Winform

0 votes
asked Feb 8, 2010 by gsvirdi

I'm just creating a simple calculator in C# (windows form)

I've created a "User Help" which is a pdf file, what I want is to display that pdf file if the user clicks on the "Help" button in the WinForm. If assumed that Adobe reader is pre-installed on the user's machine....

How to open the pdf file on button click in winForm?

I don't plan to provide this pdf file on hard disk of user. Which means that I have to embed this pdf into the calculator (winForm) and have to display it on the button click.

Kindly guide me with the best practise for displaying an embedded file in winForm.

11 Answers

0 votes
answered Jan 3, 2010 by cferbs

There is a C# pdf viewer project on google code. http://code.google.com/p/pdfviewer-win32/ there is the viewer and there is the library that it uses available that uses mupdf and xpdf to render the pdf documents in your winforms program. I am currently developing a User control library for people to use and drop into their programs for pdf viewing capabilities. it works pretty good.

0 votes
answered Jan 8, 2010 by snake

I would suggest converting your pdf file to a Microsoft help file, so that you don't need to have Adobe Reader installed (it's buggy, and has way too much security issues). You cannot expect users to have this.

In reply to the starter's comment:

Yes you would need to create your help file as an HTML document instead of a pdf. There is no easy way to convert pdf to HTML.

0 votes
answered Jan 8, 2010 by assaf-lavie

It might be possible to embed Adobe's Reader in your form as an ActiveX component. But that means you'll have to make sure Reader is installed on the client machine for that to work.

In case it doesn't have to be strictly embedded you can just launch the PDF file and let whatever viewer the user has open it.

0 votes
answered Jan 8, 2010 by ian-ringrose

You could use the WebBrowser control and let IE load a PDF reader for you if there is one installed on the machine.

However the last time I tried this, I had to write the PDF file to disk first, so I could point the WebBrowser control at it.

0 votes
answered Jan 8, 2010 by winston-smith

You can reference the Adobe Reader ActiveX control and bundle it with your application.

Simply add AcroPDF.PDF.1 to your Toolbox from the COM Components tab (right click toolbox and click Choose Items...) then drag an instance onto your Winform to have the designer create the code for you. Alternately, after adding the necessary reference you can use the following code:

AxAcroPDFLib.AxAcroPDF pdf = new AxAcroPDFLib.AxAcroPDF();
pdf.Dock = System.Windows.Forms.DockStyle.Fill;
pdf.Enabled = true;
pdf.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(0, 0);
pdf.Name = "pdfReader";
pdf.OcxState = ((System.Windows.Forms.AxHost.State)(new System.ComponentModel.ComponentResourceManager(typeof(ViewerWindow)).GetObject("pdfReader.OcxState")));
pdf.TabIndex = 1;

// Add pdf viewer to current form        

pdf.Visible = true;
0 votes
answered Jan 9, 2010 by tommy

If your user has Adobe Reader (or any other PDF reader) installed on their machine, you could use:


Hope this helps.

Note: Obviously, this will fail if the user does not have any PDF Reader applications installed.

0 votes
answered Feb 8, 2010 by oliver

I would put it on within my program folder, add a link within my Start Menu folder to allow a direct access (without starting my tool) and just at on some click event System.Diagnostics.Process.Start(@".\Manual.pdf");


Ok, now we come to a completely new question: How to embed a file in my application and start it?

For this question you'll find already several answers here, but here is the short version:

  1. Right click your project and select Add - Existing Item
  2. Select your file (don't double click it)
    • Click the little arrow next to the Add button and select Add As Link
  3. Double click on Properties - Resources.resx
  4. Click the little arrow next to Add Resource and select Add Existing File
  5. Select the same file again in the open dialog
  6. Now you can access the file within your code as byte[] from Properties.Resources.NameOfResource

With these steps you reference your file where ever it exists within your structure. If you like that a copy of your pdf file will be put into a subfolder Resources within your project, just skip the points one and two in the above list.

To get your pdf now opened, you'll have to write the byte[] down to disk (maybe with Path.GetTempFileName()) and start it with Adobe Reader. (Don't forget to delete the file after usage)

0 votes
answered Jan 14, 2015 by scott-net

If you want to display a pdf inside your application, the WebBrowser control is probably preferable over the Adobe Reader control, as it will open the file very smoothly in PDF Reader or whatever IE is using as a default to open pdfs. You simply add the WebBrowser control to an existing or new form and navigate to the pdf file.

Never assume that a user has Adobe or any other third party controls or libraries installed on their machines, always package them with your executable or you may have problems.

The Adobe Reader control obviously doesn't integrate as well with .NET as an intrinsic Windows component. As a rule, I always favor the use of built in .Net controls over third party vendors. As far as embedding the file in the actual executable; not going to happen until Microsoft decides any old PDF can be worked into the CLS and compiled into MSIL. What you have when you develop any app in .NET is code that can be compiled into intermediate MSIL to be translated at runtime by the CLR into native code and executed in the OS.

0 votes
answered Jan 30, 2015 by bipzz-thapa
AxAcroPDF1.src = "C:ShippingForm.pdf"
0 votes
answered Sep 15, 2017 by andreas-reiff

Getting the embedded file out should not e a problem at all. This is not dependent on it being .pdf format, and you can just look for a separate solution there.

For display, unless you know Acrobat or similar is installed (well, even Edge can open those files nowadays), or if you want to display the file embedded in a WinForms application, there is


written in VB relying on lots of (partially commercial, if your solution is commercial) libraries.



is great and also available via NuGet.

The PdfiumViewer library primarily consists out of three components:
•The  PdfViewer  control. This control provides a host for the  PdfRenderer  control and has a default toolbar with limited functionality;
•The  PdfRenderer  control. This control implements the raw PDF renderer. This control displays a PDF document, provides zooming and scrolling functionality and exposes methods to perform more advanced actions;
•The  PdfDocument  class provides access to the PDF document and wraps the Pdfium library.

It is an all-in-one solution for display and comes with a friendlier Apache 2.0 license.

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