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Troubleshoot Shopify “Failed to load PDF document” error

    Did you just encounter the “Failed to load PDF document” or “Not Found” error while accessing the PDF document you just uploaded to Shopify?

    This error happens when Shopify is not able to find any PDF at the URL you inserted into the address.

    There are many possibilities why this happens; in this article, we will look at some easy and non-technical ways to help you determine what went wrong, and how you can fix this error.

    Basic PDF file hygiene

    Before we go into checking, here is a list of things you should consider to ensure the PDF loads optimally.

    • PDF file size – Consider using an online PDF compressor like PDF Candy to compress the file size.
    • PDF file name – Only use alphabetical, dash(-) and underscore(_) in your PDF file name. Any other characters or even empty space should be removed.

    While there is no reported direct impact caused by these factors, it helps you stay professional while eliminating unnecessary conflict with platform policies.

    Check if the file URL is correct

    When you upload a PDF file to Shopify via Shopify Admin > Content > Files successfully, the PDF file will be hosted on a Shopify URL, which you can obtain by clicking on the LINK icon (🔗).

    This is the one and only correct URL that you can use to access the PDF file. It should be in a URL format like below:

    https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1234/1234/1234/files/{filename}.pdf

    or another variation like:

    https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1234/1234/1234/files/{filename}.pdf?v=123456

    You should absolutely not modify the URL, as an modified URL will not lead you to the PDF file, this in turn causes Shopify to throw you the “Failed to load PDF document” or “Not Found” error.

    Invalid PDF URL format includes but are not limited to:

    https://abc.shopify.com/{filename}.pdf
    https://abc.com/{filename}.pdf
    https://abc.shopify.com/pages/{filename}.pdf
    https://abc.com/pages/{filename}.pdf


    If you are facing error caused by wrong URL format, you can go to Shopify Admin > Content > Files, and obtain the URL again from the associated PDF file. Do not make any alternation to the URL you obtain.

    Check if the error is caused by browser cache or extension

    If you have the right URL (like above) and it still leads to “Failed to load PDF document” or “Not Found” error; it might be caused by code conflict by your browser’s cache mechanism or a third party browser extension.

    Check if it is due to browser cache

    To check if the issue is caused by browser cache, you can just open the URL on an incognito / private window.

    Solution: What to do if the error is caused by browser extension?

    If the PDF managed to load, then you can clear your browser cache and try loading the PDF again.

    Check if which browser extension causes the issue

    If the PDF loads in incognito / private mode, but still won’t load in regular mode after clearing browser cache, then the issue could be related to one of your browser extension.

    To diagnose, turn off (deactivate) all your browser extension, and check if PDF is able to load correctly.

    If it loads fine with all browser extension deactivated, then the issue is caused by one of the extensions. You have to turn off one browser extension at a time while reloading the PDF URL to see which extension is causing the issue.

    Solution: What to do if the error is caused by browser extension?

    Once you have identified it, you should consider uninstalling it. If uninstalling it is not an option, your only option left is to reach out to the extension developer for support.

    What if the PDF still wouldn’t even load in a Incognito / Private window?

    If you are still seeing the same error even when you open the PDF URL in incognito / private window, you need to try opening it in a different browser.

    Sometimes, a browser like Google Chrome may have an unexpected code conflict that causes error exclusively to itself. Testing the PDF file in a different browser allows you to lockdown whether the error is caused by the browser.

    If you managed to load the PDF URL in a different browser without error, this means the issue happens only to you and likely a small fraction of internet users.

    Solution: What to do if the error is caused by browser extension?

    Check and see if you are on the latest version of the browser, if not, you should update it to the latest version.

    What’s next

    If you have come this far to this step, tried all the troubleshooting steps above, and you are still not able to identify the cause and solution. The PDF URL still bring you to error on any browser and incognito mode, the last resort would be:

    • Re-upload the PDF file – You would have to go through all the testing steps again, if the re-uploaded file is still throwing the same error.
    • Contact Shopify support – Contact Shopify’s support either via online contact form or live chat. Share with them all the testing that you have done (above), and that you are still encountering error.

    I hope this simple guide helps you to move forward and focus on other aspects of your business than PDF error. 🙂