Imagine you’re a teacher with a simple WordPress site. You’re getting excited about the new school year yet you’d like to give your students some digital-friendly documents for them to prepare for classes and understand the material. Your first order of business is to share the class rubric with all of the assignments and tests throughout the semester. You have the PDF file, but you’re unable to make it all that printer-friendly as a blog post or page.

Why doesn’t WordPress have a PDF viewer where visitors can view a full PDF and download it if they want? WordPress has plenty of features, but a PDF viewer isn’t one of them. Luckily, the wonderful world of WordPress PDF viewer plugins come to the rescue.

What’s a WordPress PDF Viewer Plugin and When Would You Use It?

Take our example of the teacher and the rubric above. In this situation, there’s no substitute for a viewable and printable PDF on the class website. Chances are, half of the students will throw out printed handouts and the idea of copying and pasting the PDF content into a blog post is a formatting and printing nightmare.

PDFs are great for many situations, and a PDF plugin allows you to embed a full WordPress PDF viewer into a WordPress page.

WordPress PDF viewer

WordPress PDF viewer

This way, your visitors can flip through the pages like a real document, while also zooming in, taking notes and printing out the document when needed. Some of the PDF plugins offer other useful tools for converting a blog post to a PDF or generating a cover image for a PDF you upload to your WordPress blog.

In short, a standard PDF viewer enables users to see a PDF as if the file were saved on their own computer. They get the capabilities expected of a PDF along with some other handy features the WordPress plugin developers have thrown in there.

When Would You Use a PDF Viewer Plugin?

When to use a WordPress PDF viewer

When to use a WordPress PDF viewer

The Best WordPress PDF Viewers in 2019

To help you weed through all the options available, here are the 12 best WordPress PDF Viewer plugins worth looking into (in no particular order).

1. PDF Embedder

The PDF Embedder plugin has been around for some time now, and it’s one of the cleanest ways to present your PDFs on a website. The free version of PDF Embedder includes the majority of the features you’ll need, with the quick upload button, PDF embed function and your regular navigation buttons.

PDF Embedder plugin

PDF Embedder plugin

If you need advanced features like mobile-friendliness, a fullscreen button and page jump technology, the premium version of PDF Embedder is right for you.

Why This PDF Viewer Rocks

The Downsides

2. Google Doc Embedder

The main benefit of going with the Google Doc Embedder is that it supports a wide range of file types. You don’t need to convert your files to Google Docs, but I’m assuming that used to be the case when this plugin was created. You won’t get sold on a premium version for the Google Doc Embedder, so all of the features covered are given out for free.

Google Doc Embedder Plugin

Google Doc Embedder Plugin

As for the coolest features, check them out below:

Why This PDF Viewer Rocks

The Downsides

You don’t have to choose between PDF plugins and faster page load times. Try Kinsta for Free.

3. PDF Viewer for WordPress

For one payment of $17, you gain access to the majority of WordPress PDF viewer features you and your visitors need. In fact, PDF Viewer for WordPress is one of the most powerful, feature-rich viewer plugins on the market.

PDF Viewer for WordPress plugin

PDF Viewer for WordPress plugin

It’s fully responsive, so all of your PDF files get displayed nicely on every device. A beginner wouldn’t have any trouble working with the plugin since it has a quick embed function that supports unlimited PDF files and sizes.

Why This PDF Viewer Rocks

The Downsides

4. PDF.js Viewer Shortcode

With the worst name of the bunch, PDF.js Viewer Shortcode is still no slouch when it comes to displaying your PDFs in a beautiful manner. In fact, the user side of this viewer definitely competes for the top spot. It has an elegant gray theme frame and a document outline for people to jump around from page to page.

PDF.js Viewer Shortcode plugin

PDF.js Viewer Shortcode plugin

Not to mention, it’s completely free without any upsells along the way.

PDF.js Viewer Shortcode plugin

Why This PDF Viewer Rocks

The Downsides

5. WP Booklet

WP Booklet has a focus on refined magazine-style displays, using flip animations and page pop-ups to mimic the reading of a pamphlet or magazine in real life. It’s definitely a watered down version of Real3D FlipBook (covered below,) but it does the job without you having to pay any money.

WP Booklet plugin

WP Booklet plugin

The plugin supports both PDFs and images, so a photo flipbook is entirely possible as well. They even throw in some templates to get you started.

WP Booklet plugin

WP Booklet plugin

Why This PDF Viewer Rocks

The Downsides

6. Flowpaper

Flowpaper has an advanced-looking WordPress PDF viewer without any price tag. It looks nice, but the backend controls are far from user-friendly. If you’re a more advanced developer who wants a beautiful, free PDF viewer, this might be the one for you. If you’re a beginner, you may get tripped up by the code customizations and storage limits.

Flowpaper WordPress plugin

Flowpaper WordPress plugin

Why This PDF Viewer Rocks

The Downsides

7. Vanilla PDF Embed

This PDF viewer is called vanilla for a reason. The basic, minimalist user interface drops a PDF in your post without any bells and whistles. There’s no premium version, so you get things like page jumping, searching, zooming and printing without having to pay a dime. Check out the Vanilla PDF Embed plugin.

Vanilla PDF Embed plugin

Vanilla PDF Embed plugin

Why This PDF Viewer Rocks

The Downsides

8. PDF Viewer

A few years ago, the PDF Viewer plugin would have been one of the top mentions on this list. But the developers have stopped managing it, so it’s tough to recommend it unless you’re willing to take that risk.

PDF Viewer plugin

PDF Viewer plugin

Anyway, the plugin only utilizes JavaScript, making for a smooth experience on the frontend. This also means that your users don’t have to install any additional browser software to view the PDFs. Other than that, the viewer has several tools including page jumping, zooming and bookmarking.

Why This PDF Viewer Rocks

The Downsides

You don’t have to choose between PDF plugins and faster page load times. Try Kinsta for Free.

9. PDF and Print by BestWebSoft

Not all WordPress PDF plugins serve as WordPress PDF viewers. Some of them act as converters when you’d like to take a blog post and switch it to a PDF. That’s exactly what the PDF and Print plugin does, allowing you or your users to complete the conversion directly from your website.

PDF and Print by BestWebSoft plugin

PDF and Print by BestWebSoft plugin

Most of the required features are packed into the free version, but they do have a premium plan for things like adding watermarks, creating custom document headers, integrating with WooCommerce and other niche capabilities.

PDF and Print viewer

PDF and Print viewer

Why This PDF Viewer Rocks

The Downsides

10. PDF Tab for WooCommerce

PDF Tab for WooCommerce is another alternative WordPress PDF plugin, delivering a PDF download button on your e-commerce product pages. Some product information is too long for the product page or maybe it needs to be protected in some way. On the other hand, your company might already have this documentation and there’s no need to duplicate it.

PDF Tab for WooCommerce plugin

PDF Tab for WooCommerce plugin

For example, some online stores include sizing charts for clothing. I’ve even seen fitted hat companies with ruler printouts that you can wrap around your head to find the right fit.

Why This PDF Viewer Rocks

The Downsides

11. Real3D FlipBook WordPress Plugin

We saved the most beautiful for last since Real3D is pretty astounding in its design, but it’s also overkill for what most people are looking for. We like Real3D if you’re making an online magazine or sharing image-rich pamphlets with clients and customers.

Real3D FlipBook WordPress Plugin

Real3D FlipBook WordPress Plugin

The page flipping technology is the closest you can get to reading an actual magazine, and the lightbox effect clears out all distractions for the reader.

Why This PDF Viewer Rocks

The Downsides

12. Embed PDF Viewer

If you want a super simple and lightweight WordPress PDF viewer, then you might want to check out Embed PDF Viewer.

Embed PDF Viewer plugin

Embed PDF Viewer plugin

You can embed a PDF from the media library or elsewhere via oEmbed into an object tag or Google Doc Viewer as a fallback. The only requirement is that the URL has to be a reachable link.

Why This PDF Viewer Rocks

The Downsides

Which WordPress PDF Viewer is Right for You?

With such a long list of reputable WordPress PDF viewers, it might seem tough deciding on which one to go with.

Here’s what we think:

Overall, your WordPress PDF viewer decision depends entirely on your situation. Luckily, most of them have free versions or inexpensive premium packages. So, give them a try and see which works best for you. If you have any questions about choosing a WordPress PDF viewer, let us know in the comments below.


If you enjoyed this article, then you’ll love Kinsta’s WordPress hosting platform. Turbocharge your website and get 24/7 support from our veteran WordPress team. Our Google Cloud powered infrastructure focuses on auto-scaling, performance, and security. Let us show you the Kinsta difference! Check out our plans