My UW Madison - Problems Viewing PDFs

Some browsers or devices may be unable to open or properly display earning, leave, benefit, or tax statements. This document lists the workarounds available for these issues.


If you are unable to view your statements downloaded from the "My UW System" portal, we recommend that you install the Adobe Reader application to successfully display the statements. The Adobe Reader application can be downloaded from the Google Play Store for free.


  1. Open the Google Play Store from your list of apps.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner, click on the Search icon.
  3. In the search field, begin typing Adobe Reader.
  4. The app should appear at the top of the results list; tap once on the listing to open it.
  5. Click Install. On the following permissions screen, click Accept to proceed with the installation.
  6. Wait for the app to finish downloading. Once the download has completed, it should automatically begin installing.

Once the Adobe Reader app has finished installing, you can use it to view a statement available in your My UW System account:

  1. Use your preferred mobile browser to navigate to a work record statement.
  2. Tap once on the statement you are trying to view to prompt a download to begin.
  3. Drag your finger from the very top of your screen downward in order to view the newly downloaded file. If the download is complete, click on it once to open it.
  4. When prompted, select Adobe Reader as the application used to open the PDF.
    • Note: At this time, you may opt to set Adobe Reader as your default PDF viewer, however, this is not required. As long as you do not set a different PDF viewer to be your default, you should see the same application prompt each time you open a statement.

Firefox 19+

If you are using the current version of Firefox, statements should not default to previewing in the browser, so this issue should not occur. If you are not using the current version, please upgrade and if it is not possible, use a workaround mentioned below. If you have any other problems viewing PDFs, contact the DoIT Help Desk for assistance at 608-264-4357.

Mozilla recently released a new version of Firefox with its own built-in PDF viewer. This plugin is unable to render earning statements and other PDFs properly in the browser.

Use one of the following workarounds to view problematic PDFs:

  • Use a different web browser. Other web browsers such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Safari, should either render the PDF correctly within the browser or download it to your computer. Whether the PDF opens within the browser or downloads to your computer is dependent on your current settings for these browsers.

  • Download the PDF and open it with a program on your computer. Desktop PDF viewers like Adobe Reader and Preview will properly render the PDF.

    1. Click on the PDF you are trying to view to open it in the built-in viewer.
    2. In the upper right-hand corner of the PDF, click on the Download icon.

      The download icon appears as a page with a downward arrow.

    3. You will now be prompted to open or save the file. Select Save File and click OK.
    4. In Firefox, click on Tools > Downloads (or Firefox > Downloads if the menu bar is not displayed) to open a list of your recently downloaded files.
    5. Double-click the desired PDF to open in it your default desktop PDF viewer.
  • Disable the Firefox PDF viewer. Once this plug-in is disabled, PDFs will open in Firefox using a different plug-in or will download to your computer, depending on your specific browser and system settings.

    • In Windows:
      1. Click on the orange Firefox button in the upper left hand corner, or click on the Tools menu if the menu bar is displayed.
      2. Click Options
      3. Click the Applications tab.
      4. Scroll down to Portable Document Format (PDF)
      5. Select any option other than "Preview in Firefox." Use Adobe Acrobat (in Firefox), for example.
    • In OSX:
      1. Click on the Firefox button in the upper left hand corner (next to the Apple)
      2. Click Preferences
      3. Click the Applications tab.
      4. Scroll down to Portable Document Format (PDF)
      5. Select any option other than "Preview in Firefox." Use Preview (Default), for example.

Keywords:earning statement tax benefit leave pdf font text garbled jumbled unreadable symbols firefox browser viewer plugin android reader blank empty   Doc ID:28831
Owner:Annette S.Group:My UW-Madison Portal
Created:2013-02-27 14:03 CDTUpdated:2014-04-16 12:23 CDT
Sites:DoIT Help Desk, My UW-Madison Portal, UW Platteville
Feedback:  40   126