I have some diploma/result PDF's in Google Drive, and for some reason Google Drive thinks some of them are videos (type: Flash) and won't preview them online.

Here is a screenshot of the Google Drive page:

screen shot

Also note the video icon on the left for some files, while others are correctly seen as PDFs. I can open all files just fine on my PC (with Adobe Acrobat and SumatraPDF).

Does anyone know why this happens? And how to fix it?

Edit: I tried to re-save the files using both Adobe Acrobat and SumatraPDF, as well as 'printing' them to a new pdf file (using Microsoft Print to PDF on Windows 10), however the problem still stays the same. I've also send a bug-report to Google as suggested in one of the answers.

  • Welcome to Web Applications. Please take the tour and checkout How to Ask. Note: The question do not show any research effort. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 12:35
  • @Rubén: I don't think this needs to be added to every question. This is precisely what the downvote button implies.
    – ale
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 12:45
  • @AʟE. I'm not sure that the OP knows that. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 12:48
  • 1
    Ah sorry, I probably should have mentioned that I tried searching for something like this, but couldn't find anything. I wasn't really sure what to search for though, so I just searched for the title I used here "Google Drive thinks PDF is a video". But nothing useful came up.
    – The Oddler
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 13:09

2 Answers 2


I don't know that there's anything that can be done.

Either whatever application created the PDF didn't get the headers in the file right, so that other apps can correctly determine the file type, or Google has a bug in its "file inspection determination" algorithm.

So the people who created the original files need to fix the headers in the file or Google needs to work on their algorithm so that it correctly identifies the files. (To that end, it would be good if you used the "Feedback" tool to report this issue to Google.)

Unfortunately, there's nothing that you can do to force Google Drive to see the file(s) at a particular type.

That PDF tools can read the file correctly doesn't surprise me, since they tend to be able to deal with slightly munged files a little better.

  • Hmm, that's annoying :P But your answer makes sense. Is there a way to fix these headers? I tried re-saving the pdf's, and "printing" them to pdf to get a new one. However, neither attempt solved the problem.
    – The Oddler
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 13:07
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    I'm no PDF expert to be sure, although I have had to deal with more than my share of munged PDF files. I'm afraid I don't have a solution. I've no idea what GD might be looking at to determine the file type. However, the folks at Super User might be able to help. Google Drive (web interface) is off-topic there, but trying to work out why some (unnamed) app is reading the file type of a PDF incorrectly, and how to fix it, should be on-topic.
    – ale
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 13:10

There's an amazing tool called PDFTK.exe (PDF Toolkit). The toolkit is free and I once remember reading that it can recover from certain corrupted files. However, a quick glance at the web site does't confirm that. Maybe it was in one of the manuals. However, the program's author is very responsive to e-mails and knows a huge amount about PDFs and their internals. He even helped me to split a PDF form into layers so I could add text into the form and unite the layers afterwards! His link is on the web site's main page, which is encouraging.

(Just to confirm, I have huge admiration for this product, but no other relationship with it, it's author or the company.)

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