Read PowerPoint and PDF Files Online with Google Docs Viewer

Published in: Google Docs

How do you read the contents of a PDF document or a PowerPoint Presentation if you don’t have the corresponding viewer installed on your computer or mobile phone? The immediate answer would be that you upload the file to a document hosting site like Scribd or SlideShare and read the contents inside the web browser.

Perfect but there’s a small problem. Most of these sites render documents using Flash and therefore the approach may not work on a mobile phone like the BlackBerry or an iPhone as they don’t support Adobe Flash.

If you are looking for alternative to Flash Paper, Google has released something new that might interest you. Called Google Docs Viewer, this is a web based service where you specify the URL of any PDF or PPT file and the viewer will let you read the contents of that document in any browser (desktop or mobile) as long as it supports JavaScript.

powerpoint slides in iphone

The Google Docs Viewer is also handy for web publishers as, instead of directly linking to PPT or PDF files, they can now link to the documents using Google Docs and site visitors are saved from the hassle of downloading the full document before reading on their computers.

Embed Documents Without Flash

If you like to embed a PowerPoint slideshow or PDF in your blog using Google Docs Viewer, just add “&embedded=true”  to the URL.

For instance, if the your document is located at, you can embed the file in any web page using the following code:

Google Docs Viewer vs Zoho Viewer

zoho viewer Zoho has long offered a Google Docs Viewer like product - Zoho Viewer - that not only supports all common Office formats but also provides a couple of goodies.

For instance, Google Docs viewer is only for reading documents that are already on the web while Zoho Viewer will let you read documents that are on your hard drive or on another web server.

Google currently supports PPT and PDF only while Zoho supports all common Office / OpenDocument formats include XML based Office 2007 files.

When you open a document through Zoho Viewer, a copy of that file is stored on Zoho’s servers while in the case of Google Docs viewer, it makes a download request each time someone wants to view your document in the browser.

The downside is that Zoho Viewer isn’t mobile friendly and, unlike Google Docs viewer, one has to to upload a document into Zoho Viewer before reading - you can’t create direct links.

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Published in: Google Docs

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Meet the Author

Web Geek, Google Developer Expert
Amit Agarwal

Amit Agarwal is a Google Developer Expert in Google Workspace and Google Apps Script. He holds an engineering degree in Computer Science (I.I.T.) and is the first professional blogger in India. He is the developer of Mail Merge for Gmail and Document Studio. Read more on Lifehacker and YourStory

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