Prevent Google Chrome from Opening PDF Files in the Browser

Prevent Google Chrome from Opening PDF Files in the Browser

I’ve been working on a project lately where I have to download a lot of PDFs from a website and then go through them and highlight text, add comments, etc. In Google Chrome, whenever I click on a link to a PDF file, it just opens the file inside the browser window.

chrome pdf viewer

This is pretty convenient for most people and it was fine for me until I started this project. Other than viewing the PDF file, you really can’t do anything else with the file if it’s opened in Chrome. So basically, I was clicking on the save button, saving it to the hard drive and then opening it from there. After a while, this started to become a little annoying and time consuming.

save pdf chrome

I was using Adobe Acrobat on my Mac to make the edits to the PDF files, so I wanted to use that instead of Chrome. Finally, after playing around with stuff for a while, I managed to figure out a good solution. In order to prevent Chrome from opening the PDF files, I had to disable the Chrome PDF Viewer. Here’s how you can do it. Open Chrome and paste the following into the address bar:


Now find Chrome PDF Viewer and click on the Disable link.

disable pdf viewer

Once you disable Chrome PDF Viewer, when you click on a link for a PDF file, it will now just download it like a normal file as shown below:

download pdf

Now when you click on the file, it will automatically open in the default application set for opening PDF files on your machine. Note that in addition to disabling Chrome PDF Viewer, you might also have to disable Adobe PDF Viewer in the Chrome plug-ins section. When you install Adobe Acrobat, it also installs a PDF viewer in Chrome too, so if you want to open the PDF files in the desktop Adobe program, you’ll need to disable all PDF viewers that are Chrome plug-ins.

In addition, you may have to change the default program for opening PDF files on your computer. For example, on my Mac, the PDF files were opening in Preview rather than Adobe Acrobat. To change the PDF viewer on a Mac, you have to right-click on a PDF file and choose Get Info.


get info mac

Then you have to expand the Open with section and change the program to the desired PDF viewer of your choice. Then click the Change All button, which will ensure all PDF files open using that program.

open with mac

For Windows users, you can check out my previous posts on changing the default program to open a file with and setting default programs in Windows 7. Hopefully, if you are one of those folks who doesn’t need the default PDF viewer in Chrome, you can use the technique above to solve the problem. Enjoy!

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