Get Reader or Acrobat to work in Chrome, Compact PDF Output from Chrome

Google Chrome is a browser that is growing in popularity. I’ve recently switched to Chrome, myself.

Chrome IconThere’s a lot to like about the Chrome browser:

  • Fast
  • Excellent bookmark handling
  • Protected Mode (sandboxed) for more secure browsing and prevention of phishing attacks
  • Built-in Google Sync to keep all your bookmarks synchronized across your computers

Chrome offers built-in basic PDF viewing and PDF conversion of web pages.

Nice as this sounds, Chrome can’t display every kind of PDF. When that happens, you’ll see this message

Chrome also lacks some of Reader (and Acrobat’s) navigational features such as Previous View and Next View.

Since Chrome is growing in popularity, of late I’ve received quite a few questions about PDF in Chrome:

  • How do I get Adobe Reader (or Acrobat) to work in Google Chrome?
  • How do I turn off the Chrome PDF viewer?
  • Why does Chrome make huge PDFs?
  • How do I get Chrome to print PDFs as text?

In this blog article, I’ll show you how to:

  1. Use Adobe Reader (or Acrobat) as the default PDF Viewer in Chrome
  2. How to create smaller, better quality PDFs from Chrome

Turning off Chrome’s Built-in PDF Viewer and using Adobe Reader or Acrobat instead

To turn off the Chrome PDF viewer, follow these steps:

  1. Install Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat if it is not already installed
  2. Open Google Chrome
  3. In the address bar, type . . .
    (that’s the word about  a colon (:), then plugins
  4. The Plug-ins Tab will open
  5. Scroll down until you see either Adobe Acrobat or Reader.
    Click the Enable link

  6. Close the Plug-ins tab and restart Chrome.

Better PDF Printing from Chrome

Chrome has some nice printing features such as a built-in page preview and an ink-saving black and white option.

Unfortunately, Chrome creates huge PDFs. In my testing on this page of my blog, the file size difference was astounding:

  • Chrome-generated PDF: 11.8 MB
  • Acrobat-generated PDF: 953K

On some web pages, Chrome also rasterizes the text creating image-only PDFs. This was always the case in previous versions of Chrome, but it appears to be fixed in the Chrome version I tested (15.0.874.121 m).

If you have Acrobat installed, you can instead print a compact "electronic" PDF with searchable text.

Here’s how:

  1. In Chrome, go to the web page you want to print
  2. Type CTRL-P to open the Chrome print preview window
  3. I the lower left corner of the window, click "Print using system dialog"
  4. In the Print window, choose the AdobePDF print driver, then click the Print button.

What’s the difference?

I’ve highlighted the differences below, but in a nutshell:

  • The Chrome PDF is more than ten times bigger
  • The Chrome PDF isn’t searchable
  • You can’t select text in the Chome-generated PDF
  • View quality is impacted
Chrome Image-only PDF Print
Chrome Page printed with Acrobat
11.8 MB
File Preview at 400%
File Preview at 400%


35 Responses to Get Reader or Acrobat to work in Chrome, Compact PDF Output from Chrome

  1. Thanks, this is very helpful. We get some folks on our blog asking these two questions from time to time, and will now refer them here.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Yep, you’re right, I just found this out myself. On the Mac, Chrome doesn’t use the same browser plug-in architecture. FireFox, I think, is the only one you can use.

  2. Michael says:

    Just prior to reading your blog instructions on how to have Adobe (instead of Chrome) open and display PDF documents, I had a document fail to open.
    I followed your instructions and went to about:plugins, but was disappointed to see the Chrome PDF player already disabled and Adobe Acrobat already ENabled.

    So, what do I do now?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Sounds like you are already ready to go. If it isn’t working, try disabling the Acrobat plug-in, restarting Chrome, then re-enabling it.

  3. Autumn says:

    Does this still work with the current version of Chrome.

  4. Todd says:

    Thank you. I’ve had Chrome for a while now but never used it because I needed reader to work as well. Thanks again

  5. It works for me, but it doesn’t preserve the hyperlinks. By contrast, sometimes I have to pinch my nose and use Internet Explorer so that I can use the Acrobat toolbar’s tool entitled, “Convert web pages to PDF in Acrobat”. That tool saves pages with the hyperlinks. There is an analog in the Chrome universe “”, and it often works. But often, when I need to convert a series of web pages to pdf, it’s easier to just Internet Explorer for a while, so that I can use the Acrobat toolbar’s “Convert web pages to PDF in Acrobat” when I need it.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      OK, that’s a different issue entirely. We don’t offer a PDF Maker for Chrome which captures web pages. The functionality you reference is provided by Google in Chrome and is unrelated to Acrobat.

  6. gabe says:

    This did not work for me. chrome: 17.0.963.56 Just update acrobat to most current version. It says this:

    Adobe Acrobat – Version:
    Adobe PDF Plug-In For Firefox and Netscape 10.1.2
    Name: Adobe Acrobat
    Description: Adobe PDF Plug-In For Firefox and Netscape 10.1.2
    Location: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Reader 10.0\Reader\Browser\nppdf32.dll
    Type: NPAPI
    MIME types:
    MIME type Description File extensions
    application/pdf Acrobat Portable Document Format
    application/vnd.adobe.pdfxml Adobe PDF in XML Format
    application/vnd.adobe.x-mars Adobe PDF in XML Format
    application/vnd.fdf Acrobat Forms Data Format
    application/vnd.adobe.xfdf XML Version of Acrobat Forms Data Format
    application/vnd.adobe.xdp+xml Acrobat XML Data Package
    application/vnd.adobe.xfd+xml Adobe FormFlow99 Data File

    Not sure what to do as I hate chrome’s pdf viewer.

  7. gabe says:

    To clarify, when I disable, it then just opens up my PDFs in google docs. I am trying to open pdfs from gmail.

  8. Chris says:

    Great explanation and walk-through for fixing this issue in Chrome for me. Well done!

  9. Syd says:

    I have chrome 18.02 but when I go to the pluginns, I do not see that. What could be missing.. this looks good and I would surely like to try it.

  10. JL says:

    All of this worked for me for the file size and for text selection and searching BUT — Now when I print the PDF, ALL links have a blue Strikethrough in them in the PDF.

    Can you explain and offer a fix for this?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Odd, I have a suspicion that Chrome is still rendering the PDF not Acrobat.

  11. James says:

    hello,i cannot find adobe pdf plugins in my about:plugins.. is my adobe reader uninstallation could cause ths?

  12. Andrew says:

    Just to be clear, am I correct in understanding that is is NOT possible to use the Acrobat Reader in Google Chrome on a Mac? I have a link to a .pdf portfolio that will not open with the Chrome plugin, rather it gives me a notice that i would have a “better experience” if i used Adobe Reader 9. I downloaded and installed, but it still does not work.

    I checked the plugins and there is the following plugin enabled: Adobe Acrobat NPAPI Plug-in, Version 10.1.3 – Version: 10.1.3
    Adobe® Acrobat® Plug-in for Web Browsers, Version 10.1.3

    the Chrome .pdf reader is also enabled.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Yes, my understanding is that you can’t simply rewire Chrome on the Mac to use Adobe Reader.

      • Matthew says:

        Do you know if this is do to Chrome’s programming, Adobe’s, or just a lack of coordination between them? Is there possibly a modded version of the adobe plugin to utilize or would that be too much of a security risk?

        • Rick Borstein says:

          This is a Chrome issue. Chrome has their own PDF viewer so you need to enable the one for Reader to get it.

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  14. hanadi says:

    thank for update my adobe reader

  15. Mark says:

    Adobe: please make a pdf reader plug-in that works with web browsers on a mac!

  16. Rory Rosszell says:

    Although I used to have the occasional crash when attempting to open a pdf on Chrome, the problem has got to the point now that I cannot open any. I get a message saying “Adobe Acrobat has crashed” every time.

    I have repeatedly tried the deactivate the Chrome pdf viewer solution, and I just tried the disable the Acrobat plugin/ close Chrome/ reopen it/ reactivated the plugin, but to no avail.

    Could the fact that the plugin says “for Firefox and Netscape” have any bearing on the matter?

    I have been trying to work around this problem for some time and because as an academic I need to access pdf files everyday, although I like Chrome in many other respects, I am ready to possibly move to Firefox.

    Desperately looking for solutions,


    • Rick Borstein says:

      I think you should re-install Chrome or direct the question to a Chrome support forum.

  17. dms says:

    nice share, worked for me..

  18. Kevin says:

    when using adobe as the default pdf viewer in Chrome, how do you control the default size at which pages are viewed? I get “fill window” as the default – I want “actual size”

    • Rick Borstein says:

      First, the document author can ovverride any setting you make, so keep that in mind. But otherwise, in Acrobat or Reader choose Preferences and go to the Page Display section to change the default way that documents are displayed.

  19. Thanks for this info, I wonder if there is a programmatic way to force Chrome to render the PDF’s in the Adobe Reader plugin instead of its default one…