Change PDF Viewer back to Acrobat or Reader in Google Chrome

UPDATE: June 14, 2017

Chrome users, there seems to be a new setting to open PDF documents using the native software: Adobe Acrobat DC or Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.

  1. Open Chrome and go to Settings > Content. Alternatively, in the address bar, enter chrome://settings/content/
  2. Scroll down to the end, and select Open PDF Files in the default PDF viewer application.
  3. Click Done.

Open PDF Files in default PDF viewer

UPDATE: April 24, 2015

In the latest version of Chrome, NPAPI plugins (whatever that means) are not enabled by default. These have been deemed “experimental” and you need to explicitly enable them. Adobe Acrobat or Reader browser plugins use the NPAPI  to invoke the browser plugin.

The instructions below have been updated to incorporate these steps.

Note that this will enable all NPAPI plugins. As Google has deemed it experimental, review your list of plugins, and disable the ones you don’t need.


Around December 2010 I noticed that Google Chrome, in it’s latest update (version 8.0.552.215), slipped in an integrated PDF viewer. So your PDF files are not rendered in the browser using the Adobe plug-ins. So if you’re wondering, for example, why 3D models won’t render, or embedded SWFs are not playing, you should revert to the good old Adobe PDF plug-in.

If you want to revert to the good old Adobe plugins, here’s what you do:

  1. In the Chrome address bar, type: chrome://flags.
  2. Search for “NPAPI” and enable it.
  3. Relaunch Chrome.
  4. In the Chrome address bar, type chrome://plugins
  5. Disable Chrome PDF Viewer.
  6. Enable the Adobe Acrobat/ Adobe Reader plugin.

    Disable Chrome PDF Viewer

Easy as Pie :-)

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  1. #1 by Kyle on December 17, 2010 - 1:30 am

    Finally! THANK—YOU

  2. #2 by Vasanthan on December 27, 2010 - 8:18 am

    Thanks you

    • #3 by peterliao on October 26, 2011 - 12:40 pm


  3. #4 by Danny on January 16, 2011 - 4:26 am

    Sweet! :D

  4. #5 by Deja on February 2, 2011 - 10:00 pm

    Great, thanks! Although the Chrome viewer opens the document faster I much prefer to wait a little but then be able to save the document or edit it in different ways.

  5. #6 by blinky on March 1, 2011 - 10:05 am

    unfortunately, now PDFs don’t open in chrome. they have to be saved somewhere and then reopened. which sucks. what’s the point of an adobe chrome plugin if it does nothing in chrome?

    • #7 by Vikrant on March 4, 2011 - 6:02 pm

      To view the PDF’s inside the browser, verify that Edit >Preferences > Internet > Display PDF in Browser is enabled, and displays the correct file path to the file. PDFs open inside Chrome just fine.

      If you have both Acrobat and Reader installed, the plug-in can’t determine which application must be used to open the PDF, so make the settings consistent and then try again.

    • #8 by Devyn Calderon on September 8, 2011 - 7:59 am

      Hey Vikrant. I am still having problems with opening up pdf files without having to save them in my documents. When i go to the internet part of the preferences in adobe reader it doesn’t give me an option to change the web browser from internet explorer to google chrome; it is just a statement it gives me and is not a clickable option. If you can get back to me as soon as possible it would be great because I need to open a lot of pdf files for my schooling.
      Thank you so much

    • #9 by Vikrant on September 8, 2011 - 11:40 am

      A couple of questions:
      1. What version of Reader are you on? 10 or 9?
      2. Are the path/filename valid in the Internet preferences.

      As a quick check, if you want you could try re-installing Reader. That’ll probably fix all issues and bring all the settings in sync.

    • #10 by JCook on July 26, 2012 - 11:13 pm

      Is there a way to enable the save button when display pdf in browser is unchecked? thx

  6. #11 by Red on March 10, 2011 - 7:07 am

    Sweeeeeet!!!! thanks!! ive been using other browser just to open and save a PDF files.

  7. #12 by Peter Voutov on March 17, 2011 - 2:48 am

    Finally I can save PDFs I open in Chrome… The Chrome viewer lacked the ability to Save the file locally.

  8. #13 by allison on March 18, 2011 - 7:47 pm

    Finally! , I found a post that isn’t from 2006 and doesn’t apply. They need to get those results in google to not come up!

  9. #14 by Mclean on April 16, 2011 - 3:21 am

    Cool. Although the chrome PDF viewer opens the doc much faster, I prefer this because you edit them.

  10. #15 by Carrie Sue Doxsee on April 21, 2011 - 5:31 am

    The problem is that while it worked for like a day or so, now it is constantly crashing in version 9.0.

  11. #16 by Robin on May 1, 2011 - 3:21 am

    Thank you!

  12. #17 by Saravanan on May 7, 2011 - 5:46 am

    Thanks a ton. I am facing trouble specifically when it is required to save a PDF. This helped me a lot.

    Thanks again

  13. #18 by Noa on June 15, 2011 - 3:05 pm

    Oh, Hallelujah!
    Finally, I can save PDFs from the browser again, like I did in Firefox.
    Thank you!
    (Change is hard, man. You just made it easier!)

  14. #19 by Alison Sedler on July 22, 2011 - 11:32 pm

    This does not work. It is still impossible to open a PDF file in Chrome. No matter what I do, the only option I have is to save them. Is there any way to actually open a PDF file without having to save it first?

  15. #20 by Sohil on July 24, 2011 - 6:32 pm


  16. #21 by Maher on September 7, 2011 - 1:18 pm

    Thank you very much!
    Keeping these features buried so simple users can’t do it!! how ridiculous!!

  17. #22 by SallyC on September 10, 2011 - 6:48 am

    Thank you for the tip about changing the PDF viewer back in Chrome. My old PC had this and I couldn’t figure out why my new one was not displaying my PDF’s the way I wanted.

    I have a new notebook and as I’m installing my software I see I have both Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro and Adobe Reader X installed. Do I need both of these? I would think Acrobat Pro would suffice but I’m not very knowledgeable about it to be honest.

    Thank you.

  18. #23 by Fooje on September 11, 2011 - 5:44 am

    Hi Vikrant

    Re. the instructions: “To view the PDF’s inside the browser, verify that Edit >Preferences > Internet > Display PDF in Browser is enabled, and displays the correct file path to the file. PDFs open inside Chrome just fine.”

    For which program are these instructions respective to? I looked inside the Chrome program but can’t find ‘Preferences’ in Edit. Neither can I find Edit inside Chrome>Preferences. Or do you mean in Adobe?

    Any assistance gratefully received.

    FYI, I’m on a Mac.

  19. #24 by Fooje on September 11, 2011 - 5:52 am

    Hi Vikrant

    Sorry, having just posted the above, I just fixed the issue via this page:

    Even though my browser was showing this as already enabled, downloading it again seemed to fix the issue.

    Thanks anyway for the potential assistance!

  20. #25 by dave on September 27, 2011 - 5:32 pm

    thanks A LOT mate.
    I wanted to stop using chrome for this reason, but now its fixed. i think google should pay you for saving its ass.

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