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 :-)

, , ,

  1. #1 by Lode V on February 23, 2013 - 3:57 pm

    Installed the reader again and the plugins are listed in the folder Library/Internet plug-ins (working on MAC).
    The plugins don’t show in Chrome. Restarted mac and chrome several times.
    Still not working.
    Using Acrobat Reader 11.0.0 and Chrome 25.0.1364.99.
    Any suggestions?

  2. #3 by Chris on June 27, 2013 - 11:19 pm

    Is it possible to highlight text inside the viewer in Chrome? The Annotations sidebar appears to be completely grayed out? This would be extremely helpful.

  3. #4 by Robert on August 24, 2013 - 2:09 am

    Finally, this annoying problem (pdfs not opening in Chrome) is solved thanks to you !!

  4. #5 by Renee Holland on October 23, 2013 - 5:42 pm

    Adobe no longer offers the adobe flash player for pdf files on mobile devices.Does anyone know how to get adobe flash player for mobile phones? With out it there are somethings can’t view AT ALL!

  5. #6 by Vishal on October 24, 2013 - 2:47 pm

    Superb! Bull’s Eye! Thanks a lot!

  6. #7 by Tehila on October 30, 2013 - 4:28 pm

    Is there any way to embed code into a PDF that will force Chrome to open it in Reader? I load a PDF newsletter online and refer to it’s bookmarks in a mass mailing (using #bookmark tag after e-mail address in the aref command) but it won’t work in Chrome because of the dedicated Google viewer. I can’t instruct my readers to disable the Google reader, I need to force the PDF to open automatically in Adobe Reader extension. Is this possible?

  7. #8 by IGnatius T Foobar on November 13, 2013 - 10:00 pm

    Why would we want to do this? The PDF reader in Chrome is superior to Adobe’s. It’s lightweight, doesn’t call home, and renders all documents just as accurately.

    • #9 by Paula on February 26, 2014 - 6:06 am

      BECAUSE I PAID $400 TO USE ADOBE STANDARD XI TO EDIT PDFs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • #10 by Jeremy180 on May 2, 2014 - 2:46 am

      The reason that Chrome’s PDF reader is not superior is that any code embedded within the PDF is not allowed to execute thereby rendering any websites that utilize these features useless. By disabling the Chrome PDF viewer and utilizing the Adobe viewer, full functionality is restored.

    • #11 by Anon on May 6, 2014 - 10:23 pm

      Because it isn’t superior.

      It may be lightweight, but it doesn’t support bookmarks, annotations, and other things that Adobe’s “stock” reader supports. I can’t read electronic component datasheets properly with Chrome’s default reader, for example.

    • #12 by Kate on August 7, 2014 - 6:34 pm

      Because I’m a graphic designer and I need the advanced settings that Acrobat Pro gives me for viewing proofs.

  8. #13 by merv on February 5, 2014 - 5:42 pm

    I’ll give you one very good reason – it screws up reports being run to adobe pdf, when you disable this crap it causes more trouble for our customers if the reports had been run while this poxy plugin had been enabled, why don’t google ask if we want stuff that we really don’t need in the first place…I’m very annoyed with google for this as I’m the one that has to deal with all of these complaints from staff!!!!

  9. #14 by Ahmet on May 13, 2014 - 11:35 pm

    many thanks. that was a life saver :)

  10. #15 by Patch on June 5, 2014 - 3:58 pm

    I have deleted the Chrome pdf viewer – but although Acrobat reader and Acrobat Pro X1 are in my mac, Chrome isn’t seeing them. How can I get Chrome to see Acrobat plugin? ( I’ve restarted…)

    • #16 by PCDoc2001 on April 23, 2015 - 12:01 am

      I have this same problem. I can shut off the pdf viewer in Chrome but Acorobat is not listed in my plugins in Chrome. We use an information service every day which allows us use of factory auto repair manuals that were written in Adobe. They are full of links which make our information searches much faster without these links it can take hours to find the information you are looking for instead of seconds.

  11. #17 by Kate on August 7, 2014 - 6:33 pm

    Thank you! I wish I were given the option to view PDFs in Chrome or download to my computer. I’m a designer and I need to be able to turn on overprint viewing and all of that fun stuff for proofs, so I can’t just view them in Chrome. Otherwise, I would totally prefer finally be able to view PDFs in my browser on my Mac, and would want the rest of the PDFs I visit to do that!

  12. #18 by Kiran on August 8, 2014 - 3:14 am

    Thanks so much, this is exactly what I was looking for!

  13. #19 by Margherita on February 20, 2015 - 5:23 pm

    Thanks, this solves problems of not being able to view images in PDFs on our website.

  14. #20 by Morons on March 6, 2015 - 8:23 pm

    You guys do realize you can always right-click and save the document and have your OS open it with whatever version of Adobe’s junk you want to use– right? PDF’s weren’t designed to be edited– they were designed to be Portable (the P in PDF). This 22 year old format is just as bad as flash if you ask me. I’ve seen PDFs that jam in Window’s spooler on HP printers and all kinds of jenk issues. Chrome is simply trying to show content to users that are browsing websites lazy devs had made by linking PDFs they’re not trying to give you a full featured editor to do 50 things PDF was never originally intended to do.

  15. #21 by Brittany Burns on April 1, 2015 - 10:24 pm

    i need this for online class

  16. #22 by iibrahim dauda on April 8, 2015 - 1:51 am

    fix it

  17. #23 by Jim Traxler on April 22, 2015 - 9:38 pm

    Thanks for this solution. I found the Chrome pdf viewer to be counter-intuitive and difficult to use, in that it took over the whole screen instead of just appearing in a window. Also, call me a moron, Mr. Morons, but I could not figure out how to exit, other than going to Task Manager and ending the task. I’m sure there are ways to overcome these annoyances, but why should I have to bother? The Adobe Reader works just fine, thank you.

  18. #24 by Dee on April 24, 2015 - 12:00 pm

    I tried following these steps but I can’t find Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader plugin in my plugins. The online PDF viewer was working fine a few days ago, and now when I try and open PDF files it downloads it to my computer, and I have to view them on a separate reader.
    It works on firefox but I don’t understand why it isn’t working on chrome. Help please.

  19. #25 by Gwen on May 1, 2015 - 10:49 pm

    I have the same problem as Dee. The option to select the adobe reader is gone from plugins. I have reinstalled Reader and that didn’t work. My computer restarted a few days ago and ever since then I can’t view the files I need.

  20. #26 by jesus on May 5, 2015 - 4:17 pm

    you got it, man¡¡ it took me more than an hour to find out why in the hell the Adobe Reader plugin was not shown on the list, and the right solution was this¡¡ Congratulations.
    Too bad for google guys¡¡

(will not be published)