How To Change Default PDF Viewer in Chrome and Firefox

Up until recently I found no need to change the default PDF Viewer in Chrome or Firefox. The default PDF Viewer can render pretty much all the PDF out there except … interactive PDF forms. With that, you need adobe PDF reader to view them and save those fillable PDF forms. Chrome and Firefox has already implemented it’s own PDF render engine within the browser,  hence, such render does not support adobe’s special interactive PDFs.

You can change the default build-in PDF viewer in Chrome or Firefox. Here is how,

Change Default PDF Viewer in Chrome

Head to chrome://plugins/ in Chrome, this will bring up the plugins page. Scroll down a little you will find Chrome PDF Viewer click disable to disable the build-in PDF render in Chrome. Also be sure to make sure Adobe Reader is enabled, or else you will have no plugin to view PDF documents in Chrome.

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Change Default PDF Viewer in FireFox

In Firefox, you can change the default PDF render under Options > Applications > scroll down at the very bottom. Find Portable Document Format (PDF) and change the Action tab to “Use Adobe Acrobat” or “Use Adobe Reader” whatever you have installed to view the PDF. Click OK when done.

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What about IE ?

Well the good news is that, IE doesn’t have a build-in PDF render, it uses Adobe’s PDF reader instead.

The Verdict

Here is the dilemma, Yes, those build-in PDF renders are quicker and faster in opening PDFs in those browser. But they can do better to improve and including more format support or to build a automatic fall-back option, if the build-in browser’s PDF render can’t open the file properly, then use Adobe’s render. This way, we get the best of both when viewing PDFs in Chrome and Firefox.

Jonathan Hu

Programming by day, Web Development, Canucks & Movies for spare time!
Co-founder of Next of Windows and a cool geek 🙂

Last updated: 08/04/2014

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