Prevent Google Chrome from opening the PDF file in the browser

Recently, I was working on a project where I had to download a lot of PDFs from a website and then go through each page and highlight the text, add comments, etc.

In Google Chrome, whenever I click the link to a PDF file, it will open the file inside the browser window.

This was quite convenient for most people and it was fine for me until I started this project. Other than viewing a PDF file, you can actually do anything different from the file if it's opened in Chrome.

Basically, I clicked Download button, save it to the hard drive and then open it from there. After a while, this starts to become a little uncomfortable and time consuming.

I used Adobe Acrobat on my PC to edit PDF files, so I wanted to use it instead of Chrome. Finally, after playing around with one thing, I found a good solution.

To prevent Chrome from opening PDF files, I had to turn it off Integrated Chrome PDF viewer. Here is how you can do it.

Disable the integrated Chrome PDF Viewer

To turn off the PDF viewer in Chrome, you must first click the three dots at the top right and then click Setting.

Next, scroll down until you come Advanced link and click on it.

This will bring up a long list of advanced Chrome settings. Scroll down until you see Content settings Below Privacy and security.

Finally, scroll down until you see PDF documents Selection.

Now go ahead and enable the option to download PDFs instead of customizing them in Chrome.

That's it! Now the PDF will download as a normal file and you will need to click on it to open it. Additionally, you may have to change the default program to open a PDF file on your computer.

For example, on my Mac, PDFs are opening in Preview instead of Adobe Acrobat. To change the PDF viewer on a Mac, you must right-click the PDF file and select Receive information.

Get mac info

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

open with mac

For Windows users, you can check out my previous posts about changing the default program to open files with and setting the default programs in Windows 7.

Hopefully, if you are one of those people who doesn't need to see the default PDF browser in Chrome, you can use the above technique to solve the problem. Enjoy!


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