How to Open PDF with Adobe Reader from Chrome

This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to disable the internal PDF viewer in Google Chrome web browser and always open PDF files externally in Adobe Reader or other PDF applications.

Google Chrome browser has adopted the Chromium open source project code base and offers better web compatibility and performance over legacy browsers.

Google Chrome is cross-platform, which supports all of Windows, MacOS and Linux systems, including mobile devices. If you’re currently using Chrome and want to learn how to disable its internal PDF viewer, the steps below should show you how to do it.

By default, Chrome tries to use its internal PDF viewer when dealing with PDF files in the browser. This might work for many, but there are few folks out there that might want to use Adobe Reader or other PDF applications for all PDF files.

How to open PDF file externally from Chrome

By default, Chrome uses its internal PDF viewer to open all PDF files. This may be a good feature for personal use, however, in some business environments, this not work as expected and a dedicated PDF application works great instead.

To disable PDF file in Chrome and use external PDF apps instead, open Chrome and go to Settings and more  > Settings.

When the Settings page opens, go to Privacy and security -> Site Settings. Under Site Settings, under Content, expand Additional content settings.

Next, select PDF documents, then choose the radio button to Download PDFs as highlighted below.

Or you can simply type the URL below in Chrome URL bar to go directly to the PDF documents settings.

chrome://settings/content/pdfDocuments

Disable Internal PDF viewer via registry

You can also disable Chrome internal PDF viewer from Windows registry.

If you’re logged in as an administrator, you can also disable this feature via Windows registry. To do that, use the steps below:

Using Windows registry is one way to force all users on the system to use external PDF application. There are multiples ways to do this in Windows, however, using Windows registry is the easiest and most effective way to do it.

To enable, press the Windows Key + on your keyboard to open the run command box. Or use the search function to search for the Run app.

In the command box, type the commands below and press Enter.

regedit

When Windows registry opens, navigate to the path below. If you don’t see the Chrome key, create one.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Google\Chrome

If you do not see Google\Chrome keys, simply right-click the top folder and create them.

From there, right-click on the Chrome key and select the New > DWORD (32-bit) Value option to create a REG_DWORD value if you don’t see existing AlwaysOpenPdfExternally value already created.

If you don’t see Chrome key or folder, create one.

Name the new DWORD value as:

AlwaysOpenPdfExternally

After saving the DWORD above, double-click it to open. Then enter the value of 0 to disable and 1 to enable.


0 = Force disabled
1 = Force enabled

Setting the policy to Enabled turns the internal PDF viewer off in Google Chrome, treats PDF files as a download, and lets users open PDFs with the default application.

Setting the policy to Disabled means that unless users turns off the PDF plugin, it will open PDF files.

That should do it.

Conclusion:

This post showed you how to disable the internal PDF viewer in Google Chrome browser. If you find any error above or have something to share, please use the comment form below.

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