How to change browser download settings for PDF files

Updated: 05/03/2022 by Computer Hope
Adobe PDF logo

By default, most online PDF files open in the Internet browser as a new window or tab. This page shows how to make the browser download PDF files instead of opening them automatically and vice versa. Select your browser from the list below and follow the instructions.

Tip

If you're looking to change the program that opens your downloaded PDF files, see: How to set a program as the default option.

Tip

To change the name of a PDF file you want to download, right-click the download link and select Save As.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome logo

By default, Google Chrome opens a PDF file in the browser window instead of saving it to the Downloads folder. To change how Google Chrome deals with PDF files, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Google Chrome browser.
  2. Click the Menu icon in Google Chrome. icon in the top-right corner of the browser window.
  3. Select Settings from the drop-down menu that appears.

Settings selector in Chrome.

  1. On the Settings window, under Privacy and security, click the Site Settings option.

Privacy and security selector in Chrome.

  1. Under Privacy and security, click the Site Settings selector.

Site Settings selector.

  1. Scroll to the bottom of the middle section and click Additional content settings to expand the menu.
  2. Click PDF documents.

PDF documents selector in Chrome.

  1. In the PDF documents section, under Default behavior, you may choose between Download PDFs to send downloads to your Downloads folder or Open PDFs in Chrome to open them in a new tab.

Default options for new PDFs in Chrome.

  1. Close the Settings tab.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox logo

By default, Firefox opens a PDF file in the browser window instead of saving it to the Downloads folder. To change how Firefox deals with PDF files, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Mozilla Firefox browser.
  2. Click the Firefox Menu button icon in the upper-right corner of the browser window.
  3. Select Settings from the drop-down menu that appears.
  4. On the left side of the screen, make sure the General option is selected.

General settings selector in Firefox.

  1. In the Applications section (under the Files and Applications heading), click the Portable Document File (PDF) entry in the Content Type column, and click the down arrow to the right.

Choosing PDF as the content type in Firefox.

  1. From here, you have a few options to choose from to how Firefox treats new PDFs:

Choosing to open or save a PDF file in Firefox.

  • Open in Firefox - Opens the PDF in a new browser tab.
  • Always ask - Prompts you each time you click a PDF link.
  • Save File - Downloads the PDF to your computer.
  • Use Windows default application - This option uses your operating system's default program, such as Adobe Reader, to open the new PDF.
  • Use other... - This option allows you to choose the specific reader program or browser to open new PDFs.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge logo

By default, Microsoft Edge opens a PDF file in the browser window instead of saving it to the Downloads folder. To change how Microsoft Edge deals with PDF files, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Microsoft Edge browser.
  2. Click the Settings and more icon Microsoft Edge More menu in the upper-right corner of the browser window.
  3. In the drop-down menu, near the bottom, select Settings.

Settings selector in Edge.

  1. Under the Settings section on the left, click Cookies and site permissions.
  2. Scroll down to the PDF documents section and click the arrow to expand it.

PDF documents selector in Edge.

  1. Locate the toggle switch to the right of Always download PDF files. Click it to the on Toggle on switch in Edge. position to have Edge download the files to your computer or off Toggle switch in Edge. to open them in a new tab.

Toggle switch for downloading PDF files in Edge.

Microsoft Edge Legacy

Microsoft Edge logo

Microsoft Edge Legacy does not download PDF files by default, and this setting cannot be changed. However, Edge Legacy does give you the option to save a PDF after it opens in the browser.

  1. Open the Microsoft Edge Legacy browser.
  2. Browse to the PDF file you'd like to view or download and click it.
  3. The file should automatically open in the browser window.
  4. To save (download) the PDF, click the save Icon used to save a PDF in Microsoft Edge. icon located near the top-right corner of the browser window.

Save PDF file in Microsoft Edge

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer logo

Similar to Microsoft Edge Legacy, Internet Explorer displays PDF files by default, instead of offering to download them for you. However, downloading a PDF is still possible. Follow these steps to view or download a PDF with Internet Explorer.

  1. Open the Internet Explorer browser.
  2. Browse to the PDF you'd like to view or download and click it.
  3. The file should automatically open in the browser window.
  4. To save (download) the PDF, click the Icon used to save a PDF in Internet Explorer. icon, located near the bottom of the browser window. If you do not see the save icon, move your mouse toward the bottom of the browser window, and a black bar should appear where the save icon is located.

Save PDF file in Internet Explorer

Opera

Opera logo

By default, Opera opens a PDF file in the browser window instead of saving it to the Downloads folder. To change how Opera deals with PDF files in the browser, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Opera Internet browser.
  2. Click the Opera menu Menu button in Opera. button in the upper-left corner.
  3. Select Settings from the drop-down menu that appears.
  4. If the section is not already expanded, click the Advanced selector Advanced button in Opera. on the left side of the Settings window.
  5. Click Privacy & security.

Privacy & security selector in Opera.

  1. In the Settings window, under Privacy and security, click the Site Settings option.

Site settings selector in Opera.

  1. Scroll to the bottom of the Site Settings screen to locate and click the PDF documents option (you may need to click Addition content settings at the bottom to expand the menu).
  2. In the PDF documents section, under Default behavior, you may choose between Download PDFs to have them sent to your Downloads folder, or Open PDFs in Opera to have them open in a new tab.

Toggle switch for Opera PDF document settings

  1. Close the Settings tab.