How to change browser download settings for PDF files

Updated: 10/11/2017 by Computer Hope

PDFBy default, most downloaded PDF files open within the Internet browser currently in use, usually in a new window or tab. This document contains steps on how to change the associations within your browser's settings to allow downloaded PDF files to open in the program of your choice or within the browser. To proceed, select your browser from the list below and follow the instructions.

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

Microsoft EdgeMicrosoft Edge users

Because Microsoft Edge is integrated into Windows 10, you'll need to go into the Windows settings to change the default PDF file viewer.

  1. Press the Windows key on your keyboard, type Default Programs, and then press Enter.
  2. In the Settings window, in the section to the right, scroll down click Choose default apps by file type.
  3. Scroll down until you see the entry for the .pdf file extension, and then click the box to the right of it.
  4. In the menu that appears, select the program you want to use to view PDFs.

Internet ExplorerInternet Explorer users

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Click the Internet Explorer Tools Internet Explorer Tools button button and select Manage add-ons.
  3. Under the Toolbars and Extensions option, click on the Show drop-down list and select Run without permissions.
  4. In the displayed list of add-ons and extensions, find Adobe PDF Reader.
  5. Select the extension and click the Disable button in the bottom right of the Manage Add-ons window.
  6. Next time you download and open a PDF file, your default program will be used instead of Adobe PDF Viewer.

ChromeGoogle Chrome users

By default Google Chrome should open a PDF in the browser and not save the PDF in the download folder to be opened by a PDF editor such as Adobe Reader. To change how Google Chrome treats PDF files in the browser follow the steps below.

  1. Open Google Chrome.
  2. Click on the Menu icon (Google Chrome Menu icon) in the top-right corner of the Window.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the Settings window and click Advanced.
  5. In the Privacy and security section, click Content Settings.
  6. Scroll down and click the PDF documents option.
  7. Change the "Download PDF files instead of automatically opening them in Chrome" option from the on position (blue) to the off position (grey).
  8. Close the Settings tab and now any PDF should be opened in Chrome instead of being downloaded.

Tip: If you do want PDFs to be downloaded instead of opened in Chrome, you can follow these steps and turn on the "Download PDF files instead of automatically opening them in Chrome" option.

To enable the ability for Chrome to open and display PDF files in the Chrome browser window, follow the steps above and in step 5, uncheck the box for the Open PDF files in the default PDF viewer application option.

FirefoxMozilla Firefox users

  1. Open Mozilla Firefox.
  2. Click the menu Firefox Menu button button and select Options.
  3. Within the Options window, click Applications
  4. Under the Content Type column, select the Portable Document Format (PDF) option.
  5. In the Action column, click the down arrow on the right-hand side of the box.
  6. In the drop-down menu that appears, select your new default PDF reading program.

OperaOpera users

Once you've set your default PDF viewer program in Windows (see Microsoft Edge section) or a different browser, the following steps will "activate" it in Opera.

  1. Open the Opera Internet browser.
  2. Click the Opera menu Opera Menu button button in the upper left corner.
  3. Select Opera settings icon Settings from the drop-down menu that appears.
  4. Under the Basic menu, locate the PDF Documents section at the bottom of the window.
  5. Check the box next to Open PDF files in the default PDF viewer application.

Note: If you do not see the PDF Documents or the Open PDF files in the default PDF viewer application option, type pdf in the Search settings text box at the top of the Settings page. The Open PDF files option should be displayed, allowing you to check or uncheck the box.

Additional information

  • See the PDF definition for further information about PDF files, questions and answers, and related links.