Lately when I download a PDF in Chrome and click the downloaded file in the bar at the bottom, it opens in chrome. I would like it to open in adobe as default, since I download mostly files with comments or stuff Chrome doesn't support anyway. I have seen this, but it makes chrome download all files and open them in Adobe.

So what I want is: if I click a random PDF, it should open in the chrome browser, if I click a downloaded file from the bar at the bottom or from chrome://downloads it should open the file in Adobe. (Just as it used to be two weeks ago). Is that still possible?

6 Answers 6


FYI for others: if you're okay with the Chrome PDF viewer, but want only downloaded PDFs to open in your external PDF viewer (Adobe Acrobat, Foxit Reader, etc.), you don't need to disable the Chrome PDF Viewer.

Always open PDFs using your system's viewer

Simply click the arrow next to a PDF download and select the option to use the system viewer.

Always open with system viewer

Turn off auto-open of PDFs in the system viewer

UPDATE 6/7/2017

As of Chrome version 59, the option below doesn't exist in Settings. I'll leave these instructions, because if they ever add it back it'll probably be in the same place.

  1. Click on the Chrome Menu icon Chrome hamburger icon
  2. Click on Settings
  3. Scroll down and click Show advanced settings
  4. Scroll down to Downloads. If you have enabled any file types to open using the system viewer, you'll see a button to Clear auto-opening settings. Clicking this will reset the settings for all file types.

Download settings

More info

Relevant SuperUser discussion here: How to automatically open "saved" pdfs in system viewer on chrome?

  • When I do this, it not only applies "always" to "with system viewer", but to "open".
    – mwchase
    Apr 26, 2018 at 0:27

You should try this:

  1. Open Chrome.
  2. Type chrome://plugins/ in the address bar, hit enter.
  3. Browse the list for Adobe PDF viewer or Adobe reader (and chrome pdf viewer)
  4. Disable both (although disabling adobe reader would work alone.)

Hope this helps.

  • Done all versions of the two. Neither gave me what I wanted. Disabling 'Adobe PDF reader' made it download all PDFs. Apr 4, 2014 at 12:24
  • Right click a pdf file on your system. Select Open with > choose a default program > Click on adobe reader. After this whenever you would click the downloaded file, it would open as a solo file outside of chrome in Adobe reader.
    – Sandman
    Apr 8, 2014 at 7:48
  • I think you didn't understand what I want... Apr 8, 2014 at 10:02
  • Did you mention where that 'random pdf' is located? or What that random pdf signify? If your 'random pdf' is outside of chrome and you want it to open in chrome. You just have to change the default program. And in my experience, you can't have two default programs for two different situations for a single file type.
    – Sandman
    Apr 8, 2014 at 10:33
  • 1
    As of Chrome Version 67.0.3396.87 (Official Build) (64-bit), chrome://plugins/ gives: This site can’t be reached The webpage at chrome://plugins/ might be temporarily down or it may have moved permanently to a new web address. ERR_INVALID_URL
    – JohnC
    Jun 23, 2018 at 23:15

In Chrome, type chrome://plugins/
Find the Chrome PDF Viewer and click Disable
From your browser, click a PDF file; it should show at the bottom as a downloaded file.
Click the arrow next to the downloaded file, and choose Always open files of this type (You may need to manually click Open on any recent files you want to view, otherwise...)
The next time you click a PDF file, it should open however your computer is configured to open PDF files. If that method is via Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat (standard, pro), then that should meet the need you expressed in your question.

1- Go to chrome://settings.

2- Click on "Privacy" --> "Content Settings".

3- At the bottom, click on: 
"PDF Documents" --> "Open PDF files in the default PDF viewer application".

This should solve the problem!


1- Instead of 1 & 2, you can navigate to: chrome://settings/content

2- You can click on the file name's small (upside) arrow in the "Downloads bar" at the bottom, and, click on "Always open with system viewer". However, this works only for this downloaded file, not other downloads (it should be a bug though)!

3- After doing the above three steps, when you click on a file in the download bar, it first opens another tab and closes it quickly (another bug, which is a little annoying)! But then opens the file in your PDF viewer anyway.

4- Previously you could control this from chrome://plugins which is now removed from Chrome (57 and later versions). So you just ignore what you found on the web about chrome://plugins.

  • 2
    this is answer for more recent versions of chrome.
    – assylias
    May 26, 2017 at 8:23
  • 1
    what if this option is not there? I only see the option to Download instead of Opening a PDF...
    – Philippe
    Jan 11, 2019 at 16:13
  • It is in the "Contents settings". To find it, you can search in the provided edit box (i.e., type "Ctrl+F" and then "PDF Documents", then press enter).
    – Alisa
    Jan 12, 2019 at 22:56

Slightly simpler way with latest Chrome browser:

  1. Navigate to: chrome://settings/content/pdfDocuments
  2. Then set that to on.

This is what worked for me.

  1. Click on the three vertical menu dots in the right hand corner of the Chrome bar and choose SETTINGS.

  2. Under settings, click on EXTENSIONS.

  3. A new tab opens and displays the software which uses file extensions for document management. Click on the DETAILS tab which appears in the Adobe box. The page titled at the top, "Adobe Acrobat: PDF edit, convert, sign tools", appears.

  4. Click on EXTENSION OPTIONS which appears toward the bottom of that page.

  5. A new tab opens titled, "Adobe Acrobat Preferences". Turn on the "OPEN PDFS IN ACROBAT" option by clicking the gray/blue toggle bottom to its right. It is the first option. Click SAVE PREFERENCES at the bottom of the page.

  6. You may want to clear history and cache in Chrome and in your computer. For Chrome: Right hand three vertical dot menu-->Settings-->Privacy and security-->Clear browsing data-->Under Advanced, for ALL TIME, check Browsing history, Download history, Cookies and other site data, and Cached images and files. Click CLEAR DATA.

  7. Close Chrome, turn the computer off, and restart the computer. Check your PDF files. They should now display as PDFs and open in Acrobat.

I am using Google Chrome v. 109.0.5414.120 and Adobe Acrobat Pro DC v. 2015.006.30527.

Nothing else worked for me. Going through the EXTENSIONS OPTIONS did.

Hope this helps, Mark J. Miller

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