How to fix problems viewing PDF files in Google Chrome. Updated December 2012 for the latest Chrome and Adobe Reader XI. Many users of the Google Chrome web browser report that they can’t open PDF files in Chrome. Just like the ‘Shockwave Flash crashes’ in Chrome we reported earlier, these PDF problems are typically caused by an integrated plugin in Chrome – in this case it is Chrome’s PDF viewer plugin.
Unlike most other web browsers, Chrome includes its own built in PDF viewer – so (in theory) you don’t need a separate PDF viewer like Adobe Reader. However, this can lead to occasions where you can’t open a PDF file properly in Chrome.
There are several problems with Chrome’s PDF viewer because it is exceptionally basic and doesn’t work with some PDF files:
- Chrome’s PDF viewer automatically takes precedence over any other PDF viewer you may have installed. E.g. if you try to open a PDF with interactive links it will open in Chrome’s PDF viewer (where you can’t see the links) – even if you have Adobe Reader installed
- You can’t search by page number to jump to a specific page or search by text to find a specific word.
- You can’t use Chapters, section headings or page summaries to navigate the PDF.
- You can’t click on interactive links in the PDF (in some cases you don’t even see the links, just blank spaces).
- You can’t rotate the page – and the list goes on…
How To Fix It – If you can’t open a PDF file in Chrome or it doesn’t format properly, you need to have a proper PDF viewer installed.
If you already have Adobe Reader and it is up to date, skip to the next step. If not, install or update it now – see our guide on the new Adobe Reader XI – after installation is complete, proceed to the next step.
- Open Google Chrome and type about:plugins into the website address bar at the top then press the ENTER key to display Chrome’s Plugins page
- Look down the list of Plugins for ‘Chrome PDF Viewer’ and click on ‘Disable’ to disable it – the plugin is now greyed out as shown below
- Now look through the list of Plugins for your own PDF Viewer plugin e.g. ‘Adobe Acrobat’ and click on ‘Enable’ to enable it – the plugin is not greyed out
- Close Chrome and then reopen it – PDF files should now open properly in your own PDF viewer where you can navigate, view and work with the PDF properly.