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.