How To Fix PDFs That Won’t Open in Chrome

Few things are more annoying than clicking a PDF and having to wait ages for Adobe Reader to load up. Fortunately, Google Chrome’s built-in PDF viewer can put an end to this struggle. You won’t have to leave your browser to have a quick look at the PDF your colleague just sent over to you.

How To Fix PDFs That Won’t Open in Chrome

So, what should you do if PDFs won’t open in Chrome? It can certainly be bothersome if this handy solution isn’t working for you. Here are a few solutions to try.

How to Open PDFs With Chrome

First, let’s see how to open PDFs with Chrome if the browser is not your default PDF viewer. The process is essentially the same on Windows and Mac.

  1. Locate the PDF you want to open on your PC.
  2. Right-click the file.
  3. Select “Open with” and choose Chrome from the list.

If Chrome doesn’t appear on the list on your Mac, it will be under “Other.”

You can also change the default reader to Chrome to ensure your PC will always open PDF files with this app. Here’s how to do it on Windows.

  1. Find any PDF file on your computer.
  2. Right-click the file.
  3. Hover over “Open with…”
  4. Select “Choose another app.”
  5. Pick Google Chrome from the list.
  6. Make sure you enable “Always use this app to open .pdf files” and hit “OK.”

The process is similar on Mac. Follow the steps below.

  1. Right-click any PDF file in your Finder.
  2. Select “Get Info”.
  3. Then hit “Open with”.
  4. Find Chrome on the list and save the changes.

PDFs Won’t Open in Chrome

If you’ve tried opening PDFs with Chrome using the previous method to no avail, the problem may lie with your Chrome. There are a couple of fixes that can remedy this issue. Start with simpler solutions as they usually do the trick. If you haven’t experienced this before, check your internet connection and try restarting the application first. If nothing seems to be amiss, move on to the following solutions.

Reset Your Chrome

Cookies, extensions, and bugs can all easily interfere with the program’s normal function. An easy way to give your Chrome a fresh start is resetting the program in your settings.

Resetting Chrome won’t delete any important data, like your bookmarks or saved login info. However, it will remove cookies, browsing history, and pinned tabs. It will also disable your downloaded extensions, so it’ll be easier to identify if any of them is causing the issue.

Reset your Chrome in the following way.

  1. Open Google Chrome and click the three-dot menu in the top right corner.
  2. Click “Settings.”
  3. Find “Reset and clean up” in the sidebar.
  4. Click “Restore settings to their original defaults” and confirm your choice.

Try Incognito Mode

As said, extensions can cause a lot of trouble, and sometimes, it’s difficult to pinpoint which one is to blame. There’s another way to tell if an extension is causing problems besides resetting your entire browser. Try opening your PDF in incognito mode. If the file opens with no problem, you’ll need to investigate your extensions one by one. Disable or remove them by accessing your settings.

  1. Open Chrome and click the three-dot button.
  2. Click on “More tools,” to find “Extensions.”
  3. Your installed extensions will be displayed here, and you can disable them.

Update Your Browser

If a bug is what’s preventing you from opening PDFs in your browser, it’s a good idea to see if there’s a Chrome update available that patches this up is. You can check in the following way.

  1. Launch Chrome and click the vertical three-dot menu.
  2. Click “Settings.”
  3. Scroll down to find the “About Chrome” option in the sidebar.
  4. Chrome will automatically scan for any available updates.

Eliminate Threats

No one wants to hear that their PC may be infected, but cyber threats are ubiquitous today. Malware can also cause Chrome issues, so use the browser’s built-in cleanup tool to detect any threats.

  1. Open Chrome and press the three-dot menu in the corner.
  2. Click “Settings.”
  3. Find “Reset and clean up” on the sidebar.
  4. Select “Clean up computer” and press the “Find” button to begin the scan.

Once the process is finished, try opening your PDF again to see if malware was causing the issue.

Tweak Your Preferences

If your Chrome keeps downloading PDF files instead of opening them in a new tab, tweaking your preferences will save you an extra click. You can disable Chrome from downloading PDFs in your settings.

  1. Launch Chrome, click the more button (three vertical dots), and select “Settings.”
  2. Click “Privacy and security in the sidebar.”
  3. Scroll down and select “Site settings.”
  4. Find your PDF settings in the “PDF Documents” section.
  5. Turn off PDF download in the following way:
    • Unselect the “Open PDF in Chrome.”
    • Unselect the option “Download PDFs.”

Use an Alternative

Chrome’s built-in PDF viewer isn’t the only way to open PDFs with your browser. There are plenty of extensions that will do the job just the same. Adobe’s Chrome extension can actually do so much more than just open PDF files, so it might come in handy even if your Chrome displays PDFs just fine. Find and add the extension in the following way.

  1. Open your Chrome Web Store and search for “Adobe Acrobat: PDF edit, convert, sign tools.”
  2. Click the blue “Add to Chrome” button.
  3. Confirm the download in the popup window.

PDFs Without Borders

Chrome’s built-in PDF viewer is a game-changer, so your workflow can truly suffer when it stops working. Fortunately, you can usually fix the issue without much hassle. Try the above solutions to see which one works for you.

Have you experienced issues with Chrome’s PDF viewer? Do you prefer another app or extension for the job? Let us know in the comments section below.

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