How to fix PDFs opening in Chrome instead of Adobe Reader?

Issue: Hi, I just reinstalled my Windows, and I've noticed that all my PDFs are opening in Chrome instead of Acrobat Reader. Any tips on how to fix this?

Solved Answer

PDFs, or Portable Document Format files, are a widely used format for sharing and exchanging documents due to their ability to preserve the original formatting, fonts, and layout of the document. Adobe Acrobat Reader is the most commonly used application for opening PDF files. It is free software that enables users to view, print, and annotate PDF files.

However, some users experience a problem where PDFs open in Chrome instead of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Several factors can contribute to this issue, including Chrome being the default PDF reader on the system, the presence of the Acrobat Chrome extension on the browser, Adobe Reader not being installed or accessible on the computer, or Chrome's PDF settings overriding other applications' permissions.

When Chrome is set as the default PDF reader, any PDF file opened in the browser will bypass Adobe Acrobat Reader. Similarly, the presence of the Acrobat Chrome extension can prompt the system to use the extension instead of the Adobe Acrobat DC application.

If Adobe Reader is not installed on the system, the file will be directed to the only available app that can open it, which could be Chrome. Additionally, if Chrome's PDF settings are enabled, the browser's integrated viewer will be used by default, overriding other application permissions.

How to fix PDFs opening in Chrome instead of Adobe Reader?

To resolve this issue, users can change the default PDF reader in their system settings to Adobe Acrobat Reader, ensuring that Adobe Reader is installed on the computer, disabling Chrome's settings, or uninstalling the Acrobat Chrome extension from the browser. By taking these steps, users can ensure that their files open in Adobe Acrobat Reader rather than Chrome, allowing them to utilize its advanced features for working with PDF files.

Solution 1. Change the default app in Windows settings

First, you should try setting the default app for opening PDF files in Windows settings. Follow these steps:

  • Click on Start and pick Settings.
  • Go to Apps and then pick the Default apps section.
  • Click Choose default apps by file type.
  • Scroll down to find “.pdf” – you should see the Chrome icon there.
  • Click on it and select Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Close down settings and see if the issue is fixed.

Choose default PDF app

Solution 2. Select to always use Adobe Reader

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Let's tweak some more settings in Windows:

  • Right-click on any PDF located on your PC and select Open with > Choose another app.
  • Here, select Adobe Acrobat Reader and click Always use this app to open .pdf files
  • Click OK.

Choose to always open with Reader

Solution 3. Disable Adobe Reader add-on

This option might not be applicable to everyone, but in some cases, users might have an add-on that results in PDFs opening in Chrome instead of Adobe.

  • Click on Start and click Adobe Acrobat.
  • Click Edit and select Preferences.
  • In the left pane, select Internet.
  • On the right side, click Internet Settings.

Disable add-on

  • Go to the Programs tab and click Manage add-ons.
  • Select Adobe Reader and click Disable.

Disable add-on

Solution 4. Disable the extension in Chrome

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If you have an extension installed on your Chrome browser, you should disable it:

  • Open your browser and click on Three vertical dots to open settings.
  • Select More tools > Extensions.
  • Here, find the PDF Reader extension and click on the switch to disable it.
  • Note that this applies to any other extensions that are designed to open/edit PDF files.

Disable Chrome extension

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Gabriel E. Hall
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Gabriel E. Hall is an expert troubleshooter who has been working in the information technology industry for years.

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