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How to Stop PDFs From Opening in Chrome

January 29, 2024 813 views

When opening a PDF through Chrome, whether from a messaging website or other sources, if you prefer using a third-party PDF tool rather than Chrome's default viewer, you can easily make the switch. This article guides you through your query on how do I stop PDFs from opening in Chrome, empowering you to choose a third-party tool that aligns with your preferences and grants you flexibility in viewing and interacting with your PDF documents as per your needs.

How to Stop PDFs From Opening in Chrome


Why are PDFs opening in a browser?

The reasons why your PDFs open in a web browser are quite common and understandably frustrating. The basic Chrome viewer has limitations, offering only basic PDF viewing. Here are some common explanations:

  • Lack of a PDF Tool on Your PC: It's common for people to be unaware that PDFs require a separate viewer for download. Microsoft Office won't suffice, as it doesn't support the PDF file format. Downloading WPS Office is recommended, serving as both a PDF viewer and providing a complete office experience with applications like Writer, PowerPoint, and Spreadsheet.

  • Default PDF Settings: Another reason you might be facing this issue is your default PDF settings. Have you ever wondered why your PDF software consistently prompts you to set it as your default PDF viewer? It's because your system, whether it's macOS or Windows, permits you to designate a default application for each file format. If your default PDF settings are configured for Chrome, it designates Chrome as your primary application for opening PDFs.

  • PDF Reader Chrome Extension: Another potential reason is that your PDF reader comes equipped with a Chrome extension, and you might have altered its settings to make PDF files open using the Chrome extension within the browser. This customization can lead to PDFs opening directly in the browser rather than through a standalone PDF reader.

3 Methods to Stop PDF from Opening in Google Chrome

If you find yourself stuck and wondering how to stop PDFs from opening in Chrome, you're in the right place. We've narrowed down three methods to help you navigate out of this situation.

Method 1: Install a Useful PDF Reader

Installing a PDF reader is the first step if you're missing one, and our recommendation is WPS Office—a free office suite with advanced PDF functionalities. It not only allows you to view PDFs offline but also enables editing, signing, and more. Here's how you can download WPS Office on your system:

Step 1: Open your browser and navigate to the WPS Office official website.

Step 2: Click on the download button located at the center of the screen to initiate the download.

Step 3: Once the download is complete, locate the downloaded file on your system and double-click it to open the installation file.

WPS Office installation file


Step 4: The WPS Office installation wizard will pop up; simply follow the steps to complete the installation.

WPS PDF Install now


Step 5: Once installed, WPS Office can be used for viewing PDFs and other file formats such as Word documents, spreadsheets, or PowerPoint.

WPS Office is a powerful tool, and the fact that it's available for free makes it a must-have application on your system. Along with all the office applications, WPS Office also has its own AI assistant that not only allows you to view and edit your PDF files but can also summarize and help derive meaningful insights from your PDFs. Experience AI in your office application and download WPS Office now to get started.

Method 2: Change Default Setting of PDF Viewer

As mentioned earlier, changing the default settings allows you to decide how you want to open PDFs on your system. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Browse and right-click on a PDF file on your system.

Step 2: In the context menu, click on "Open with" and then select "Choose another app".

Open files with


Step 3: Users will be prompted to select an app to open PDFs on their system; in this case, we have chosen to open PDFs using WPS Office instead of the Chrome browser.

Step 4: Lastly, make sure to check the "Always use this app to open .pdf files" checkbox to allow all PDFs on your system to open with the selected app in the future, and then press "OK".

Change .pdf files settings


By setting Chrome as the default application, users can resolve the situation where PDFs are downloaded instead of opening in the Chrome browser.

Method 3: Disable the Add-On in PDF Reader

Many PDF readers, including Adobe Acrobat, come with a Chrome extension that directs PDF files to open in the browser. If you have Adobe Acrobat installed on your system, this could be a reason why your PDFs open in Chrome. Here's how to resolve it:

Step 1: Launch Acrobat Reader and click on your account icon.

Step 2: Next, click on "Preferences" to open the preferences window.

Acrobat Reader account preferences


Step 3: In the Preferences window, navigate to the Internet section on the left panel and access Internet Settings.

Acrobat Reader Preferences


Step 4: Within the new window, go to the Programs tab and select "Manage add-ons".

Acrobat Reader Manage add-ons


Step 5: Locate Acrobat Reader in the list and click on "Disable" to ensure that PDFs won't automatically open in the browser.

Disable Acrobat Reader Add-on


WPS PDF Extension: Open PDF easily

The WPS PDF extension is the latest addition to the WPS Office, embodying the same authenticity, originality, and user-friendly experience as its counterparts. While the extension closely resembles the WPS PDF tool, it currently lacks editing capabilities. However, it excels in annotation, highlighting, copying, commenting, and more, making it a valuable tool for collaboration. Whether you're a professional or student, this extension allows you to stay on top of your game with its versatile features.

WPS PDF Extension


Let's see how to download WPS PDF Extension and configure the settings to allow local PDF files on our system to open in Chrome using the WPS PDF Extension:

Step 1: Download the WPS PDF extension by visiting the Chrome Web Store.

Chrome Webstore WPS PDF Extension


Step 2: Once downloaded, access WPS PDF extension through Chrome extensions located on the toolbar.

WPS PDF Extension


Tip: Pinning WPS PDF extension for easy access is beneficial, providing access to additional PDF tools.

Step 3: To make WPS PDF extension your default PDF viewer on Chrome, visit the extension and click on the "Settings" icon.

WPS PDF Extension settings


Step 4: In the WPS PDF Extension settings, enable "Open local PDFs in WPS PDF Extension" by clicking on the toggle.

Open local PDFs in WPS PDF Extension


Step 5: You will be redirected to the Chrome extension settings page. Here, enable "Allow access to file URLs" using the toggle. Once done, simply exit the window.

Chrome Extension settings


Step 6: Now, try opening a PDF on your computer. Make sure Chrome is set as the default application to open PDFs. Your PDF will now open in Chrome using the WPS PDF Extension.

Open local PDF File in WPS PDF Extension
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FAQs about how do I stop PDFs from opening in Chrome

Q1. Why is Chrome downloading links instead of opening them?

The behavior of Chrome downloading links instead of opening them is due to the browser's configuration, particularly in Google Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers.These browsers are programmed to search for particular strings to determine how to handle a selected link. If the required string to open the link as a new page is absent, Chrome defaults to trying to download it as a document.

Q2. Why are my files downloading as Chrome?

Several potential reasons could be causing your files to download as Chrome instead. Here are the possible reasons:

  • Buggy Update: You might have installed a faulty update for either Google Chrome or Microsoft Windows, leading to an automatic switch of your PDF documents to Chrome HTML files.

  • Accidental Default App Change: It's possible that you accidentally changed your computer's default application for opening PDF files, causing them to download as Chrome files.

Q3. Why are my PDFs opening in Chrome?

There are several reasons why your PDFs might be opening in Chrome instead of a PDF reader. Some of the common reasons include:

  • Absence of Downloaded PDF Reader: Ensure you have a PDF reader or software downloaded on your device to open PDF files.

  • Default Settings on PDF Software: Your default settings on your PDF software might be set to a web browser. Check and adjust the default settings on your PDF software to avoid opening files in a web browser.

  • Chrome's Automatic PDF Viewer Setting: If your PDFs are opening in Chrome, it may be because you haven't disabled Chrome's automatic setting to function as a PDF viewer. To resolve this, consider adjusting the relevant settings in Chrome.

    Additionally, if you are in search of the best PDF viewer for use in Google Chrome, we offer some recommendations in another article. These PDF viewers ensure an outstanding reading experience within Google Chrome. You can click the hyperlink to view the complete article.

Better Your PDF Experience With WPS PDF

While Chrome offers an integrated PDF solution as its default, not everyone is a fan of it and naturally would want to know how to stop PDFs from opening in Chrome. For those who prefer an alternative default solution, especially if Chrome's PDF viewer is not to their liking, consider using the WPS PDF extension. This free extension provides users with a high level of comfort and ease, offering an alternative and customizable default PDF solution. Download WPS PDF now to enhance your PDF viewing experience.


15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.