• How Chrome messed up PDF viewing, and how to fix it

    If you’re a Chrome browser user who views a lot of PDFs, like me, you’ll have noticed that the latest version of Chrome doesn’t behave like it used to. Chrome now has a native PDF viewer, meaning it doesn’t launch Adobe. The problem is, the Chrome viewer doesn’t have important functionality that Adobe does, like saving a file.

    Naturally, I like to save the PDF files I find (typically journal articles). So, I’m not happy with the new Chrome. But there is a way to turn off Chrome’s new viewer and revert to Adobe (yay!). The answer is given by IT Matters:

    If you want to display your PDF files in Chrome using the Adobe Reader, you can easily disable the native viewer. Just type “about:plugins” in address bar and then disable the Chrome PDF Viewer.

    Simple. What would have been better is if there were an option within Chrome to switch between its viewer and Adobe, on the fly. If I don’t care to save the file, Chrome’s viewer is fine. If it just had a button that said, “Launch in Adobe” or the equivalent, I’d be happier. As it is, Google has made using Chrome harder, not easier, at least for some users.

    This is another example of Google being more Microsoft-like than it used to be.

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    • Hitting ctrl/cmd+s or choosing ‘Save Page As…’ from the menu will pop up the standard save dialog for the pdf.

      • @Karl G – Nope. Didn’t work for me. (Just tested.) We may be talking about two different things. From my perspective and for what I want to do, Chrome took something away and left a sub-optimal path back to the prior functionality.

    • You are a god for passing along this information. I thought the problem was with Adobe but couldn’t find a way to fix it. I had just been saving the document, which worked well enough but was an annoying extra step.

    • Sorry to be the techno-dweeb here, but right-clicking a link and using ‘Save link as…’ will save the file.

      • @Keith Sader – But I tried it, believe me, and I get no such option to save a PDF.

      • OK, I did some more experimenting. There are PDFs that can be saved as such with Chrome’s viewer by right-clicking, as Keith Sader suggested. But some cannot be. In particular, those offered by some journals I read. So, Chrome’s viewer does not interact well with ALL PDFs, while Adobe does. That’s bad and disabling the plug-in fixes it.

    • I agree with your general point – I’ve found it annoying, too. Keith Sader’s plan almost works. Turns out that if the pdf is embedded in a frame you can’t save it directly. What I’ve been doing is right-clicking, then opening the frame in a new screen, then saving that screen.

      It’s sort of annoying, but I also think the new reader opens faster, scrolls better, and looks better than the old one, so I’m even on it.

    • even when you can “Save As…” Chrome alters the pdf in such a way that some pdf viewers don’t recognize it. e.g. Foxit Reader fails to read some pdfs after Chrome saves them.

      It’s actually pretty typical of Google to release substandard products and call them “betas”. Then within a year or so they get the bugs ironed out and things work splendidly…

    • Thanks for the simple fix to a frustrating problem.