Download PDF Files Directly By Disabling The PDF Viewer In Chrome & Firefox

Both Google Chrome and Firefox have a built-in PDF reader and whenever you click a link to a PDF file, your browser opens it in a new tab. That’s all perfectly fine except that if it’s a large file you have to first wait for it to load and then save it. Once saved, if you click the file in the download bar (in Chrome), it will again open in a Chrome tab. This feature is meant to provide users with an always-available-PDF-reader in the form of their browser but it becomes obtrusive if you really prefer to open PDFs in a desktop reader. Fortunately, there is an easy way around this in both Chrome and Firefox that allows the PDF viewer to easily be disabled and enabled to suit your needs.

Disable PDF Viewer In Chrome

Open a new Chrome tab and type the following in the URL bar, and hit enter.


You can use the find feature to look for the ‘Chrome PDF Viewer’ plug-in. Click ‘Disable’ and you’re done. You can easily revert the change by enabling the plug-in.

What does disabling Chrome PDF Viewer do?

Disabling this plug-in has two effects; first, whenever you click on a link to a PDF file in your browser, the file will no longer open in a new tab. Instead, it will go straight to the download manager and begin to download.

Second; whenever a PDF file is downloaded, clicking it in the downloads bar will open the file in your default desktop PDF reader.

Disable PDF Viewer in Firefox

To disable the PDF viewer in Firefox, type the following in the URL bar, and accept the warning from the page.


Using the search bar, look for the following preference and double click it to set its value to ‘True’.


To revert this change, return to the about:config page and reset the value to False (just double click it).

disable PDF firefox

What does disabling pdfjs.disabled do?

After disabling this preference, any link to a PDF file that you click will begin to download the file automatically. You will not be asked if you want to save the file or open it. If you click the file in the download pop-up once it has downloaded, Firefox will ask you which program to open the file with.

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About Kelli Smith

Kelli Smith
Kelli runs customer support and creates content for Skillcrush, a digital skills training and education platform with friendly instructors, an active student community, and laser focus on helping you achieve your career goals with technology. She has an MBA and successfully ran an international company and her own freelancing business before pursuing her passion for tech by taking advanced web development classes. Kelli loves listening to tech podcasts at 2x speed, looking for cute Corgi photos online and teaching and performing country line dancing—as a true Texan living in Finland would do. Say hi on Twitter.

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