How to Fix PDFs Not Opening in Chrome

How to Fix PDFs Not Opening in Chrome Issue

Google Chrome is the most used web browser across all platforms globally and its dominance is attributed to its plethora of features. There is one feature that regularly goes unappreciated, i.e., the ability to open and view PDF files from within your web browser. However recently, you might have faced Chrome PDF viewer not working issue as the viewer was not allowing you to open PDF files anymore. Often, when you try to access such files, their content would not load or the files would not get downloaded automatically. So, if you are looking for solutions, this guide will certainly help you solve PDFs not opening in Chrome problems.

How to Fix PDFs Not Opening in Chrome Issue

How to Fix PDFs Not Opening in Chrome

Earlier versions of Chrome utilized Adobe Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) to open PDF files. But the developers later integrated the PDF viewer natively. If you are facing any issue while opening PDFs in Chrome, then there can be various reasons behind it, like:

  • Unstable internet connection
  • Outdated Chrome browser
  • Malicious third-party extensions
  • Corrupt cache files and cookies.
  • Or unavailability of Adobe 64-bit PDF viewer plugin for Google Chrome

Pro Tip: Use Incognito Window in Chrome

Right-click Chrome icon on the Taskbar and choose the New Incognito window from the menu. This will allow to finish your work and provide a temporary fix. Thereafter, you can follow the methods listed below to troubleshoot this issue.

Right click the Chrome icon which is on the taskbar and choose the New Incognito window from the menu.

Method 1: Clear Cookies and Cache Files

If your Chrome faces no trouble in opening PDF files but only struggles in loading them properly, then this method is for you. The said problem may be accompanied by some rendering issues such as greyed-out or broken pages, images not loading, text overlapping each other, scroll lag, etc. It most likely will be because of corrupt cookies and cache files. Clearing them out will help.

1. Launch Google Chrome.

2. Then, click on the three dotted icon > More tools > Clear browsing data… as illustrated below.

Click on More Tools and Select Clear Browsing Data from sub-menu

3. Check the following options.

  • Cookies and other site data
  • Cached images and files

4. Now, choose the All time option for Time range.

click on clean data button to clear browsing data in google chrome

5. Finally, click on Clear data.

Once the temporary files have been cleared, check if Chrome PDF Viewer not working issue is fixed now.

Method 2: Enable Hardware Acceleration

Sometimes, it might be because of low-performance that your PDF files would not load. Follow the given steps to improve the performance of the web browser:

1. Open Google Chrome. Type chrome://settings/system in the URL bar to open Settings page.

2. Switch On the toggle for Use hardware acceleration when available feature.

Click on the toggle switch next to Use Hardware Acceleration when available to turn it off

Also Read: What is Google Chrome Elevation Service

Method 3: Disable Automatic PDF Downloads

Newer versions of Google Chrome include the feature to automatically download PDF files when clicked upon, instead of opening them in a new tab. While the feature is disabled by default, you may have accidentally turned it on. Or, perhaps a notorious third-party extension messed with the browser settings. Anyway, if you wish to open PDFs and not download them automatically, do as follows:

1. Launch Google Chrome and click on three-dotted icon > Settings, as depicted below.

click on three dots icon and select Settings in Chrome

2. Here, click on Privacy and security in the left pane.

3. Then, click on Site Settings as shown.

click on Privacy and security and select Site settings in google chrome

4. Navigate to Additional content settings and click on PDF documents, as illustrated below.

click on Additional content settings and select PDF documents

5. Select the option Open PDFs in Chrome. This will automatically disable Download PDFs feature.

Note: If you are using an older version of Chrome, then toggle Off Download PDF files instead of automatically opening them in Chrome option.

select Open PDFs in chrome option in PDF documents section google chrome

Method 4: Disable or Uninstall Extensions

Sometimes, malfunctioning extensions might be the cause behind PDFs not opening in Chrome issue. You can check it by using the incognito tab in Chrome as explained below:

1. Launch Chrome and type chrome://extensions in URL Bar. Hit Enter to get the list of all installed extensions.

2. Switch Off the toggle for recently installed extension and check if you can open PDFs now.

Toggle off or disable the most recently installed extension and check if you can open your PDFs now

3. Repeat the same one-by-one for each extension, until you find the corrupt extension.

4. Once found, click on the Remove button to uninstall the corrupt extension.

Once found, click on the Remove button to uninstall the extension. How to Fix PDFs Not Opening in Chrome

Also Read: Fix Chrome Blocking Download Issue

Method 5: Remove Harmful Software

You can also try using malware detection tool built within the browser to find and remove any harmful software that might be interfering with its performance. This should also help fix PDFs not opening in Chrome issue.

1. Open Google Chrome and visit the following URL chrome://settings/cleanup.

2. Click on the Find button next to Find harmful software option, shown highlighted.

Visit Cleanup settings in chrome and click Find

3. Wait for Chrome to begin Checking for harmful software… If it finds any malware or malicious software, Delete it.

checking for harmful software... in google chrome settings. How to Fix PDFs Not Opening in Chrome

Method 6: Update Google Chrome

If PDFs not opening in Chrome issue is arising due to an inherent bug, chances are, the developers are already aware of it and working on it.. Hence, follow the below steps to update Chrome to the latest version to implement such fixes:

1. Launch Google Chrome and click the three-dotted icon.

2. Go to Help and select About Google Chrome as illustrated below.

Go to Help, and click About Google Chrome

The browser will automatically start looking for an update and install the pending updates, if any.

3A. Click on Relaunch to finish the update process and get rid of bugs present in the previous version.

Click on Relaunch to finish the update process and get rid of any bugs present in the previous version. How to Fix PDFs Not Opening in Chrome

3B. If Chrome is already updated, a message stating Google Chrome is up to date is displayed.

If a new Chrome update is available, it will be automatically installed

Also Read: How to Fix Chrome Keeps Crashing

Method 7: Reset Google Chrome

Resetting the web browser entirely can also help resolve all issues that might be arising due to any user-made setting modifications or other reasons.

1. Navigate to Google Chrome and open chrome://settings/reset page.

2. Click on the Restore settings to their original defaults option, shown highlighted.

Visit reset settings in chrome and click on Restore settings to their original defaults. How to Fix PDFs Not Opening in Chrome

3. Confirm your action by clicking on the Reset Settings button.

Confirm your action by clicking on the Reset Settings button. How to Fix PDFs Not Opening in Chrome

Also Read: How to Remove Bing from Chrome

Method 8: Add Adobe Acrobat Extension

If you are still facing the issue, consider installing Adobe Acrobat browser extension instead. It has been installed by over 10,000,000+ users and provides several additional features in comparison with the built-in PDF viewer. Using Adobe Acrobat you can:

  • Convert PDFs to several other file types
  • Easily fill in PDF forms
  • Sign & draw over them
  • Highlight certain sections
  • Leave comments & sticky notes
  • Compress the PDF file to a lower size using File Compression Tools
  • Reorder & delete pages

Here are the steps to add Adobe Acrobat extension in Chrome to avoid PDFs not opening in Chrome issue altogether.:

1. Go to the Adobe Acrobat extension page in Chrome web store.

2. Click on Add to Chrome button, showb highlighted.

Simply visit the hyperlink and click on Add to Chrome button.

3. Then, click on the Add extension button to confirm.

click on Add extension button. How to Fix PDFs Not Opening in Chrome

4. Shortly it will download and add the extension in Chrome. Now check if the Chrome PDF viewer not working issue is resolved.

Also Read: How to Enable DNS over HTTPS in Chrome

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Why are PDFs not opening in the Chrome browser?

Ans. PDF files may not be opening in Chrome web browser if third-party extensions are messing with the PDF viewer. It could also be due to corrupt or overloaded cookies and cache files, bugs in the current version of Chrome, or enabled auto-download feature.

Q2. How do I enable PDF viewer in Chrome?

Ans. The PDF viewer is enabled by default, however, if Chrome automatically downloads PDF files instead of opening them in a new tab, type the given path in the URL bar chrome://settings/content/pdfDocuments  and hit Enter. On the following page, ensure the Open PDFs in Chrome option is selected.

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We hope that you were able to fix PDFs not opening in Chrome due to Chrome PDF viewer not working issue through the methods mentioned above. If you have any doubts/queries regarding this, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.

Posted by
Elon Decker

Elon is a tech writer at TechCult. He's been writing how-to guides for about 6 years now and has covered many topics. He loves to cover topics related to Windows, Android, and the latest tricks and tips.

1 Comment

  1. None of these worked, I am using Adobe Acrobat DC when i actually open PDF’s but a number of sites i visit for work have attachments that i would like to view before downloading to make sure i am getting what i need. Needless to say i’m frustrated since i have all the right things checked, and tried all the “fixes” on this and other help sites.

    Computer is Windows 10 Pro v. 21H2 64b
    OS 19044.1706

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