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Download PDF instead of Opening in the Chrome browser

Do you want to download a PDF file rather than opening it directly in Chrome on your computer? Learn how to tweak your PDF viewer settings.

By default, the Google Chrome browser is set to view the PDF file in the browser. However, it also allows downloading the PDF file and saving it locally instead of opening the browser. You can toggle the option – Download PDF files instead of automatically opening them in the Chrome option from the settings page.

Disable Viewer and Download PDF on Chrome browser

While Chrome has quite a few nifty features, there are still some that many users might not appreciate. In this regard, the way it handles PDF files has always been a matter of discussion for a long time.

For the unaware, it wouldn’t be directly downloaded onto your PC when you click a PDF file link in Chrome. Instead, it will bring up the file preview window, and you will only be able to download it once the file has been completely loaded.

PDF Reader in Chrome Browser

So isn’t it good that the browser shows the file’s contents before we can download it? Well, it might be in some instances, but in most cases and for a significant chunk of the users, that isn’t what they want. Some would want to save the PDF file locally on their PC and wish to view it later.

Furthermore, waiting for the file to be loaded entirely onto the browser before being able to download it consumes a few extra seconds.

Likewise, it also calls for extra efforts in manually closing the PDF file that shouldn’t have been loaded in the first place. Considering all the issues, consider a scenario where a user needs to download multiple PDF files.

With that said, fortunately, the browser has a built-in option to change this default setting. You could instruct Chrome to download the PDF file automatically without opening it in the preview window.

Download PDF in Chrome

While Chrome has a built-in PDF viewer, it’s just a barebone version and doesn’t offer much help to the users compared with standalone PDF apps such as Adobe Acrobat. This is entirely understandable, as Chrome is a browser first, and the ability to view PDF files is just an added feature.

Although there’s nothing wrong with this feature, its behavior to bring up the preview window automatically seems to infuriate a few users. However, you could easily change this browser’s default functionality.

Here are the steps to enable PDF download:

  1. Launch the Chrome browser on your computer.
  2. Click on the Menu vertical 3dots icon situated at the top right.
  3. Select Settings from the menu list.
  4. Scroll to the Privacy and Security section.
  5. Click on the Site Settings menu tan.
    Site Settings menu in Chrome Browser
  6. Scroll down to the bottom and open the Additional Content Settings section.
  7. Select the PDF Documents menu.
    Additional content settings PDF documents tab
  8. Enable the toggle button for Download PDF files instead of automatically opening them in Chrome option.
    Download PDF files instead of automatically opening them in Chrome toggle

That’s it, relaunch the browser and see the changes in action. Henceforth, Chrome will directly download the PDF file without bringing up the preview window. And if there’s ever a change in plan, you need to disable the toggle, and its behavior will be reversed.

Bottom Line

This was all from this guide on downloading PDF files instead of viewing them in Chrome. Recently I had to download a bank statement on one of the shared computers. The bank in PDF format provides these statements.

So as soon as I clicked on the file’s link, Chrome directly opened it inside the preview window, and all the critical information was there for everyone to see.

At this moment, I decided to keep this toggle enabled and have planned to keep it in this state in the near future as well.

What are your views on direct downloading the PDF file in Chrome? Have you chosen the PDF viewer or downloading option?

Lastly, if you've any thoughts or feedback, then feel free to drop in below comment box. You can also report the outdated information.

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Sadique Hassan

Sadique Hassan

Sadique is a Bachelor of Computer Application in Computer Science and an MBA professional. He became a tech writer by choice and has continued pursuing it for the last 7+ years. He is keenly interested in open-source technology like Android and also loves troubleshooting the tech. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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