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Home / Blog / [Quick Guide] How to Open PDF in Chrome on Windows & Mac

[Quick Guide] How to Open PDF in Chrome on Windows & Mac

By Lena | Follow twitter | Updated on September 6, 2023
There are many desktop PDF tools that can help us view PDF files. However, since you don't view PDFs often or just don't want to install any tools, you may want to use an online tool to view PDFs. Don't know how to open PDF in Chrome? This guide will give you the answer.

Case 1:

In order to save space on your computer and keep it organized, you don't want to install any PDF reader, although there are a lot of such software on the market. In this case, can you use Google Chrome to open PDF documents?

Case 2:

PDF documents are everywhere on the web, but you certainly don't want to download every one you come across. Instead, you just want to open them to get the information you need. In this case, how to open PDF in Chrome instead of downloading it to your computer?

The good news is that the Google Chrome browser offers a convenient feature that allows users to effortlessly open and view PDF documents with its built-in PDF viewer. Here in this guide, I’ll show you how to open PDF in Chrome on Windows and Mac. In addition, you can set Chrome as the default PDF viewer if needed.

How to Open PDF in Chrome on Windows & Mac

Whether you are using a Windows computer or Mac, you can open PDF in Chrome to quickly get the information you need. However, it should be noted that the Chrome PDF viewer offers only a limited reading mode and the user cannot make any edits or modifications to the document. If you are OK with that, then you can follow the steps below to open PDF in Chrome.

1. Right-click the PDF file you want to open.

2. Choose Open with.

Open with Google Chrome

3. Then select Google Chrome and the file will show in the browser immediately.

Note: Or you can simply drag and drop the PDF file into Google Chrome to open it. When you drag the file in the browser, you will see "Copy" option next to the file, then just release the left mouse button.

If you need to view a large number of PDF files, it can be time-consuming to make a selection each time. To quickly access and view PDF documents, you can set Chrome as your default PDF viewer. From the following part, you will know how to always open PDF in Chrome.

How to Always Open PDF in Chrome on Windows

  1. Right-click a PDF file.
  2. Choose Properties.
  3. Click Change next to Open with.
  4. Select Google Chrome and click OK to confirm.

How to Always Open PDF in Chrome on Mac

  1. Right-click any PDF file.
  2. Click Get Info option.
  3. Choose Open With.
  4. Finally, select Google Chrome.

As you can see, it's pretty easy to open PDF in Chrome. However, the Chrome PDF Viewer does not help you to edit the PDF file. If you want to make some changes to the PDF, there are two options for you to choose from:

  • Use Chrome PDF Editor. There are multiple PDF editor extensions that can help you edit PDF in Chrome, such as Adobe Acrobat, Smallpdf, PDF2GO, etc. You can go to Settings of Chrome > Extension > Visit Chrome Web Store to get them.
  • Download PDF files and edit them with a professional PDF utility. Compared to PDF editor extensions, specialized software provides more features and is more stable. You can go to the last part to get more info or you can click the download button below to get the tool right away.

How to Open PDF in Chrome Instead of Downloading

Usually, Chrome PDF Viewer is enabled by default to help users quickly view the file. It also provides the option for users to quickly download a file rather than open it. If you can only download a PDF but can't open it, it's probably because the Settings are wrong. You can go to Settings of Chrome to adjust the settings. Let’s see how to open PDF in Chrome instead of downloading.

1. Open Google Chrome and click the three-dots icon in the upper-right corner.

2. Go to Settings > Privacy and security> Site settings > Additional content settings > PDF documents.

3. Choose Open PDFs in Chrome. After that, you will be able to open PDF in Chrome instead of downloading.

Open PDFs in Chrome

Note: When you want to view a PDF file immediately, you can let Chrome help you open it instead of downloading it to your computer. Actually, there are quite a few extensions that can enhance your effectiveness. If you are interested, you can go to this The Most Popular 7 PDF Reader Extensions blog to find the one that meets your need.

What to Do When Can’t Open PDF in Chrome?

Followed all the steps above but can't open PDF in Chrome? Try these ways to troubleshoot the problem.

  • Update Google Chrome to the latest version.
  • Close Google Chrome and relaunch it. Or you can restart your computer to have a try.
  • Clear cookies and caches. In Chrome, click the three-dots icon > go to Settings > Privacy and security > click Clear browsing data & Cookies and other site data to make it.

Clear Browsing Data

Bonus: Easily View, Edit and Manage PDF on PC

If you want to handle PDF files in the way you like, a professional PDF tool is needed. With such a tool, you can view PDFs in various modes, edit any part of the page, easily merge or split PDF files, etc. Here, SwifDoo PDF is recommended. SwifDoo PDF is one powerful yet easy-to-use PDF software for Windows users. With the user-friendly interface, you can quickly find the tools you need.

  • When you want to view PDF, simply click the View tab and then you can select the mode you prefer: view two pages side by side, full screen, slideshow. You are also allowed to adjust the size of the page.
  • When you want to edit or add annotations to a page, just click Edit or Annotate tab and you're ready to go. SwifDoo PDF allows you to edit both text and image. You can easily add annotations using more than a dozen annotation tools.

Open PDFs with SwifDoo

For more features, you can get the free trial version to explore more by yourself.

SwifDoo PDF
  • View PDFs in various modes
  • Edit texts and images as you want
  • Add annotations in any place 
  • Quickly merge and split PDFs
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Final Words

Now you know how to open PDF in Chrome on Mac and PC. As one of the most powerful browsers in the world, Chrome offers many features that allow users to get a browsing and reading experience, one of which is the PDF viewer.

With this handy utility, you can easily open PDF files on the web and on the computer. However, the Chrome PDF viewer does not support PDF editing. If you want to add your own ideas to the file, you can use the online editor extension or use a desktop app such as SwifDoo PDF.

Lena has been in the editing industry for 8 years. She is familiar with a variety of products that can make things easier, such as PDF tools, video recording software, iOS location changer, etc. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with users to help them solve problems in their work and life. In her spare time, she likes to play with her cat.

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