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Why PDFs open within a web browser window instead of downloading automatically

Your web browser's default settings determine how PDFs are opened and treated by your computer when accessing them from a web page. 

Most PDFs will open in a new window of your web browser, rather than downloading directly to your PC. It is possible to change this default on your own computer, which will allow you to set whether PDFs open in a browser window or download to file. How to change this default will depend on what web browser you are using:

Google Chrome

  1. Open the Google Chrome web browser 
  2. Click on the Menu icon in the top right hand corner (the three vertical dots)
  3. Select Settings
  4. Scroll down and click Advanced
  5. Under Privacy and Security, select Content Settings
  6. Scroll down and select PDF documents
  7. Toggle the option for "Download PDF files instead of automatically opening them in Chrome" from off to on
  8. Click the Back arrow and then close the Settings window.


Microsoft Edge - Windows 10

Microsoft Edge and Windows 10 are completely integrated, which means you need to change the setting for handling PDFs in Windows Settings rather than in the web browser window.

  1. Click the Windows icon in the bottom left of your taskbar and type Default Apps; select it from the menu options as it appears
  2. Scroll down and click the link "Choose default apps by file type"
  3. Scroll down the long list until you find .pdf and click its corresponding box to the right of it
  4. Select the program you want to open it in from the list that pops us; Adobe Acrobat if you want to use this.


Mozilla Firefox

  1. Open the Mozilla Firefox web browser
  2. Click the menu icon (the three horizontal bars) and choose Options
  3. Scroll down to the Applications section
  4. Under the column called Content Type, choose Portable Document Format (PDF)
  5. In the column called Action, click the down arrow to the right and select the desired behaviour.









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