Setting Chrome or Edge to Open PDF Files in System Viewer


Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge attempt to force PDF files to open in the browser rather than in the system default application, ignoring Windows settings.


Manually change settings within the browser to force it to download PDF files so they can be opened in the system default viewer.


  1. Click on the main menu button, with the three dots or “hamburger” icon, and click “Settings.”
  2. In Chrome, click “Privacy and Security,” then “Site Settings,” “Additional content settings,” and finally “PDF Documents.” In Edge, click “Cookies and Site Permissions,” then “PDF Documents.”
  3. In Chrome, click “Download PDFs.” In Edge, click “Always download PDF files.”
  4. Depending on your download settings, you may be prompted for a location into which to save the PDF file, but by default it will be saved in your Downloads folder. Use Windows File Explorer to navigate your Downloads folder and double-click on the file to open it in the system default viewer.


Previously, both browsers offered the option to open PDF files in the system default viewer directly, but in the latest versions this is no longer possible. Only downloading the file and saving it on your computer, then opening it manually permits you to open it in the viewer of your choice.