Viewing Portable Document Format (PDF) files in modern browsers

Many modern browsers have changed the way that they handle Portable Document Format (PDF) documents. Traditionally, the Adobe PDF plugin was installed and this was used automatically to load and display PDF documents. However, as this was a proprietary solution, browser makers have tried to implement their own solution  to avoid the reliance on a third party product with mixed success.

A consequence of this is that many browsers have problems handling links embedded in documents that link to other documents in our website. In particular, the Committee Agendas link to papers and other documents necessary for the committee. These links do not work in the version of Internet Explorer used in the tiled Modern/Universal user interface. The default PDF viewer in Firefox and Chrome do not work either.

The recommended solution is to install either the Acrobat or another PDF viewer and then switch to the relevant plugin in your browser.

Advice from Adobe

Google Chrome

If you have installed another PDF reader, then you can reconfigure Chrome to use that plug-in instead.

  1. In the Chrome address bar, type chrome://plugins/, then enter.
    You will be presented with a list of available plug-ins.
  2. Click ‘Disable’ for  ‘Chrome PDF Viewer’
  3. Click ‘Enable’ for  ‘Adobe Acrobat’ or another PDF plugin.

When you follow a link to a PDF file, it should use the Acrobat viewer instead and will let you browse web links within PDFs. You can use this method to change to any plug-in that you wish.

Viewing PDFS in Chrome with Adobe Acrobat

Internet Explorer

The desktop version of Internet Explorer doesn't usually exibit this problem. However, the version that runs in the Modern/Universal user interface in Windows 8+ downloads the PDF document and opens it outside the web browser. This means that it is impossible to navigate any links within the document as it is looking for the document on your computer. You need to use the desktop version of Internet Explorer for any chance of this working.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox on Windows

The method to change the way that Firefox handles PDF documents involves changing the options in the Applications panel of the Firefox Options window.

The Applications panel allows you to choose how Firefox handles different types of files. For each content type Firefox recognizes, you may select an action that Firefox will use to handle that type of content. You can view the file content in the Firefox window with Firefox for natively supported formats (podcast, web feed, PDF) or with a plugin, open the file with an application installed on your computer (or in some cases, with a web application), or you can save the file to your downloads folder.

PDF Handling in Firefox

Firefox on Mac OS

  1. Select Firefox.
  2. Choose Preferences > Applications.
  3. Select a relevant content type from the Content Type column.
  4. Associate the content type with the application to open the PDF. For example, to use the Acrobat plug-in within the browser, choose Use Adobe Acrobat NPAPI Plug-in

Contact Information

Web Team
Telephone: 01563 576000
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