Get Reader or Acrobat to work in Chrome, Compact PDF Output from Chrome

Google Chrome is a browser that is growing in popularity. I’ve recently switched to Chrome, myself.

Chrome Icon
There’s a lot to like about the Chrome browser:

Chrome offers built-in basic PDF viewing and PDF conversion of web pages.

Nice as this sounds, Chrome can’t display every kind of PDF. When that happens, you’ll see this message

Chrome also lacks some of Reader (and Acrobat’s) navigational features such as Previous View and Next View.

Since Chrome is growing in popularity, of late I’ve received quite a few questions about PDF in Chrome:

In this blog article, I’ll show you how to:

  1. Use Adobe Reader (or Acrobat) as the default PDF Viewer in Chrome
  2. How to create smaller, better quality PDFs from Chrome

Turning off Chrome’s Built-in PDF Viewer and using Adobe Reader or Acrobat instead

To turn off the Chrome PDF viewer, follow these steps:

  1. Install Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat if it is not already installed
  2. Open Google Chrome
  3. In the address bar, type . . .
    (that’s the word about a colon (:), then plugins
  4. The Plug-ins Tab will open
  5. Scroll down until you see either Adobe Acrobat or Reader.
    Click the Enable link
  6. Close the Plug-ins tab and restart Chrome.

Better PDF Printing from Chrome

Chrome has some nice printing features such as a built-in page preview and an ink-saving black and white option.

Unfortunately, Chrome creates huge PDFs. In my testing on this page of my blog, the file size difference was astounding:

On some web pages, Chrome also rasterizes the text creating image-only PDFs. This was always the case in previous versions of Chrome, but it appears to be fixed in the Chrome version I tested (15.0.874.121 m).

If you have Acrobat installed, you can instead print a compact “electronic” PDF with searchable text.

Here’s how:

  1. In Chrome, go to the web page you want to print
  2. Type CTRL-P to open the Chrome print preview window
  3. I the lower left corner of the window, click “Print using system dialog”
  4. In the Print window, choose the AdobePDF print driver, then click the Print button.

What’s the difference?

I’ve highlighted the differences below, but in a nutshell:

Chrome Image-only PDF Print

Chrome Page printed with Acrobat

11.8 MB


File Preview at 400%

File Preview at 400%