How to Force Google Chrome to Download PDFs Instead of Opening Them

How to Force Google Chrome to Download PDFs Instead of Opening Them
Photo: Hadrian, Shutterstock

When you click a PDF link on Google Chrome, it opens the file in a new tab by default. That’s good if you’re only interested in quickly reading it, but if you’re trying to make changes, merge multiple files, or remove a page, you’ll have to save the PDF to your computer and open it in another app. And while that’s not too much of a burden for editing an occasional PDF or two, that workflow is pretty annoying if you regularly edit PDF files.

Instead, you can force Google Chrome to download PDFs by default, instead of opening them in a new tab — the option is just buried in Chrome’s settings.

Screenshot: Pranay Parab

How to download PDFs by default in Google Chrome

  1. In Google Chrome, click the three-dots icon in the top-right corner in Chrome’s window.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. In the left pane, select Security and Privacy.
  4. In the right pane, click Site Settings.
  5. Scroll to the bottom and click Additional content settings.
  6. This opens up a few more options, and you can select PDF Documents from this list.
  7. The default options is to open PDFs in Chrome. You can click next to Download PDFs to stop Chrome from opening PDF documents in a new tab.

The next time you click a PDF link, Chrome will automatically download it to your computer. You can also check where downloaded files are saved to make sure that you can easily find them — just go back to Chrome’s settings and select Advanced in the left pane followed by Downloads and check the right pane to review the default download location.

You can then use the best PDF editing apps to open your PDF files and make all the changes you need. While you’re at it, you should also check out the best scanner apps that let you create PDFs quickly.