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Fixing Adobe Reader in Firefox (Archived)

Please note: These instructions are no longer up to date

Adobe Reader is the most common tool used to read PDF files, but, by default, it opens up within Firefox and this can sometimes be problematic. PDFs taking a minute to launch is not an uncommon occurence, even on a fast machine. Adobe plugin crashes Firefox on a fairly regular basis as well. Plus, after use, Adobe Reader remains in memory until Firefox is closed. All in all, a pretty poorly-behaved plugin.

The Fix

Since the Adobe Reader can also open PDF files directly, why not just have Firefox download the PDF and then open it in the standalone Adobe Reader program? Well, that's just what we're going to do:

  1. Open the Options window by clicking TOOLS and then OPTIONS from the Firefox menu.
  2. Click the downloads icon at the top of the window
  3. Click the View & Edit Actions button in the lower-left
  4. For each of the Adobe Acrobat entries: select it, click Change Action and then select "Open them with the default application" and click OK
  5. Click Close to close the Download Actions window
  6. Click OK to close the Options window


The one side-effect to consider is that, now, PDF files must completely download before they are opened, whereas the PDF plugin can "stream" the document and allow you to view the portions that have downloaded. If you have broadband, this usually isn't an issue. Dialup users may wish to continue using the plugin.