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How to fix the ‘Chrome PDF Viewer Not Working’ issue?

Google Chrome has a built-in PDF viewer, like several other web browsers, which helps you avoid having to install any additional PDF viewers. However, it’s not without issues.

In this article, we’re going to talk about how you can fix your Chrome PDF viewer if it doesn’t seem to be working out for you. 

7 ways to fix Chrome’s PDF viewer

Following are the seven methods that should help you to fix “Chrome PDF viewer not working” issue. Some methods require more work than the others, so we recommend you first try the ones that are easier and require less work and time on your part.

Try updating Chrome

The first thing you should look for is whether there are any updates available to Chrome. More often than not these flaws are found by developers, fixed and released as an update for users.

Head over to Chrome’s options menu by clicking the three vertical dots in the top right and click on Check for updates to look for any updates that might fix your issue. You can also refer to our guide to help you update Google Chrome.

Try clearing the browser cache

Corrupt cache files often cause seemingly random issues with Chrome. If your browser isn’t working as it should, try clearing out its cache and cookies to see if it fixes the issue. 

Step 1: Press Ctrl+Shift+Del to bring up Chrome’s data deletion panel.

Step 2: Under the Basic tab, set the Time range to All time. Make sure to check all relevant boxes and click on Clear data.    

How to fix the 'Chrome PDF Viewer Not Working' issue?

Also read: What is Pre-rendering in Chrome? Does it hamper your privacy?

Disable Hardware acceleration

Incompatibility between your graphics hardware and Chrome can cause random glitches that can cause the PDF viewer to not work as expected.

Also, keep in mind that while this may fix any PDF rendering issues for you, you might encounter slow performance on some sites.

Step 1: Click on the three-dots icon on the top-right and click on the Settings from the options that appear below.

How to fix the 'Chrome PDF Viewer Not Working' issue?

Step 2: Search for Hardware acceleration. You’ll find the setting under System. Just toggle the switch off and then use the Relaunch button to restart Chrome. 

How to fix the 'Chrome PDF Viewer Not Working' issue?

Also read: How to fix “ERR_ADDRESS_UNREACHABLE” in Google Chrome?

Disable automatic PDF downloads

Chrome has a feature where it downloads PDFs before opening them. This feature is disabled by default but there’s a good chance that a third-party plugin may have enabled it or maybe it was an accident on your part.

Regardless, disabling this setting can resolve issues with the PDF viewer not working as expected. 

Step 1: Click on the three-dots icon on the top-right and click on the Settings from the options that appear below.

How to fix the 'Chrome PDF Viewer Not Working' issue?

Step 2: Search for Content settings and expand the card by clicking on the arrow button to its right. Scroll down to find PDF Documents. 

How to fix the 'Chrome PDF Viewer Not Working' issue?

Step 3: You’ll see a setting to enable/disable downloads. If it’s enabled, toggle the switch off to disable the setting.

How to fix the 'Chrome PDF Viewer Not Working' issue?

Despite this, some PDFs might still download themselves. This is because some files are instructed from the server’s end to download themselves rather than open in the browser.

There’s nothing you can do to resolve this, This issue was earlier resolved by an extension but it no longer seems to work.

Try working without extensions

At times, the Chrome PDF viewers will simply fail to load the file you’re trying to open. In such cases, a buggy extension could be causing the issue. 

To diagnose this, launch Chrome in Incognito Mode by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+N, which will launch Chrome without any extensions. Try opening your file now to see if it works.

How to fix the 'Chrome PDF Viewer Not Working' issue?

If you are able to view your PDF, chances are some extension is causing problems for you. You can go ahead and disable extensions one by one and then opening the file to see which extension is causing the problem.

Also read: How to start Google Chrome in Safe Mode?

Try cleaning your PC

There might be a corrupt file or malware on your PC that can possibly block PDFs from opening up inside of Chrome. Conveniently, there’s a built-in scanner in Chrome for malware detection and removal. Here’s how to run it to figure out any potential issues.

Step 1:  Type in chrome://settings/cleanup in the URL bar and hit enter.

How to fix the 'Chrome PDF Viewer Not Working' issue?

Step 2: You’ll see a Find and remove harmful software option. Click on Find and Chrome will find and report any suspicious software on your PC. 

How to fix the 'Chrome PDF Viewer Not Working' issue?

Once the tool has done its job, you should be able to view your PDF files normally.

Try resetting Chrome

If nothing else, your last resort is to reset Chrome to factory settings and start over again.

Step 1: Head over to the Chrome settings menu by clicking the three vertical dots in the top-right. 

How to fix the 'Chrome PDF Viewer Not Working' issue?

Step 2: Search for ‘restore settings’. Click on the Restore settings to their original default option.

How to fix the 'Chrome PDF Viewer Not Working' issue?

Step 3: Chrome will give you a rundown of what will happen if you reset. Just click on the Reset Settings button and let it do its thing. 

How to fix the 'Chrome PDF Viewer Not Working' issue?

Once the process is complete, Chrome should run as new which means, this should also fix any potential problems with the PDF viewer. 

Also read: How to fix Chrome using too much CPU?

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