View PDFs in Chrome

Reading PDFs in your browser, instead of downloading them and reading them in an app like Preview, is a nice convenience. But Safari is the only major Mac browser that has a read-PDFs-in-the-browser option turned on by default. Mac OS X Hints reader Typhoon14 notes that Chrome has the same feature, but it's disabled by default; he also knows how easy it is to enable it:

Type about:plugins in the Chrome omnibox. Looking through the list of plugins, you should see a disabled one called Chrome PDF Viewer; click Enable under it.

You should now be able to view PDFs in Chrome. The viewer is very fast. Resizing controls are available in the bottom-right corner of the browser window. Currently, there's no loading indicator for PDFs; if you click on a large one, you might think the tab is frozen, but it's probably just still waiting for the PDF to finish downloading.

The plugin does have a few rough edges; occasional PDFs (particularly those with restrictions on printing, copying, and so forth) will not display properly. The vast majority should, however, show up just fine. This plugin doesn't do much beyond display PDFs, so you'll still probably want Preview or Adobe Acrobat for more intense PDF work. But for basic viewing, the built-in viewer is really handy.

At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Fast
    • Good performance
    • Beautiful interface
    • Easy to use
    • Useful features

    Cons

    • Won’t work with all Web applications
    • Light on features
    • Accessibility features not yet enabled
    • Minor usability quirks
  
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