Ask OnSoftware: Effortlessly open PDF files in Firefox

Open PDF files in Firefox without hassle

We’ve received quite a few emails in our Ask OnSoftware inbox, but when it’s time to turn any of them into a post, we try to select the ones that are more useful for our readers – and for us as well. This is the case of one of the latest emails we got, where Alicia complained about opening PDF files in Firefox. Here’s what she wrote:

I’d like to take advantage of this great service to ask about something that makes my life a bit more complicated. I switched to Firefox a while ago, I love it and I find plug-ins really useful. However I have a big problem with it: PDF files.

Firefox is not always able to open them, as IE normally does. Sometimes the browser just goes nuts, as if the PDF plug-in was not working properly.Then I have to manually download the PDF document and open it from the hard drive with my standard viewer.

I have the Adobe plug-in installed and have configured Firefox to use it for PDF files. I’ve also tested the PDF Download plug-in, but that didn’t solve the problem either. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t so I ended up uninstalling it in case it created conflicts with the other Firefox extensions. Is there anything else I can configure, load, test or check?

Opening PDF documents in Firefox is quite a common action but it’s also surprisingly problematic. Clicking on a PDF file link sometimes means ending up with a never-loading tab, a suddenly slow system or even worse, a frozen browser that cries out to be restarted. Here’s a few tips that can help you solve this situation.

1. Configure the Applications menu in Firefox

This is not a very well-known menu in Firefox, but it’s really useful as it allows you to define exactly which action should be performed with each different file format. Go to Tools > Options and click on the Applications icon. Use the Search field to locate the Acrobat file types and make sure your favorite PDF reader is selected for each one of those Acrobat entries. If you prefer saving the files to your hard drive and opening them from there, simply select the “Save file” option. The last option, “Always ask”, lets you choose what to do on each specific case.

Open PDF files in Firefox without hassle

2. Foxit PDF Reader

As you could see in the previous tip, we selected Adobe Acrobat Reader as our default tool to open PDF documents. However there are lighter and faster PDF viewers you may want to try instead. One of them is Foxit PDF Reader, which you can configure to work with Firefox using the same Applications menu mentioned before. Bear in mind though that this program may not work properly with more complex PDF documents, such as forms. If you still prefer to keep on using Adobe Acrobat, make sure you have the latest version 9.0, which has improved a lot in stability and speed.

3. Open PDF files with online tools

One last option is opening PDF documents with online tools, such as PdfMeNot. This website opens any online PDF document you may be having problems to view. All you need to do is enter the URL of the PDF file and click on “View PDF”. Large documents may take a while to load but it works perfectly fine. What’s more, PdfMeNot has a dedicated Firefox extension and bookmarklet that can help you manage online PDF documents in a much better way.

Do you know have any other tips for opening PDF files in Firefox without hassle? Feel free to share them in comments! Also, keep on sending all your problems, questions and doubts to ask@onsoftware.com so that we can provide handy solutions for you and the rest of the OnSoftware readers.

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