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How do make my browser display PDF's on the page rather than download?

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I'm haing a problem with my browser that I think you might be able to help me with.

When I click on a link that's supposed to show me a PDF file (whatever that is), my browser downloads that file rather than showing it to me. If I try to doubleclick on the downloaded file, I get a screen that asks me what program I want to open it with.

I just want to see the stupid thing in my browser! Help!


Kellie in Wichita


Sounds like the first thing we need to do is get you up to speed on what PDF is, then get you situated with the proper applications and plug ins to open and display PDF files.

PDF (or Portable Document Format) is a creation of Adobe, the same company that makes Indesign, Illustrator, and Audition. They are the original creators of the standard language that printers use to make things really sweet, called PostScript.

With PostScript, you can describe just about anything: styled text, pictures, charts, graphs...anything laid out on a page. What PDF files do is take a snapshot of the way a laid out page should look, then carry that exact look and feel to anyone who displays that page in their browser (as you desperately want to do), or downloads the page to their computer. All the pictures on the page will be exactly where the designer put them, and all the type will be in the right size and the right font face.

Now, how do you get your browser to show you the PDF without downloading it?

Read on... (more ahead)

First, you need to get the Adobe Acrobat plug in for your browser. Acrobat is the product that creates and lets you read PDF files. If you visit Adobe:

...you can download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software. When you install that software, it will do two things:

• install the Acrobat plug-in in any browser you use, and
• install the Acrobat application on your hard drive

Now, you'll have both options at your disposal. The plug-in will now take over when you click on a PDF link, and display it on a web page in your browser, just like you want it to.

If for some reason you'd rather download the file, you can right-click (or, if you don't have a two-button mouse or trackball for your Macintosh yet, control-click) the link and choose to save the file (or target) to your hard drive.

When you double click on that saved file, it will open up in the Adobe Reader application - no more pesky screen asking you what software to use!

Thanks for listening, and for asking!

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