Prevent Adobe Reader From Opening PDFs in the Browser

Disable one setting to stop this behavior

By default, Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat integrate with Internet Explorer and cause PDF files to open automatically in the browser.

This confirmation-less rendering of PDF files has enabled attackers to deliver Adobe Reader and Acrobat exploits via the internet automatically. The result is surreptitious malware that downloads to your computer.

Fortunately, there's an easy way to prevent Adobe Reader and Acrobat from automatically rendering PDF files in your browser. If you make this one small tweak, you'll be notified if a website tries to open a PDF in your browser.

This guide applies to Internet Explorer 8 and later.

How to Prevent Opening PDFs in Internet Explorer With Adobe Reader

Follow these steps to prevent Adobe Reader or Acrobat from opening PDFs within your web browser.

  1. Open Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat.

  2. Open the Edit > Preferences... menu from the menu bar or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + K to get there even quicker.

    Screenshot of Adobe Reader DC with the Preferences... option highlighted
  3. From the left pane, select Internet > Internet Settings > Programs > Manage Add-ons.

    Screenshot of the Web Browser Options and Internet Properties within Adobe Reader DC
  4. Select Adobe PDF Reader in the list of add-ons.

    If you don't see Adobe PDF Reader listed, try selecting Run Without Permission from the Show: drop-down menu.

  5. Select the Disable button so the PDF Reader won't open PDFs in the browser.

    Screenshot of the Manage Add-ons screen in Adobe Reader DC with Adobe PDF Reader highlighted