SharePoint 2013 open PDF in adobe

Posted on 2016-07-26
Last Modified: 2016-07-27

Can any one help me force PDFs to open in adobe in SharePoint 2013? I'd like the user to be forced to check out the document when they open it, the same way they are with office documents. So far, I've tried the following:
-for the web app set Enable Client Integration to true.
- on the web app, set Browser File Handling to strict
-on the document library, set the Opening Documents in the Browser to open in client.

the only thing that has helped is to remove the mime type of application/pdf from the web app, but this then prompts my ser to save it when they click on a pdf link. This isn't ideal.

surely, this can't be so difficult?
Question by:telliot79
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Accepted Solution

Eric C earned 500 total points
ID: 41730095
I think the problem is, modern web browsers want to be document viewers as well.  So much so, you may have noticed that when you upgrade to Windows 10 (which includes Microsoft's new Edge Browser), the default viewer for PDF files is Microsoft Edge (yuck) ... EVEN IF you already had Adobe Reader installed.

I guess Adobe kinda started the whole thing, when they made a plug-in back in the day that enabled you to view a PDF file within your web browser, without having to first download it and then open it. This convenience caught on. But it also annoys people (the same way Apple Mail (for example) displays photo attachments inline rather than as - well - what they are: Attachments).

At some point everyone started to poo-poo browser plug-ins. (Think "Flash"). So what did the Web Browser folks do? You don't like plug-ins? no problem - here's native support for viewing PDF files.

So my point is, the convenience that is now offered by in-browser PDF viewing, is (sounds like) what is causing you grief. Someone clicks on a PDF file in your web page and rather than downloading the file, it opens up in their browser.

There are a few solutions; you may want to implement more than one.

There is an html5 attribute called 'download'. This forces the browser to download the file vs open it in the browser. Useful for images, text files, PDFs, etc.  But unfortunately it is not supported/recognized by all browsers.
See here:

Another option is to add some header information using server-side code (, php, etc)
See here:

Author Comment

ID: 41730131
Eric C, this is very helpful and I'll take a look through your links as soon as time permits. I just can't believe MS would allow their to be such a discrepancy between how they handle file types. The end user doesn't care if it's an adobe file versus an office file, they want the same experience when they try and work with the file. That is, prompt to check out and work, or take a read only copy. for a short term fix, I've disabled the adobe reader IE plugin and my users are now modifying PDF docs without checking them out,  despite the doc library requiring this.... laughable.

This is also an interesting read with several others sharing my gripes:

Expert Comment

by:Eric C
ID: 41730151
I agree - in a perfect world, all documents would be handled consistently. But the browser wars continue and so each one tries to one up the other by offering a feature the others don't have. A "plug-in" free browser is what everyone wants (I am sure you will agree) and so over time, browsers start to have native support for functions that used to require plug-ins. Browsers can now natively play videos, play music, play animations, render transitions, display text documents, and... display PDF files.

Assisted Solution

telliot79 earned 0 total points
ID: 41731864

Author Closing Comment

ID: 41731865
thanks eric c.

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