Firefox 78: Set Firefox as the default PDF viewer on Windows - gHacks Tech News

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Firefox 78: Set Firefox as the default PDF viewer on Windows

If you use the Firefox web browser to view PDF documents, you may have noticed that it is not possible to make it the default application for PDF files on Windows.

While you can open any PDF document in the Firefox web browser, it is not possible to associate the browser with the file type to load PDFs in the browser automatically, e.g. on double-click.

Firefox's installer does not associate PDF files with the browser, and that has been an intentional decision according to Mozilla.

The installer is responsible for registering support for default file associations on Windows. We've always intentionally left PDF out of that list, but that decision may be changing soon, so I'm moving this bug so that it can find its way into the installer team's planning.

Mozilla does not reveal why it has made the decision, but announced plans to change the handling of PDF file associations in Firefox 78, at least on Windows 10.

If you run Firefox 78 already, e.g. as a Nightly, Beta or Developer edition, you may be able to set Firefox as the default PDF handler already, e.g. when downloading a PDF document to the local system.

firefox open pdf documents

A new "open with" Firefox option should be displayed at the top and you may check the "Do this automatically for files like this from now on" option to automate the process and have Firefox open PDF documents automatically.

Firefox may also be associated with the PDF file type in Windows 10's Settings application. Just open Settings > Apps > Default Apps > Choose default apps by type, scroll down to PDF (why still no search on the page, Microsoft?), select PDF, and pick Firefox from the list of options to make the application the default PDF handler on the system.

windows 10 pdf firefox

Most Chromium-based browsers add themselves as the PDF handler on Windows 10 systems.

Closing Words

The addition of the option is a welcome change. While it may only be useful to a small set of Firefox users, those who want to set Firefox as the default PDF handler, it is a good move as its puzzling why Firefox is able to open PDF documents but cannot be set as the default program for the file type.

Firefox users who install the browser anew or upgrade the browser on Windows will benefit from the change.

I prefer to use a standalone PDF tool to view documents. Sumatra is my tool of choice provided that the PDF documents don't have advanced functionality that Sumatra does not support.

Now You: How do you open PDF documents? (via Techdows)

Summary
Firefox 78: Set Firefox as the default PDF viewer on Windows
Article Name
Firefox 78: Set Firefox as the default PDF viewer on Windows
Description
Firefox users on Windows may set the browser as the default handler for PDF documents from Firefox 78 onward.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. The Equestrian said on June 3, 2020 at 7:31 am
    Reply

    I have Sumatra PDF, why would I want a crippled, disabled wannabe PDF viewer as my default?

    1. Iron Heart said on June 3, 2020 at 8:33 am
      Reply

      +1

      Came here to say the same thing. Sumatra PDF is the best.

      1. Stan said on June 4, 2020 at 8:36 pm
        Reply

        +2 Great bit of gear, used it for years.

    2. motang said on June 3, 2020 at 2:40 pm
      Reply

      I used to use Sumatra, but since Okular came out on Windows I have been using that since I also use that on my Kubuntu systems.

    3. Tom Hawack said on June 4, 2020 at 12:34 am
      Reply

      SumatraPDF here as well (latest 3.2.0 (x64) version).

      Generally speaking I have a rule which is to never associate a file type with a browser (besides of course html and the like within what is assumed as one’s default browser). A browser is a browser, not a computer and I don’t share the concept of universal integration. Divide, compartmentalize ans security/privacy will smile.

      Regarding Firefox’s native PDF viewer, I encounter no issues besides one : some PDFs will require browser.display.use_document_fonts to be true which is bothering if you’ve set it to false as I have. Other than that, no problem.

    4. jan said on June 4, 2020 at 4:58 pm
      Reply

      Right

      FF should concentrate on the browser and stay away of applications where they have little experience.

      Also an introductory course in logical thinking and concise writing would not hurt.
      They say:
      Firefox’s installer does not associate PDF files with the browser, and that has been an intentional decision according to Mozilla.

      The installer is responsible for registering support for default file associations on Windows. We’ve always intentionally left PDF out of that list, but that decision may be changing soon, so I’m moving this bug so that it can find its way into the installer team’s planning.
      What was it: a wrong decision or a bug???

  2. Rex said on June 3, 2020 at 9:22 am
    Reply

    This idiotic trend of stuffing everything into the browser taken to an extreme. Using stupid crap like Electron which is just a window with a Chrome wrapper running a webpage, or expecting your browser to be a dedicated media player instead of getting one separately. I’m actually surprised better sense prevailed at Mozilla.

  3. John C. said on June 3, 2020 at 9:43 am
    Reply

    Why in the world would I want to view a .pdf file in a browser? I’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen on my system. Browsers are for .htm files, not .pdf files. I open all my .pdf files in PDF-XChange Viewer (freeware.)

  4. pndy said on June 3, 2020 at 10:24 am
    Reply

    The question is not why you’d want to use web browser as pdf viewer (which is a ridiculous idea anyway) but why They want you to use it as such; my bet is all about tracking and profiling once again.

    1. brendan said on June 3, 2020 at 6:26 pm
      Reply

      Well they have their Activity Stream technology and all the potential for data mining sprouting from that. Theres chatter about contextual AI being worked on in the browser. These things need to be watched for abuse, huge new oportunities for sneaking out and monetising data and behaviour.

  5. allen said on June 3, 2020 at 11:42 am
    Reply

    Adding the ability for a browser to safely view (only view, not modify) certain “web” files without needing plugins or helpers was a good idea. (The web is full of .pdf files.) But one hardly needs to be able to integrate the browser as the default system viewer for such files; it’s easy to use a browser as a .pdf viewer w/o this. It’s just an extra layer that’s unneeded, efficient though it may be workflow-wise.

    (Of course, Chrome does this already [with ChromeOS].)

  6. Gerard said on June 3, 2020 at 12:31 pm
    Reply

    Using a web browser as PDF viewer is a ridiculous idea, as someone remarked.
    Linux users may want to try qpdfview.

  7. Kubrick said on June 3, 2020 at 12:47 pm
    Reply

    Just set your default pdf viewer with the operating system or simply turn off the browser feature.
    Some people find it easier and quicker to use it within browser.

    No need for such a hoorah about it.

  8. james said on June 3, 2020 at 1:18 pm
    Reply

    More options for tracking and selling data, oh mozilla you have done it again

  9. JC said on June 3, 2020 at 5:08 pm
    Reply

    Personally I would strongly suggest not making Firefox your default pdf viewer. The last 8 years they have never fixed the autorotate when printing PDF. So you’ll be frustrated as hell as you constantly manually change the orientation to print.

  10. DevCon said on June 3, 2020 at 7:31 pm
    Reply

    Huh? I’ve been using Firefox as my default pdf viewer for at least a year now.

    Why do I open pdf files in Firefox? It’s super quick to open pdf files since Firefox is always running, scrolling is very smooth and it works perfectly with my workflow thanks to opening in a tab right next to what I’m currently doing.

  11. GL1zdA said on June 3, 2020 at 9:20 pm
    Reply

    I view most of my PDFs in Firefox. It’s always open so they open instantly. I have SumatraPDF for the image-heavy ones (like scanned books with hundreds of pages), because it’s faster when rendering such PDFs.

    The idea of rendering PDFs with the browser is acutally pretty smart. The process is similar to what the browser does when rendering HTML (https://andreasgal.com/2011/06/15/pdf-js/) and being more secure then PDF readers is another benefit.

  12. Sebas said on June 4, 2020 at 7:31 am
    Reply

    Using Sumatra for years. Yes the workflow might be faster but I have no need for tracking in the browser.

  13. Tom Hawack said on July 1, 2020 at 3:39 pm
    Reply

    I just noticed that Firefox 78 has associated PDF with Firefox, and I don’t like that.
    It’s enough to know that such an association is possible, then it’s up to the user to decide, but doing this automatically is rude.
    I re-associated PDF with Sumatra.

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