Sunday, December 5, 2010

Google Chrome 8 Built-in PDF Viewer

With its latest stable release, version 8.0.552.215, Google Chrome finally has a native PDF Viewer. No longer will the browser need to use Adobe’s own Reader PDF Plugin for internet browsers. It is actually automatically disabled upon updating to this latest Chrome version.

Lightweight and Fast

Chrome PDF Viewer takes away most functions that it is pretty much a barebones viewer. Only four buttons – used for zooming – are present side by side at the lower right portion. Practically they are useless since you can zoom and scroll up/down quicker using your mouse scroll wheel and the Ctrl key.

Chrome PDF Viewer

The best thing about the viewer is, being minimal, PDF files are loaded fast. Also, the viewer is secured in Chrome’s sandbox, a means to prevent malicious code to be executed (though you will still be at risk, once you decide to download the PDF file). It is also updated and managed automatically by the browser.

Features Most Missed

What it makes up for speed and security, it lacks for usability. Below are much needed features that I am hoping will be available on further Chrome updates.

  • Print with advanced settings
  • Bookmarks and pagination
  • the Snapshot tool
  • the different Select & Zoom tools

I can think of three choices as workarounds to the missing features. First, you wait for updates. Second, re-enable the Adobe plug-in. And third, just download the PDF file and open it using Adobe Reader.

Downloading a PDF viewed by PDF Viewer

So you’re a risk taker, eh? Downloading a PDF file comes in handy, obviously so you can have an offline copy.

Anyway, to download a PDF file currently viewed using the native/built-in Chrome PDF Viewer, just

  • Press Ctrl-S, which opens a Save dialog. Similarly,
  • Click Chrome’s Wrench tool button, located at the upper right. Then select Save page as….

Can’t Get Enough of Adobe PDF Plug-in?

If due to reasons similar above you don’t want to part with Adobe, re-enabling the plug-in can be done in two easy steps:

  1. Type in Chrome’s omnibar / address bar chrome://plugins/ or about:plugins to open the Chrome Plug-ins list page.
  2. Search for Adobe Reader PDF Plug-in and click Enable.

Enable Adobe Reader Plugin

When it is re-enabled, Chrome PDF Viewer becomes disabled; you can only use one viewer.

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