How Chrome’s Built-In PDF Viewer Lets You Do More Than Just Read PDFs

Mihir Patkar 02-10-2013

The next time you have to fill out a form in a PDF or split a PDF’s pages, you don’t need to dig around for your Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader or web app to do the job. As long as you have Google Chrome installed, that’s all you need.


Chrome comes with a built-in PDF Viewer tool that can be used to do a lot more than just read PDF files. Sure, it’s not as powerful as Windows programs like PDFSam Use PDFSam To Easily Split, Merge, & Reorder PDF Pages PDFSam, short for “PDF Split and Merge,” is a great utility for quick PDF editing. You can combine multiple PDF documents into a single PDF document, split a PDF into multiple files, extract pages from... Read More and there are a few cool apps to annotate PDFs online 2 Ways to Annotate Your PDF Files Online Read More . Still, as a quick-fix solution, Chrome is perfect.

You first need to check if you have enabled PDF Viewer in Chrome. Head to the Omnibox and type:


If you see ‘Disable’ as a link under Chrome PDF Viewer, it’s already switched on. If you see ‘Enable’, click that and restart the browser.

The Chrome PDF Viewer can be used to read any PDF, whether online or stored locally. For local files, open a new tab and drag-and-drop the document.


With that out of the way, let’s see what you can do with this handy utility.

Split Pages


Suppose you have a PDF file with 20 pages and you only want pages 2, 7, 11, 12 and 13. Open the file in Chrome PDF Viewer and take your mouse to the bottom-right corner. A toolbar will show up with options to fit the page horizontally or vertically, zoom in and out, save the PDF and Print Options. Click the last icon, i.e. Print Options.

Hit the ‘Change’ button under Destination and in the menu, choose ‘Save As PDF’. Now, in the Pages, choose the second option and type the numbers of the pages you want in the new document, separating them by commas and specifying ranges with a dash. So for example, for the above document, you would write “2, 7, 11-13”.


Click the Save button and download a new PDF to your hard drive which has only the pages you want.

Fill Out Forms And Save Them


If you need to fill out a PDF form — which most government documents require you to — it can be done easily through the Chrome PDF Viewer. Not only is it faster, but it also looks more professional.

Open the fillable form in Chrome and just start typing. It really is as simple as that. Chrome smartly detects spaces to fill out and lets you type there. However, this isn’t a foolproof method and there are some forms Chrome can’t detect. For example, I tried it with an Indian railway form where half the text was in Hindi and it didn’t work.


Still, the bigger problem is saving the form after you are done. If you hit the “Save” button in the toolbar, it will just save the blank original PDF without the text you entered. To save the text, you need to again hit the Print option, choose ‘Save as PDF’ in the Destination and click Save to download the filled out form.

Rotate Document


Need to change the orientation of any PDF? This is a hidden gem in Chrome PDF Viewer that not many are aware of.

Open a PDF in a new tab and right click anywhere in the document. In the context menu, you will see options to ‘Rotate clockwise’ and ‘Rotate counterclockwise’. Choose what you want to do, and save the file through the Print -> Save as PDF -> Save method mentioned earlier.


The only problem is that this will rotate the whole document and not individual pages. But by using this with the ‘Split Pages’ trick above, you can get your desired effect easily.

Save Web Pages As PDF


The Chrome PDF Viewer can also be used to save any web page as a PDF file for you to read later or offline.

Hit Ctrl+P (or Cmd+P on a Mac) to bring up the Print options. Choose the pages you want, layout (portrait/landscape), whether you want to include headers, footers, background colours and images, and set the margin. The ability to set custom margins is a pretty cool feature here.

Once you’re done, again, use the Print -> Save as PDF -> Save method to download the file to your hard drive.

The One Missing Feature

As you can see, the Chrome PDF Viewer has a lot of functionality you probably didn’t know about for something that comes packaged as a core feature of product. But there’s still one thing I wish it had: the ability the sign documents. I love that I can fill out forms, but so many of them require a signature and I still have to turn to a solution like HelloSign HelloSign: Use Electronic Signatures On Documents [Web & iOS] Read More for that.

So if there was one feature you would want in the Chrome PDF Viewer, what would that be? And if you have any cool uses for the PDF Viewer that we didn’t list here, let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Google Chrome, PDF, PDF Editor.

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  1. Bert
    February 27, 2019 at 3:18 am

    Can I edit a file again once it's already been saved? I saved it with the steps listed above but I can't make anymore changes after I saved it once.

  2. Lee Blevins
    June 15, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    This does not work.
    When saving the pdf it is no longer a form.
    It converts it to a regular NON-FORM pdf.
    I have to advise users to not use Chrome when managing web based PDF forms.

  3. Delene
    April 9, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    The ability to edit font sizes would be great. Also for the form to sense when the fillable space is full and move to another line. Instead the font becomes smaller as you type more words.

  4. KO
    March 13, 2017 at 4:23 am

    The easiest solution: First edit pdf file using chrome as some has built in write protection which cannot be open and edited by another famous tool: Microsoft Word. After saved as PDF in Chrome, subsequent edition can be done in Word directly. Not the best experience as using both Apps but free method, no complains :-).

  5. colin
    February 8, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    As many have commented previously, enabling more intuitive ability to download fillable forms after data is entered -- and maintaining ability to edit later -- would be most welcome. But aside from this, if someone does decide to download a PDF after viewing it in the browser, Chrome should realize at this point not to open the downloaded file in the browser when you click on the convenient notification bar that appears at the bottom of the browser window. The point of having downloaded it would now be to open it in a default PDF program like Acrobat.

  6. pdfchrome
    December 21, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Once I fill out a PDF and save it on my local drive, I want to open and edit it again. Chrome is not allowing me to edit. Any suggestions?

  7. Ian
    November 24, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Omnibox ? twat
    we come here for help

  8. Bob
    November 22, 2016 at 6:29 am

    So the Chrome PDF Viewer doesn't support form field saving via the API? This kinda sucks.

  9. eric
    November 16, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    Requiring 'Print' to save field values badly breaks consistency with every other forms-capable PDF reader out there. It's a defect, and the product should never have been allowed out the door with it. but since it's now 2016 & the defect still exists, we shouldn't assume it will ever be fixed.

    For that reason, one should never plan to distribute fillable forms via a web link unles you have some means of guaranteeing that the end-user will never, ever load that file in the Chrome PDF viewer.

  10. Kevin
    November 10, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    The ability to see attachments embedded within the PDF - we use that a lot with where we have a single document per case limitation - embed attachments in the pdf, voila, single document that doubles as a document store. Sadly you can't see those with the built in reader.

  11. mava
    October 20, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Just being able to search with in the pdf would be awesome

  12. Nitin Surana
    October 6, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Another missing feature is to have the ability to remember the page one was in. So that when he opens the same PDF again, he's automatically taken to the same page number.

  13. Adam
    July 24, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    Thanks for these tips. Unfortunately, filling out forms is still troublesome; the "print as PDF" approach removes the fillable fields, so you have to be finished when you do this. No saving partially complete forms or going back to make edits.

    • Teresa
      September 20, 2016 at 11:47 am

      I agree!!!!!!
      We have many forms that our employees need to complete in the field and then forward to another employee to complete. I can have the first employee 'save' it, but it takes away the rights to the next employee. VERY FRUSTRATING to have electronic forms that you can't use!!!!

      • doug
        February 18, 2017 at 9:01 pm

        Try ditching PDF forms and try Google Forms for that use case. Works great!

  14. Gabe
    July 24, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    The ability to load the last viewed page.

  15. Valerie
    July 12, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    I need to be able to view bookmarks on existing PDF files....

  16. Tara
    May 4, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    I second being about to read annotations. I really need to read the comments, but it doesn't do anything when I hover over the text with the annotations embedded in them. This is a huge issue and very, very frustrating.

    • skn
      March 1, 2017 at 11:13 am

      annotation is sorely needed.

  17. nancy
    April 26, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    is it safe to drag and drop sensitive files to Chrome to Split them? meaning does Chrome save them anywhere else but where you tell it to on your hard drive? ie history, cloud etc?

  18. Joe
    March 28, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Comments from Adobe Acrobat Reader are not displayed when using Chrome's built in PDF viewer. This is a major problem for me because I use comments as mouse-over effects. For example if you had an employee roster and wanted to scroll over their name to get there job responsibilities. If anyone knows how to keep this formatting from Adobe to Chrome it would be much appreciated.

  19. Mm Black
    January 5, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    My Chrome plugin is enabled but I am still not able to view PDF's from the web. It seems to work when I am opening a PDF in Google Mail but from other various internet websites, the screen gets a notification that tells me the Adobe is out of date.

    When I update to the newest version of Adobe, I get a notification that reads that Adobe currently has the newest update installed.

    Frustrated. Do not prefer Internet Explorer but PDFs on that search engine do not make me jump through hoops to read a document.

  20. Roger W Turner
    December 27, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    I want to be able to view 2 pages at a time with a cover page option.

  21. Mark
    December 21, 2015 at 5:00 am

    Are you sure you can rotate a PDF and then save it as rotated? Any time I save it the new pdf is not rotated.

  22. Crystal
    December 3, 2015 at 1:14 am

    Is there any way to get the form pdf back after you've exited the tab? I did not know you couldn't Save pdfs directly, but had to use the Print option instead. I filled out my Annual Self Review for work, which took 3 hours, and it didn't save!

  23. EL
    November 26, 2015 at 7:01 am

    Very helpful, thanks for posting!

  24. Tony
    November 19, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    I am having trouble getting a fillable pdf that i uploaded onto my site, to "submit". i created the form in Acrobat, set it up so that visitors could send the filled info to a specific email account when the "submit" button is clicked, but nothing happens...?

    i gratefully accept feedback on how to solve this. Thank you in advance.

    • Teresa
      September 20, 2016 at 11:50 am

      Another feature of the electronic form that has been taken away by Chrome!!! Leave the electronic forms alone and allow them to be submitted to a second 'employee' and then completed. Frustrating to spend long hours creating very intricate forms to only have them not work for any of our Chrome users!! Please fix sooner than later!!!!!

  25. Shirley Brown
    November 12, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    It would be wonderful to be able to crop and set the intial view for the document. Also, the MOST important for me would be the ability to "click and drag" to zoom in on a particular area of a file!

  26. Anonymous
    September 23, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    I would definitely like to be able to view two pages at once for a pdf. Right now I'm zooming in and it's wasting my screen real estate that could be used to have 2 pages pulled up at once. This would give this extension a huge boost :)

  27. Anonymous
    September 22, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I’d like to send PDF to email (as attachment) using a button press or a context menu item.

  28. Anonymous
    August 7, 2015 at 9:41 am

    I'd like to send PDF to email (as attachment) using a button press or a context menu item

  29. Emily
    April 24, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    I wish it could force the PDF to open in the 2-page view. Right now this is only available with the full Acrobat Professional :(

  30. User
    April 7, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    PDF forms CAN be saved with forms filled in (and I don't mean by "printing to PDF" - I mean saved, where the form fields are still editable if the saved PDF is opened up again - Evince can do this.

    BUT.. The current version of evince does not support being able to tab from field to field (there is a "development" version that does, but that is not available for the current stable version of debian linux.

    So, it would be very nice if Chrome would add this feature

  31. Becky
    April 1, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    Fantastic!! That's hardly adequate to describe how happy I am to have this information! Imagine the same task of saving an online form without a printer or scanner and NOT having this knowledge!! Thanks again!

  32. Ludo
    March 23, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Actually being able to display comments included in the pdf file...

  33. davey
    December 31, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Two-page view (full-screen reading)

  34. bob
    December 15, 2014 at 10:44 am

    You can't reedit the filled and saved (as PDF) form, as far as I see.

  35. anon
    December 19, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Bookmark pages or ability to start at last page read.

  36. CathyP
    November 23, 2013 at 12:34 am

    Nice! And I was able to just easily save this article as a PDF so I could refer back to it!

  37. Demain LaPointe
    October 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Adobe allows for an electronic reader option. Under edit option is activate read outloud. I would love it if students with reading disabilities could have this option as a Chrome feature.

  38. Daniel E
    October 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Pamphlet printing. Adobe Acrobat has that