How Chrome’s Built-In PDF Viewer Lets You Do More Than Just Read PDFs
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 and there are a few cool apps to annotate PDFs online . 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.
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.
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 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!