How To


Topic PDF Tools
Date 25-Feb-2013


Your browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and several others) is the program you use to interact with the world wide web, aka "the Internet".  If you are running on a PC, you are probably using Internet Explorer.  If you are running on a MAC, you are probably running Safari.

As you browse web sites and click on links, your browser needs to know what you want it to do when it encounters certain types of files.  In the vast majority of cases, you want your browser to use the "default settings".  So when you encounter a pdf file, the chances are your browser will use the pdf file reader from Adobe products called Adobe Acrobat Reader.  It is the most popular pdf tool and is often heavily recommended by sites that have pdf files.  That is not because it is "better" than other tools (Nitro and Foxit are other pdf tools that are quite good) but rather because encouraging you to use it reduces the complexity of supporting the site.  The job of the auto mechanic would be a lot easier if everyone drove a 2010 Ford Taurus

Unfortunately, it gets a little more complicated because there are two quite different ways that your browser can handle a pdf file:

It can pass it to your pdf tool (probably Acrobat) on your computer; the pdf tool opens the file and you do whatever you want to do with it. 

the other approach is for your browser to open a pdf "plug-in" that runs in a browser window. 

You can check to see your browser's "application settings" fairly easily:

Internet Explorer:

Firefox:  click on Tools | Options | Applications to see a list of various file types and what Firefox will do when it encounters them.  If you scroll down to PDF File (application/pdf), you will likely see "Use Adobe Acrobat (in Firefox)"


A recent change to the most popular pdf file reader (Adobe Acrobat Reader) has created some issues where people can not easily download or print pdf files. 

Adobe Acrobat Reader 11 (AAR11) can be a little confusing.  It is not obvious how to print a file nor how to download.  If you are using the "plug-in" version of AAR11 (pretty common), it runs "inside" your browser window.  The menu bar at the top of your browser does not control how AAR11 works or what it does.  You need to move your cursor to the bottom center of the browser window -- a translucent menu will appear that controls AAR11.  A sample is shown below

The far left pick allows you to save the pdf file

The next pic (looks like a printer) allows you to print the file

The next two icons control up and down scrolling

The next two control the visible page

the - and + control zoom

the far right opens the Tools menu


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