Stop Edge from opening PDF files

How annoying it is that Edge continuously opens PDF files in the browser. I can’t prevent Edge from opening PDF files in its browser window. Even if I change the default file type association from Edge to Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.

I researched this further and found a way to open PDF files with Adobe Reader by default.

How to stop Microsoft Edge from opening PDF files

The problem that Edge opens PDF files instead of downloading has two causes: the default file type association is not set correctly, and Edge is not set to always open PDF files externally.

Below is a step by step guide on how to fix these two settings. Here’s step 1:

Change the default file type association for PDF

  1. Press Windows + I key to launch Windows Settings.
  2. Click on Apps and select Default apps from the left pane.
  3. Now scroll down and click on Choose default apps by file type.
    choose default apps
    Be patient. It may take a few seconds to load all the list of file types
  4. Scroll and look for .pdf, .pdxml, and .pdx file type, then click on the + sign to change it to Adobe Reader.
    choose acrobat reader as pdf

Did you know you can change the default application for many more file extensions and protocols? For example, earlier I wrote an article about how you could change your default mail application when you click on a MAILTO link

You have now set Adobe Acrobat Reader DC as the default PDF viewer. Now you only have to set Edge in Edge that you want to open PDF files in an external application. Here’s step 2:

Open PDF files externally in Edge

  1. Open Microsoft Edge
  2. Click on the three dots (…) at the right top corner.
  3. Select Settings from the drop down and click on Site permissions from the left pane. (Note: in some versions of Edge, this section is called Cookies and Site Permissions)
    edge site permissions
  4. Scroll down and click on PDF documents, Toggle the switch to On for Always open PDF files externally.
    always open PDF files
  5. Notes: If the Always open PDF files is externally on then if you try to open any online PDF document, it will prompt you to download and later you can use Adobe Reader to view.

Pro tip: Instead of clicking the three dots, Settings, Site Permissions and then PDF Documents (which is kinda cumbersome), you may also enter the URL edge://settings/content/pdfDocuments. This will lead you immediately to the PDF documents page.

This should prevent Microsoft Edge from opening PDF files in the browser window. You may validate the solution by searching for “sample pdf” in a search engine like Bing of Google . I often use the PDF995 sample file as it is small and reliable. The expected result when clicking a PDF link is a download box appearing at the bottom of your browser. Click on it to open the PDF file in your preferred external PDF reader.

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Jeffrey Kaplan

No longer a valid fix. Those settings are gone in Edge 90.


I followed your instructions. All I get is the option to “Always download PDF files” which is not what I want. The option for always opening PDF files externally is not available.


All options I have found tell you to “Set default app by type” “Set default app by protocol” and “Set default apps” Have done all that but this doesn’t work. On reboot it just defaults again along with Email defaulting to Edge and Browser defaulting to Edge.

Gavin Hollis

You now have two options in there: Always download PDF files
(Download PDF files to your device. If Microsoft Edge is your default PDF reader, PDF files will open automatically without downloading.) and PDF view settings (Open PDFs to last viewed location when you reopen files). I turned both on, and bingo. Same effect (now opens in default app.)


Hallelujah!!! Turning on both options: Always download PDF files, and PDF view settings fixed the problem with Edge opening .pdf files.

The problem I was having is that every downloaded pdf would open in Edge unless I went to File Explorer and opened the pdf from the Download folder.


Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!


Sadly not working anymore. If Edge is the default browser, it will always take over

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