We are using SharePoint 2013 for an information portal which contains many PDF files.

Working with them is often problematic, as the system uses the Office Web Applications preview to display those PDF files. This was used (I suppose) by the SharePoint developers to also enable a direct live preview of PDF files in search results, which was not available in the original SharePoint 2013 system.

It would often be better to open the PDF in Adobe Reader or another PDF viewer application, but there is no comfortable way to open the PDF in an external viewer directly.

I could only download it to the local hard drive and then search for it and open it there, but that is very cumbersome.

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  • Which PDF viewer can be used for displaying PDFs in SharePoint 2013 in the Browser?
  • Could SharePoint be configured to use external applications like Adobe Reader to open PDFs?

2 Answers 2


Assuming this is an onsite SharePoint 2013 implementation, you can enable permissive file handling for the web application which allows PDF files to be viewed in the browser rather than downloaded only.

Edit the settings for the web application concerned in Central Administration for the farm and modify the browser file handling settings from 'strict' to 'permissive' (it's about half way down the list of general settings for the web application) and save the settings. This should enable PDFs to open in the browser.

  • 1
    You should rather add PDF to the list of MIME types that are allowed to be inline edited as described here: mssharepointtips.com/tip.asp?id=1187 . Setting filehandling to Permissiveis most oftenly unneccesary and introduces unneeded risk Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 12:20

Since you are using a OWA server. Remove the binding for "WordPFD" using SharePoint PowerShell. This will allow you to open PDFs in the Default Application set on your computer. Here is the script:

Get-SPWOPIBinding -Application "WordPDF" | Remove-SPWOPIBinding -Confirm:$false

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