Using Adobe Acrobat to view PDF’s in Safari 5.1.x and Mac OS X 10.6.8

Safari no longer displays PDF files.. and hasn’t done so on my machine for months. It does not bother me much, as I prefer to download them anyway, by clicking in the URL bar and then holding option and then hitting return, which downloads them.

But a client called and complained that they needed to be able to fill in online pdf forms, and when they clicked the link all they got was a black screen, so I went and figured it out:

On Mac OS X 10.6.8 with up to date versions of Safari, you need to make sure that Safari is running in 64 bit mode for the Acrobat reader plugin to work.

To get it to do so, quit Safari, go to it in your applications folder, right click on Safari and Get Info. Empty the checkbox that says “Open in 32 bit mode”. Launch Safari, and viewing PDF’s in Safari with Acrobat Reader will now work.

You can also run into problems if you have Acrobat Reader and Acrobat Pro installed, any updates to the Pro version may mess up your browser plugins. To fix this you need to delete the plugins and reinstall Acrobat Reader.

The AdobePDFViewer plug-in is used to display PDF files in Safari using Acrobat and Reader. This plug-in is installed as part of the Acrobat X or Reader X installation. The location of this plug-in is:

Macintosh HD/Library/Internet Plug-ins/AdobePDFViewer.plugin

Details are from Adobe’s Help page: Troubleshoot Safari Plug-in

To remove the plugin: Quit Safari, then go and delete the plugin. Yes there’s a second one, called AdobePDFViewerNPAPI.plugin, you can ignore it.

Then reinstall the latest version of Acrobat reader. You can find various installers on Adobe’s Acrobat Reader Download Page.

I should also mention: if you have need to use Acrobat Reader to view PDF’s in Safari and would prefer to use the built in viewer, just go and delete both the plugins mentioned above and then restart Safari.