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Why do some PDFs open in Firefox but others need to be opened with Acrobat?

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Firefox seems to open most PDFs directly but some it wants to open using an external program. Is there some limitation of PDF versions or content?

Firefox seems to open most PDFs directly but some it wants to open using an external program. Is there some limitation of PDF versions or content?

Additional System Details

Installed Plug-ins

  • ActiveTouch General Plugin Container Version 105
  • Adobe PDF Plug-In For Firefox and Netscape 11.0.11
  • Citrix Receiver Plugin (Win32)
  • Google Update
  • NPRuntime Script Plug-in Library for Java(TM) Deploy
  • Next Generation Java Plug-in 10.67.2 for Mozilla browsers
  • The plugin allows you to have a better experience with Microsoft Lync
  • Shockwave Flash 20.0 r0
  • Adobe Shockwave for Director Netscape plug-in, version 12.2.2.172
  • 5.1.41212.0

Application

  • User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.3; WOW64; rv:38.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/38.0

More Information

jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
8792 solutions 71910 answers

If Firefox does not even try to load the file, the server might have sent it with a non-standard header. Two scenarios:

(1) Normally, a server will send the content-type "application/pdf" ahead of the file. If the server sends a different content-type, then Firefox will not handle it as a PDF.

(2) Normally, a server does not specify whether content can be viewed in the browser or must be saved. If the server send a header indicating that the content-disposition is "attachment" then Firefox will always display the download dialog. (There is an add-on you can use to work around this if you like: https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/ad.../inlinedisposition/)

If Firefox does not even try to load the file, the server might have sent it with a non-standard header. Two scenarios: (1) Normally, a server will send the content-type "application/pdf" ahead of the file. If the server sends a different content-type, then Firefox will not handle it as a PDF. (2) Normally, a server does not specify whether content can be viewed in the browser or must be saved. If the server send a header indicating that the content-disposition is "attachment" then Firefox will always display the download dialog. (There is an add-on you can use to work around this if you like: [https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/addon/inlinedisposition/])