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Why does the Windows 7 desktop theme interfere with PDF's showing inside Firefox and how to fix it?

  • 5 replies
  • 1 has this problem
  • Last reply by cor-el

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Windows 7 Firefox 28.0 Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro (my default PDF viewer)

I have the browser set to display PDF's: "Use Adobe Acrobat in Firefox." This works fine for a while, then it stops working. I get a white page instead with a pop-up window: "Adobe Acrobat" in the top left corner, a blue question mark in the message field and an OK button on the lower right corner. Clicking the OK button does nothing. Changing the desktop theme image to "Windows 7 Basic" magically cures the problem. After changing the desktop image back to the personalized image, the PDF's will continue showing for a brief period, then they will stop again until resetting the theme to "Windows 7 Basic" again. Can this problem be cured permanently?

All Replies (5)

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In order to be able to find the correct solution to your problem, we require some more non-personal information from you. Please do the following:

  • Click the Firefox button at the top left, then click the Help menu and select Troubleshooting Information from the submenu. If you don't have a Firefox button, click the Help menu at the top and select Troubleshooting Information from the menu.

Now, a new tab containing your troubleshooting information should open.

  • At the top of the page, you should see a button that says "Copy text to clipboard". Click it.
  • Now, go back to your forum post and click inside the reply box. Press Ctrl+V to paste all the information you copied into the forum post.

If you need further information about the Troubleshooting information page, please read the article Use the Troubleshooting Information page to help fix Firefox issues.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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Application Basics

Name: Firefox Version: 28.0 User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:28.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/28.0

Crash Reports for the Last 3 Days

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Important Modified Preferences

browser.cache.disk.capacity: 358400 browser.cache.disk.smart_size.first_run: false browser.cache.disk.smart_size.use_old_max: false browser.cache.disk.smart_size_cached_value: 358400 browser.places.smartBookmarksVersion: 6 browser.sessionstore.upgradeBackup.latestBuildID: 20140314220517 browser.startup.homepage: browser.startup.homepage_override.buildID: 20140314220517 browser.startup.homepage_override.mstone: 28.0 browser.tabs.warnOnClose: false dom.mozApps.used: true extensions.lastAppVersion: 28.0 font.internaluseonly.changed: false gfx.direct3d.last_used_feature_level_idx: 1 network.cookie.prefsMigrated: true places.database.lastMaintenance: 1398447417 places.history.expiration.transient_current_max_pages: 104858 plugin.disable_full_page_plugin_for_types: plugin.importedState: true privacy.sanitize.migrateFx3Prefs: true storage.vacuum.last.index: 1 storage.vacuum.last.places.sqlite: 1398102862


Adapter Description: Intel(R) G41 Express Chipset Adapter Drivers: igdumd64 igd10umd64 igdumdx32 igd10umd32 Adapter RAM: Unknown Device ID: 0x2e32 Direct2D Enabled: true DirectWrite Enabled: true (6.2.9200.16492) Driver Date: 2-11-2011 Driver Version: GPU #2 Active: false GPU Accelerated Windows: 1/1 Direct3D 10 Vendor ID: 0x8086 WebGL Renderer: Google Inc. -- ANGLE (Intel(R) G41 Express Chipset Direct3D9Ex vs_3_0 ps_3_0) windowLayerManagerRemote: false AzureCanvasBackend: direct2d AzureContentBackend: direct2d AzureFallbackCanvasBackend: cairo AzureSkiaAccelerated: 0


Incremental GC: true


Activated: false Prevent Accessibility: 0

Library Versions

NSPR Expected minimum version: 4.10.3 Version in use: 4.10.3

NSS Expected minimum version: 3.15.5 Basic ECC Version in use: 3.15.5 Basic ECC

NSSSMIME Expected minimum version: 3.15.5 Basic ECC Version in use: 3.15.5 Basic ECC

NSSSSL Expected minimum version: 3.15.5 Basic ECC Version in use: 3.15.5 Basic ECC

NSSUTIL Expected minimum version: 3.15.5 Version in use: 3.15.5

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Does this only happen with the Adobe Reader plugin?

Does temporarily switching to the built-in PDF Viewer has the same effect?

You can try to disable hardware acceleration in Firefox (you need to close and restart Firefox).

  • Tools > Options > Advanced > General > Browsing: "Use hardware acceleration when available"
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Thanks for your reply.

I tried all the options but none of them worked. I do not have any Extensions installed in Firefox.

Starting Firefox in "Safe Mode" cures the problem but when I re-open it in full mode, the problem returns. I found that clicking the OK button in the blank pop-up window, after which nothing happens, if I reload the page the PDF magically shows up, the same way as is it does when I change the Windows theme back to Windows 7 Basic. So each time I need to view a PDF inside the browser, I need to reload the page, often multiple times, until the PDF shows up.

This never happens in IE 11.0. Google Chrome does not offer the option of opening a PDF in Acrobat inside the browser window, it always opens inside the browser in its own version of the Acrobat reader.

I really wish this easily reproducible error could be solved permanently without the above described nuisance.

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Google Chrome has a page similar to the Firefox about:plugins page that has the chrome://plugins/ URL (about:plugins opens this page as well) that allows to disable its built-in Chrome PDF Viewer if you want to test this.