I've been used to downloading PDFs on my phone and have them directly saved on my downloads folder. But just recently, whenever I download PDFs, Google Drive viewer shows up. I know there's a download option on Google Drive viewer. But when I open the file, it prompts that there's no app that can read it. I have Acrobat and Drive that I used to read PDFs with.

I think from some of the research I did, the update for Google Drive makes it the default for opening PDFs. I checked the defaults, it did not have one. I just uninstalled the update for Google Drive as a temporary solution.

I think I changed the defaults by accident (I did not assign one before). How do I change that, if ever?

My phone's a Samsung S5. I'm using Chrome for it.

  • Which OS version is it currently running?
    – Chahk
    Feb 5, 2016 at 20:19
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of How do I change the default Complete Action With?
    – Firelord
    Feb 6, 2016 at 13:31
  • 1
    Note there is an app called google pdf viewer and a a function within drive called drive pdf viewer, wich are different. The first one can be unistalled in application manager. Jan 12, 2017 at 23:50
  • I have almost the identical issue. The main problem for me is when I download the PDF and it automatically opens in the Drive viewer, it always shows up as a blank document. Did you get this fixed ever?
    – AutoBaker
    Jul 28, 2020 at 14:41
  • [Can’t “answer” yet] Essentially, one needs to “get back” to the “Choose application for PDF” prompt — no other manipulation via “Applications” setting will typically work. There are two ways to get to this prompt: install ANY new application supporting PDF (then do not choose it — choose what you need). The second way is to click on “3DOTS” in top right corner of Drive PDF Viewer: choosing an application from this list would apparently reset the monopoly of this viewer. (Afterwards, you still need to reset the default by clicking on a PDF from any file browser.) Aug 13, 2020 at 4:32

18 Answers 18


I had the same problem using Firefox on Android - totally maddening - but fixed it.

After installing Google Drive all my links to pdfs would open with Google Drive PDF Viewer.

I fixed it by, in Firefox, going to about:config in the location bar, then finding "browser.download.preferred.application/pdf" and doing a Reset there.

The next time I clicked on a link to a pdf I got the choice to Download, or use Google Drive PDF Viewer.

Shouldn't it be there in Chrome, under the hood somewhere ?

Btw, that "browser.download.preferred.application/pdf" in Firefox only seems to show up after a choice has been made, in this case, forced by the install of Google Drive. Seems redolent of the old browsers wars.


Try clearing the defaults for the Google PDF Viewer app. You can do this on Android 4.x - 5.x by doing the following:

  1. Go to Settings -> Apps -> All.
  2. Scroll down to Google PDF Viewer app and tap on it.
  3. Scroll down to the Launch by default section and tap the "Clear Defaults" button.

Next time you try to open a PDF, a pop-up should present you with options of all the installed apps that handle PDF viewing.

  • 6
    For me, there's no separate PDF viewer app, and clearing defaults for the Drive doesn't help.
    – wizzard0
    May 3, 2016 at 10:04
  • Disabling the Drive app makes it "cant open file" even that i have adobe pdf and fbreader installed
    – wizzard0
    May 3, 2016 at 10:22

I just had this problem on Android 7.0 Nougat. I on a pdf/drop box link I accidentally clicked set Drive PDF Viewer as default.

Similar to others.. To fix this in Nougat.

You must go to Settings->Apps->All->Drive-Open by default (little bit tricky)

"Clear Defaults" might be disabled, however the first entry "Open supported links". Will be set to some value, set it to something other than "Open in this app". I set it as "Ask every time".

Hope this helps.

  • Boom! this is the only one that worked for me on Samsung S7. I didn't have any separate PDF viewer app, just Drive.
    – AutoBaker
    Jul 28, 2020 at 14:44

I went to Settings > Apps and Notifications > See all apps > Drive > Open by default > Clear default. This worked for me. Now I'm once again prompted on which app I want to use in opening PDFs.

I'm using a Google Pixel 2


I believe you will have to clear the defaults for Google Drive. Have you installed the PDF viewer from the play store? If you have you should clear its defaults for sure.

  1. Go to settings
  2. Then Default Applications
  3. Then click on the Google Drive app and the Google Drive PDF Viewer app clear button to the right of the names

This video may be of use to follow along.

If you couldn't find the default applications settings it may be because you are on a different version of android if that's the case you may also be able to find under just "Applications" in the settings menu

  • Sorry for posting this on the Web apps, didn't know there was an Android Enthusiasts. Edited the question for clarification.
    – K. Maglabe
    Feb 7, 2016 at 3:51

You can also just uninstall the update of Google drive from application settings.

  • 1
    Not really. It would be nice if one could revert updates on downloaded apps from Application Manager, but our option is to uninstall completely on non-system apps. Mar 24, 2016 at 7:37
  • 1
    @AaronGillion, for an S5, Google Drive is a system app. It's a part of the OEM default GApps package. Mar 24, 2016 at 17:17

Install Firefox and download a PDF file, I'll ask you to choose a default app to open it, after that all PDFs will open on the app you select


This is what worked for me. None of the other well meant suggestions worked. https://productforums.google.com/forum/m/#!topic/chrome/u8xuBHFzHuo

In my case these instructions meant that I reverted to the older version of chrome that came with my tablet. When I clicked on a PDF file within that old version of chrome and was asked for my choice of viewer, I emphatically chose something non-Google, to be used every time. I was able to view the PDF file within my viewer of choice and got a PDF file in my download folder.

The step that I have to add to those instructions is that after following them I tried updating chrome to the latest version. The new choice of PDF viewer is still in place. So long as I never return to the Google viewer I should be able to change my default viewer again.

  • 1
    Please include all steps rather than just linking
    – KCD
    Apr 3, 2017 at 16:59

Drive pdf viewer cannot be seen in apps > go >allapps> drive> afte doing all necessary clear defaults and set open links to ask all time

Disable drive and restart phone When you start all defaults will be gone and re enable drive


Go to Settings --> Apps

Select the app which uses Drive pdf viewer for PDFs by default. For example: ES File Explorer

Go to storage then tap on clear data. This has worked for me.


Go to Settings→Apps→ Drive→Permissions→Storage

Grant storage permission for Google drive.


I solved my issue of not opening pdf.


Android 7.0 on Asus tablet.

I tried a number of options previously used but none worked on getting chrome to use the default pdf viewer previously set on the device (in my case, Foxit ...highly recommended for any small screen because it offers "word reflow")

I finally tried enough guesses and experiments that I think I got it.

  • Open the "default" android file manager named "File Manager" (which I had never used before)
  • Find a previously downloaded PDF file on your device and click to open it.
  • Choose your default reader in "File Manager"
  • Remember to tap "Always" before clicking the desired PDF reader icon
  • Subsequently, Chrome will open PDF files in your default PDF reader

Note, other File Managers such as ESFileExplorer offer the option to set "open with" but, while the ES setting worked for opening pdf files with most other apps, it did not work when Chrome opened a PDF file.

To test this, I went into;


and following that downloaded a file using chrome and observed that chrome had elected to use it's default PDF viewer after clearing the foxit default/

Then, opened file manager again, completed the process again and it worked to set Foxit as the default PDF app as far a chrome was concerned.

Hope that this information is helpful to others as frustrated as this made it here.


For me, Google Drive is already not set as default for anything, yet the pdfs were being opened in Google Drive - and I have uninstalled the Google PDF Viewer. What worked - both on Marshmallow and on Oreo - is the following:

  1. Download some pdf file.
  2. "Try" to re-download it again - wait for the prompt that this file is already downloaded.
  3. Tap the file link in the prompt that appears, and choose the default app.

I've had this problem for a few months, on Android 10 (Pixel 3a XL), and solved the problem today. In my case I have the Kindle app which can open PDFs, but the OS keeps trying to open PDFs with "Drive PDF Viewer" which doesn't exist! It had been preinstalled, but I guess an OTA update must have deleted that app without telling the OS to redirect to Kindle. Try this:

  1. play store
  2. search for PDF Google
  3. find "Google PDF Viewer" and install

Now open your PDF file, it will open with this newly installed app. Next, I uninstalled this app, and the OS did ask me for a new default app with which to open PDFs. I chose Kindle. It seems to work fine now.


I use a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the handset is not the issue nor is Android. It was working fine.

Then it stopped and for every PDF downloaded through Google Chrome app. It displayed the whole PDF in Drive but after storing it just didn't open in any other PDF viewer, said: "cannot be displayed, unrecognized format".

Solution: Uninstall all updates to the Google apps and things go back to normal.


Remove Google Drive then install Google PDF Viewer from Google Play Store. This then gives a choice of PDF readers after a phone reboot. Chose Google PDF Viewer as the default and all is now perfect.


This worked for me.

Go Settings -> Application Manager(Applications) -> Tap Google Drive. Click Disable.

Now download a PDF. While opening that file, you will get an option to pick your default PDF Viewer. Choose Adobe and tap on "Always open with".

Now go back to the Application Manager and re-enable Google Drive.

  • 1
    I tried this and as soon as I re-enabled Drive, the chrome viewer returned.
    – AutoBaker
    Jul 28, 2020 at 14:38

I too was struck with this issue. Google drive hijacks the downloads, and then Adobe wants 9.99 per month ransom to get them out of there.

Uninstalling any Google Drive updates and then disabling it will also solve the problem...and without having to give up other advantages of the chrome browser.

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