I’ve grown to really like Adobe Reader for PDFs and would like to install it and have it as the default PDF reader on my home Windows computer. Can you help me out? Thanks!
From its invention back in 1993 as part of Adobe Acrobat, the Portable Document Format (PDF) has proven to be a great success. Prior to PDF sharing formatted documents meant that both parties needed to have the same commercial program (typically Microsoft Word) and that it was difficult to create read-only versions to ensure that things wouldn’t be modified. Now, however, if you search for user guides, manuals, books, even comic books, you’ll find that there are millions of PDF documents available. Even governments now use PDF for forms and documents.
Which leads to the observation that it’s pretty important to have a good PDF reader on your computer if you do anything other than just read Web pages. Heck, even Web pages can embed PDFs, actually, so even in that case, it’s important to have a good tool. Modern Web browsers can show PDF docs – including Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge – but I still have a bias towards the free Adobe program PDF Reader (known more properly as Acrobat Reader, as we’ll see). Sounds like that’s what you are using at work too, so let’s get it installed on your home PC too.
To start, right-click on a PDF document to see what programs you have that can understand PDF file format:
You can see that on this particular Windows 10 system I have no independent PDF programs, just two browsers that can handle the file format.
You can choose “Search the Microsoft Store” but I’ll tell you in advance that there are a ton of options and none of them are actually from Adobe:
Instead, let’s go straight to Adobe and get Acrobat Reader for Windows. That’s easily done by going to get.adobe.com, which offers this simple way to identify which version of the program you want to download:
Why it can’t automatically identify operating system and language from your Web browser is unclear to me, but perhaps this is so people can download versions for computers other than the one they’re using currently? In any case, it’s easy enough, specify your operating system, specify your primary language and it’ll offer the latest version:
Pay attention to that middle panel, which switches to default installing Google Chrome as part of the process. I’m a fan of Google Chrome, but I really dislike having additional software installed that isn’t required for the task; I suggest you uncheck that box and if you really want to install Google Chrome, just go to google.com/chrome to grab a copy.
Have your information correctly specified? Click on “Download now”. You’ll shortly see this:
I suggest that as long as you can see it’s from adobe.com that you can safely click or tap “Run” to proceed…
I have my system pretty locked down, so I get this message because I’m installing software not from the Microsoft Store. Ayup, if it were in the Microsoft Store, I would have installed it from there! Instead, here we are:
I am going to choose “Install anyway” since, as I said, it’s from a known and trusted site – adobe.com. If you don’t see this warning, you might want to change your app recommendation settings to tighten up your PC security too.
Now to make Acrobat Reader the default PDf reader on the computer. Reader itself actually encourages that, which makes the process pretty easy:
Tap or click “Yes” and it’ll open up the correct settings window deep in Windows preferences, where you can click “Change” and choose the new program, as shown:
Easy enough. And it’s interesting in the above screen shot that you can see the old Windows style in the left window and the new, fancier and more colorful Windows UI on the right side. Old school, meet new school.
Choose “Adobe Acrobat Reader DC“, Click “OK” to close the window, and now when you right-click on that same PDF file on the Desktop your options are a bit different:
Mission accomplished! Now enjoy all those glorious PDFs!