OS X: How to disable Acrobat as the Safari PDF viewer

Soon after switching to Mac I discovered that one of the myths that I lived with for many years, i.e. that Adobe Acrobat Reader is mandatory in order to view PDF documents, is no longer true.

As in most cases, Apple did a great job integrating its own PDF viewer in the system application Preview.app; it is lighter, looks significantly better and integration with the rest of the system is great.

I do not suggest to completely remove Acrobat from your system, you might encounter documents requiring special features not yet implemented in Preview, so leave it to dust in a corner and configure  Safari to not use it as default.

For this you have to prevent Safari to load the Acrobat plugins. These are special OS X components, stored as special folders in /Library/Internet Plug-ins.

There might be many ways of doing this, one of them being to move them to a separate folder.

cd /Library/Internet\ Plug-ins
sudo mkdir Disabled
sudo mv AdobePDFViewer*.plugin Disabled

On OS X 10.7 Lion, there are two files moved, AdobePDFViewer.plugin and AdobePDFViewerNPAPI.plugin.

After moving these files, restart Safari and when opening PDF documents the internal Preview.app will be used.


About Liviu Ionescu (ilg)
Hi! My name is Liviu Ionescu (ilg, ilegeul or eunete for colleagues and friends) and I’m a senior IT engineer. Or should I say a real programmer?

12 Responses to OS X: How to disable Acrobat as the Safari PDF viewer

  1. lix says:

    Just what I was looking for… thanks! Side note: on my machine a “Disabled Plug-Ins” directory was already created, but I have no idea when and by whom (although the ownership is mine).

  2. Marco says:

    Thanks a lot for the info.

    As a minor note, in order to make your code snippet work, you need to add a backslash before the blank in “Internet Plugi-ins”. That is:

    cd Internet Plug-Ins/


  3. steve says:

    Acrobat was too slow in Safari. Thanks for the info – did the job.

  4. Heather says:

    Thanks for this, the Acrobat plug-in was driving me crazy!

  5. Sigrid says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Acrobat reader has been bugging me for a very long time. Hard to scroll, hard to save, hard to print, always coming up with the text too large. Then, today the AdobePDFViewerNPAPI.plugin was hogging all my CPU cycles even after I closed the page that invoked it. Grrr!

    After I removed the plug-ins, the pdf that I had gone to previously came up looking *so* much better! What a relief!

    BTW, for Mac users, do a search for AdobePDF files. They may be in more than one place. I had to remove the NPAPI one mentioned above from my top-level library as well as my user library, and the regular AdobePDFViewer from both. (I just dragged them to the desktop initially to see what effect it would have, and that was enough.)

    Thank you again. Great info!

  6. Montreal says:

    Thanks very much for the tip. :)

  7. Jakub Ulak says:

    Thank you so much! Works great. Only problem is this does not work if a website requires adobe to view a PDF when a password is required – the page comes up blank and the password form does not come up. Any solutions to this?

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