On our web site, we have numerous Acrobat PDF forms. When users click on those forms, if they are using Google Chrome, they get this message:

Please wait...

If this message is not eventually replaced by the proper contents of the document, your PDF viewer may not be able to display this type of document.

You can upgrade to the latest version of Acrobat Reader for Windows, Mac, or Linux by visiting http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html.

I know what the problem is. Chrome has a built-in PDF viewer which doesn't support the necessary features of these PDF forms (created, I think, using Adobe LiveCycle). The user can manually download the file, then use Acrobat Reader to open it (thus bypassing Chrome's PDF viewer).

We regularly get contacted by users complaining that our forms won't open. We then have to explain to them that it's caused by Chrome's built-in PDF viewer and that they need to download the file, etc.

Is there a way we can avoid this problem? I'm thinking either:

  1. a way to change the text of the "Please wait" message to explain to the user that they need to save the PDF and open it outside of Chrome; or
  2. a way we can force Chrome to not use its built-in PDF viewer to display our forms.

Just to clarify, I am not asking "how do I as an end user avoid this problem". I know that the end user can disable the PDF viewer, for example. I'm not the end user, so I have no access to their Chrome browser. All I have access to is our web server and the PDF files we're trying to serve up.

  • Remember to mark the correct answer if one of them solves your issue ;)
    – andreszs
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 1:37

4 Answers 4


Basically, you need to force the download of the PDF file.

If you edit the .htaccess file and add this code, all PDF files should be downloaded instead of opened in your site.

<FilesMatch "\.(?i:pdf)$">
  ForceType application/octet-stream
  Header set Content-Disposition attachment

If that's not an option, add a message explaining the user to use "Right click > Save As" in the download link; notice that many sites do this, even sites from HP or Intel, so it's a common practice.

  • 6
    You could also try adding the HTML5 download attribute to the anchor, which is also supported by Chrome.
    – MrWhite
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 16:01

You need to fix your PDF files to not use these inaccessible features. This is endlessly annoying to end users, and in your power to fix. Potentially you could offer two versions of the file, one to download and open only with Acrobat, and one for the rest of the world.

  • 2
    Haven't a clue why this was downvoted. It's the correct answer. People think that the web must conform to Adobe but the opposite is true as evidenced by the demise of Flash and, for that matter, Silverlight. Adobe does not dictate how the web works and using Adobe features not found on the web is a violation of the rules of the web. It is wrong to expect any browser to open such a PDF file such as this. NOTE: Re-reading the question reminds me the questioner is asking for workaround, not how to force browsers to display it but I am going to leave my comment here for the same reason I wrote it.
    – Rob
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 13:34
  • 1
    This answer would be higher quality if it specified which features were inaccessible and offered instructions for fixing the PDFs. As it stands, this answer is more rant and less actionable. Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 20:10

I have this same problem with one specific PDF form made with LiveCycle Designer, while other PDF forms made with the same tool were working. And I've just found the cause and the solution: the troublesome PDF form was made and saved as an "Adobe XML Dynamic form". I've just had to Save as... "Static Adobe PDF Form" and it now is displayed in every modern browser (Firefox 56, Chrome 62, Edge). Firefox does not yet implement filling of PDF forms, but it is displayed with its visual appearance; the other browsers allow filling it, except for the Digital signature box.

Before, all browsers displayed an English message saying something like Please wait.. If this content is not eventually replaced with the actual PDF contents, your viewer may not be able to properly display this PDF content.

Note, however, that if your workflow involves prefilling the form in server side before sending it to the user (for instance, if your website authenticates the user and uses its profile in your database to automatically fill his name, address, email, etc. in the form before sending it to him), you may need to stick to XML Dynamic forms and, therefore, the PDF must be opened with Adobe Reader or a similar application able to deal with XML Dynamic forms.


I fixed this by printing the PDF to another PDF with CutePDF Writer.

Should work with any other standard PDF writer. What this does is just convert the PDF without all the extra functions from the original PDF which was causing compatibility issues, as mentioned by Aaron McMillin in one of the other comments here.

Edit: This is a last resort fix if the above answers do not help and you do not mind striping away functionality from your PDF's. I did not need the functionality and I landed on this page so like whatevz @AlbertoMartinez.

  • 1
    But doing that would remove the PDF forms leaving only a static PDF, so the users could not fill the required data. Note that the problem is not "How to remove the functions that doesn't work in Chrome" but "How to force Chrome to download the file so users can use a program that can manage that functions that we need". Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 12:48
  • @AlbertoMartinez Thanks for the feedback, you are right.
    – Desiron
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 13:16

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