Does your default PDF handler keep changing?

December 16, 2015

A few weeks ago, one of our clients reported that Acrobat Professional was no longer her default PDF viewer. Instead, Adobe Reader DC was. I set Acrobat Professional to be her default viewer but a few days later she reported that Reader was her default again.

What was going on?

It turns out that Adobe Reader DC has a bug in which every time it installs an update to itself, it reasserts itself as the default PDF viewer. 

Here’s Adobe’s acknowledgement: https://forums.adobe.com/thread/1995913

So if you have both Acrobat Pro or Standard and Acrobat Reader on your computer, you’ll be bitten by this eventually. If this applies to you, these are your options:

  1. Simply uninstall Adobe Reader DC and use Acrobat X for all PDF purposes. The only downside is that you won’t be able to preview PDFs in Outlook; you’ll have to double-click PDF attachments to view them.
  2. Make Standard/Pro your default PDF handler, and disable Adobe updates on your computer thereby keeping your PDF viewer preference, but then you won’t get any functionality or security improvements in Adobe products.