U.S. Geological Survey - science for a changing world

Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center -- Louisiana

Picture of USGS employee in a Louisiana swamp.
Addressing Problems Reading USGS Publications in PDF Format – 27 April 2010

We have received reports that people have had trouble opening some of the larger (over one megabyte) pdf files on our website. The problem occurs when someone tries to open one of our pdf publications within the web browser instead of a separate Adobe Reader window. There is apparently some sort of conflict between the way our pdf files were generated, the default behavior of Adobe Reader, and the way we deliver these files to end users that causes the download process to stop prematurely, often causing the browser window to hang. We have confirmed this behavior with both Internet Explorer and Firefox, and since it is an issue with Adobe Reader and our pdf files, it is safe to assume it is true for other browsers as well.

Fortunately, this issue is very easy to fix, and can be completed in only a few moments. The solution is to modify the default behavior of Adobe Reader so that any pdf files that you try to open from your web browser will be forced to open in a separate Adobe Reader window, rather than within the web browser.

Modifying the Default Behavior of Adobe Reader

  1. Open Adobe Reader
  2. Click on "Edit"
  3. Click on "Preferences"
  4. In the Preferences window, click on "Internet" in the list of categories
  5. Under "Web Browser Options" uncheck "Display PDF in browser"
  6. Click OK button.

You may be asked to reboot your system for the change to take effect.

After the Changes are Completed

If you are using Internet Explorer:

When you click on a PDF file link, a second browser window (or tab) will open, but it will remain empty until the whole file is downloaded. This could take some time, depending on how large the PDF document is, but there are indicators (spinning donut in the tab at the top of the window, and text stating that a file is downloading in the status bar at the bottom of the window) that show the window is not hung. Once the download is completed, this browser window (or tab) will disappear and it will be replaced by an Adobe Reader window with the complete file opened in it.

If you are using Firefox:

When you click on a PDF file link, you will be offered the option of either opening with Adobe Reader, or saving the file on your system. After you select which method you prefer, a Downloads window will open showing you the download progress. When the download is complete, if you chose to open with Adobe Reader, the file will open in a separate Adobe Reader window. If you chose to save the file, you will have the PDF file on your system in the Firefox download folder. You can then open it like any other pdf file on your system.

If you are still having difficulty with these files after trying this fix, contact the webmaster and we will work with you to get the problem resolved as quickly as possible.

USGS Home Water Resources Biology Geography Geology Geospatial Program

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

FirstGov button U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http://la.water.usgs.gov/
Page Contact Information: Webmaster