How to uninstall Adobe Acrobat Reader and open PDFs in your browser instead

adobe-reader-logoOver the last few months, I’ve been aggressively pursuing ways to remove my dependence on 3rd-party plugins. Every time I read about a massive security exploit in software like Java and various Adobe products I think to myself, “Why am I putting myself at risk by keeping this software installed?”

PDF documents aren’t going anywhere, nor should they. They provide a useful, lightweight method to share non-editable rich text documents, and the format has been around since 1993 meaning almost all of us have interacted with a PDF document at some point in our lives. The fact that PDFs are so ubiquitous means that most computers come with a PDF document viewer pre-installed, with Adobe Acrobat Reader being one of the most popular.

I certainly can’t criticize Adobe’s efforts to combat security issues because I’m frequently prompted to update my Adobe software via their automatic update system. These updates are often retroactive, though: by the time you receive an update, the security flaw has already done its damaged to hundreds and thousands of computers. The definition of a “0-day exploit” means that the attack used a previously unknown vulnerability, and these exploits can be extremely dangerous.

Unfortunately, we simply can’t rely on automatic updates to protect us from all security flaws for a number of reasons. Some users may not have automatic updates enabled, and many users deliberately disable automatic updates on popular applications despite the security risk it presents. Automatic updaters typically run on a schedule, so there could be a delay before your computer even checks for a security update. And let’s not forget the most basic of issues: Some users simply don’t know what to do when presented with an automatic update dialog.

So what’s the solution? In my opinion, the best way to avoid security flaws in Adobe Acrobat Reader is simply to uninstall it. I don’t want you to be PDF viewer-less though, so in this article I’ll show you a simple way to remove Adobe Acrobat Reader without giving up your ability to view PDFs.

Web browsers to the rescue

Web browsers like Chrome and Firefox have strong incentives for removing the dependency on 3rd-party plugins like Adobe Acrobat Reader. Plugins slow down browsers, open security vulnerabilities, and can cause a variety functional issues with the browsers themselves.

Recently, both Chrome and Firefox have released updates that allow you to view PDFs right from within your browser, without using a 3rd-party plugin. Firefox has offered this feature since version 19, and thanks to Javascript, the Mozilla team was able to render PDFs without relying on a plugin.

If you have the latest versions of Chrome or Firefox installed, you should automatically see their built-in PDF viewers when opening a PDF link in your browser. But what about PDFs you have on your local computer? No problem!

How to use modern versions of Chrome and Firefox as the default viewer for PDF documents

Using your browser as a PDF viewer is as simple as changing the default application used to open the .pdf filetype. In Windows, this can be done by following these steps:

Step 1: Locate a PDF document on your computer.

Step 2:Right-click the document and select Properties.

Step 3: Locate the Opens with: setting and click Change.


Step 4: Select your web browser of choice. You may need to navigate to your browser’s executable if it isn’t displayed in the list.

Selecting the default PDF viewer in Windows 8
Selecting the default PDF viewer in Windows 8
Selecting the default PDF viewer in Windows 7

That’s it! Now when you open a PDF document, your web browser will be used instead of Adobe Acrobat. You can now uninstall Acrobat from your computer – you won’t be needing it or its security vulnerabilities anymore.


Adobe kills Flash for mobile in favor of HTML5

That’s it, folks. Adobe Flash Player for mobile devices has officially packed up its bags and walked out the door never to be seen again. Of course, Flash for desktop operating systems will live on (and probably not all that well), but Adobe has decided that Flash on mobile devices just isn’t in the cards. Many critics may think that the sole reason behind this was that Apple didn’t want Flash running on iOS. This was a reason, but not the reason.

Mike Chambers, Principal Product Manager for developer relations for the Flash Platform at Adobe, says that there were multiple reasons why Flash for mobile wasn’t going to work out and why they decided to quit while they were behind:

  •  “One of the leading mobile platforms (Apple’s iOS) was not going to allow the Flash Player in the browser,” which meant that Flash “was not on track to reach anywhere near the ubiquity of the Flash Player on desktops.”
  • HTML5 is taking over. “On mobile devices HTML5 provides a similar level of ubiquity that the Flash Player provides on the desktop. It is the best technology for creating and deploying rich content to the browser across mobile platforms.”
  • Flash was simply less relevant on mobile devices since users used apps more often than the browser. “Users do not look to the web on mobile devices for finding and consuming rich content.”
  • Developing Flash for mobile use is much more challenging than for desktop use. “Developing the Flash Player for mobile browsers has proven to require much more resources than we anticipated.”
  • “Halting development on the Flash Player for mobile devices frees up resources for HTML5 development (tooling, frameworks, browsers).”
Long live HTML5! It’s definitely a sad day for Flash mobile, but I’m excited to see what Adobe has in store as far as HTML5 developments.

Google’s Swiffy Converts SWF Files to HTML5

Amidst of all the recent announcements from Google comes a lesser-known feature that’s available now in Google Labs. It’s a small service called Swiffy, and it will convert SWF (the file format for Flash) files into HTML5 versions for use in most modern browsers like Chrome and Safari.

Google says the process works by first converting the SWF file into a JSON file, then rendering it using HTML, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). The result is a complete HTML5 file with a size that’s just slightly larger than the original SWF file that was converted.

Of course, we’re all probably thinking that Swiffy would make a great tool for developers to use to develop and port content for iOS and other devices without Flash capabilities. Obviously, Swiffy is still in its early stages, so it can’t convert every SWF file under the sun just yet and Google doesn’t know if it’s going to turn Swiffy into an open-source project. Either way, Swiffy is waiting and ready for you to begin your Flash-converting monstrosity right now.

Holiday Gift Ideas: President of Adobe Edition

Getting the right present for a special person can be a real challenge, and finding the perfect gift for President and CEO of Adobe Systems Incorporated Shantanu Narayen is no exception.  This holiday season, let’s give back to Adobe what they have so generously given to us – unnecessary icons all over our desktops.

(In case you’re new to computers, Adobe is notorious for installing icons on your desktop for software like Reader every time you update the software – even if you had previously deleted the shortcut.)

Thanks to Bret Shiers for this image.

How to Install Adobe Reader Without Installing Adobe DLM (Download Manager) Browser Plugin

As a quick follow-up to my previous article about installing Flash player without installing Adobe’s DLM browser plugin, I’ll cover how to avoid installing this unnecessary intermediary software when installing Adobe Reader.

If you didn’t read my previous article, here’s what you need to know:

  • Adobe DLM is a “download manager” plugin that is installed in your browser by default when trying to install some Adobe products such as Flash player and Reader.  This software simply performs the download (just like your browser normally would), and has no real added benefit.
  • These products will run just the same whether you use Adobe DLM to download them or use the standard installer directly.
  • The standard installer is not the default method to install these products, so you’ll want to follow this procedure whenever installing Adobe products to avoid extra software.

Update 10/6/2010

As noted in the comments, Adobe has now changed their website so the Reader installer is even harder to find.  By default, you are now required to download Adobe DLM, then cancel the download, click a secondary link, then remove Adobe DLM.

Not fun, right?  Don’t worry, here’s the solution:

Step 1: Open Adobe’s FTP server in your browser and select your operating system (“win”, “mac”, or “unix”).

Step 2: Select the most recent core version of the software.  In my case, this was “9.x”.

Step 3: Select the newest version listed again.  In my case, this was “9.4.0”.

Step 4: Select your language from the list.  United States English is “en_US”.

Step 5: Download the .exe installer and install Adobe Reader as usual.  That’s it, you’re done!

Removing Adobe DLM

If you’re using Firefox and have installed Adobe products in the past, you can check to see if Adobe DLM was installed by going to Tools –> Add-ons and locating it in the list.  From this menu it can be disabled and/or removed.

How to Install Adobe Flash Player Without Installing Adobe’s DLM (Download Manager) Browser Plugin

Most of us use Adobe Flash, that’s simply a fact of the internet.  YouTube, Hulu, Pandora, and dozens of other sites currently use Flash to provide you with interactive media and applications, and until HTML5 (hopefully) gives us a viable alternative, we’re stuck with it in many ways.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mind Flash.  What I dislike is when Adobe starts forcing me to install an intermediary application, Adobe DLM, to install Flash instead of directly installing the software.  For those of you that have been on the internet for a while and remember “download manager” applications, when was the last time you needed one in the age of high speed internet?

I’m sure Adobe has plenty of reasons for wanting you to download and install two applications instead of just one, but I’m not having it.  And unfortunately for all of us, the default (and only obvious) way to install Flash is to install the Adobe DLM plugin to your browser.  You’ll probably notice this little yellow bar at the top of your browser when you try to install Flash:

Even I am tempted to quickly grant access to Adobe DLM so I can get my Flash fix on.  But you can install Flash without Adobe DLM with just a few steps:

Installing Adobe Flash Player without Adobe DLM

Step 1: Instead of installing Flash from the normal installation page, head to the Flash troubleshooting page.  You can alternatively get to this location from the normal installation page by clicking the link “click here for troubleshooting information” as shown below.

Step 2: On the troubleshooting page, click the link that says “Troubleshoot Flash Player installation”.  I haven’t tested this in other operating systems, but I was presented with a specific Windows link.  Please post in the comments if you’re using another OS and see something different.

Step 3: Skip all the steps presented on this page and instead click the link that says “Download Flash Player with the manual installer”.

Step 4: Select the correct file for the browser you are using.  One file is for Internet Explorer, the other is for all other browsers.

Now just install Flash as usual.  It was a little more work, but now you are only installing the software you wanted to use in the first place.  Hooray!

If you’re using Firefox and have installed Flash in the past, you can check to see if Adobe DLM was installed by going to Tools –> Add-ons and locating it in the list.  From this menu it can be disabled and/or removed.

Important Adobe Update Available, But There’s a Catch – You Might Need to Update Manually

It’s only been a few weeks since I wrote my last article about an update that patched 32 critical security holes in Adobe software, but here I am again.  Since you’re all my internet buddies, I’d like to let you know that Adobe just released a new patch for their software but it might only notify you if you manually check for updates.

Sure, it seems odd to me that they would say things like “This update addresses customer issues and security vulnerabilities” but make you find the update for yourself.  You know, because you’re always opening Adobe Reader, clicking Help, then selecting Check for Updates for fun.

This specific update addresses a few vague issues, but I’d still recommend doing it right away.  For more information, check out Adobe’s Release Notes or read the specific update information below.

Enhancements for security (including a zero-day fix), performance enhancements, bug fixes, improved browser support, and Updater improvements.

Internet high-five goes to Steve Gibson for this tip.

Time To Update! Adobe Flash Player Patch Fixes 32 Security Holes

Do you like websites that utilize Adobe Flash Player technology like Hulu and YouTube?  Do you simultaneously dislike having your computer hacked without your knowledge?  Well, do I have some important information for you!

A patch for Adobe Flash Player was recently released which patches 32 security vulnerabilities in a recent version of the application, version  I’ll allow Adobe to explain it to you:

Critical vulnerabilities have been identified in Adobe Flash Player version and earlier. These vulnerabilities could cause the application to crash and could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.\

And what does “critical” mean, you may ask?

A vulnerability, which, if exploited would allow malicious native-code to execute, potentially without a user being aware.

So if this information has you relatively concerned, I’ll go ahead and give you the information to secure your computer.

Updating Adobe Flash Player

Step 1: First of all, you can check what version of Flash Player you are currently using here.  If you’re using version (or anything earlier than that), you should install the patch.  If you’ve already updated to the release candidate of Flash Player 10.1, Adobe says there appear to be no vulnerabilities with that version.

Step 2: You can download the newest version of Flash Player straight from Adobe.  Simply click the yellow Agree and install now button to start the download.


Besides fixing a bunch of security holes, the newest version of Flash Player has many great new features such as better performance and power management, better video playback (including hardware acceleration), and multi-touch support.  For more information about the security holes in Flash Player version, check out Adobe’s security bulletin.

Image credit: dullhunk

Fix: Adobe AIR Apps Crash After Upgrading to Fedora 12

adobe_airAfter upgrading your system to Fedora 12, you may notice that some of your Adobe AIR applications no longer load properly.  The problem may persist even after you have reinstalled both Adobe AIR and the individual Adobe AIR applications.

An error you may receive when installing the AIR applications is shown below:

Application crashed with an unhandled SIGSEGV

The above problem is caused by an invalid certificate file.  Simply deleting the certificate file as shown below will cause your Adobe AIR applications to begin working again.

Run the following command from terminal to fix the problem:

sudo rm -rf /etc/opt/Adobe/certificates/crypt/

Adobe and NVIDIA Collaborating on GPU Acceleration for Flash

adobe-logoAdobe and NVIDIA announced today that GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) acceleration will be included in future releases of the Adobe Flash Player.  Both Adobe and NVIDIA are part of the Open Screen Project, a collaborative project intended to bring rich internet applications to the desktop by taking advantage of the full capabilities of Adobe Flash.  The number of devices to be support is large and will include:

  • Netbooks
  • Tablets
  • Mobile Phones
  • Other portable media devices

Features of accelerated Flash will consist of:

  • Uncompromising web browsing
  • Full H.264 support
  • Multi-platform support

nvidia-logoThe first GPU to take advantage of the accelerated Flash content will be the NVIDIA Tegra line.  With the size being smaller then a US dime, this “computer-on-a-chip” will include support for:

  • All-day media processing, for 130 hours audio, 30 hours HD video playback
  • HD image processing for advanced digital still camera and HD camcorder functions
  • Optimized hardware support for Web 2.0 applications for a true desktop-class internet experience
  • Display support for 1080p HDMI, WSXGA+ LCD and CRT, and NTSC/PAL TV-Out
  • Direct support for wifi, disk drives, keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals
  • A complete Board Support Package (BSP) to enable fast times to market for Windows Mobile-based designs

More information on the NVIDIA Tegra line can be found here.