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Convince Safari to Download PDFs

A quick tip: how to download the file instead of viewing it By Tiffany LeFarge
Software upgrades aren't always an improvement. Case in point: While I like the Safari web browser just fine, Apple changed some of its default settings to a way that I don't always prefer.

It used to be that Safari would ask what to do with an Adobe Acrobat PDF: did I want to download this or view it in the browser? Somewhere along the line, the browser's behavior changed, and it automatically displays the document within Safari.

Most of the time, that's what I want -- but not always. For users with slow Internet connections, or those who expect to want to access the document offline (such as, say, a conference schedule), a download is a better choice.

The easiest way to work around this is to Control-Click on the link, and choose "Download linked file" from the menu options; Apple provides a short instruction list on the topic here.

That's fine for the occasional need, but if you need more, you might be interested in changing the default behavior over the long run so that Safari will download PDFs without asking. It takes a few easy steps.
  • Quit Safari.
  • Launch Terminal.
  • Type (this is case-sensitive):
    defaults write com.apple.Safari WebKitOmitPDFSupport -bool YES
    It seems as though this is going in the wrong direction, but using the -bool notation, the correct key is YES; you're asking Safari to omit its PDF support.
  • Now, open System Preference, and choose the QuickTime Preferences pane.
  • Click the "Advanced" tab, and then choose "MIME Settings..."
  • Under the "Images" list, make sure "PDF Image" is *not* checked. It probably isn't, but if it were, Safari would treat a PDF as a QuickTime movie.
Close System Preferences, and launch Safari. When you launch a PDF like the US Anti-Discrimination Notice (that's the #2 listing for PDF under Google, after Adobe's own site), it will download the file instead of displaying it.

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