Firefox PDF Plugin for Mac OS X

Despite my love for Firefox, I sorely miss the ability to view PDFs in my web browser. One of Safari’s and Internet Explorer’s really big advantages over Mac Firefox is its ability to display PDFs inline – Safari does so using either PDFkit (built-in support) and Internet Explorer does so by the more full-featured Adobe Reader plugin (Safari can be set to use this plugin as well).

Having experienced inline PDF viewing in Safari, gotten used to the Adobe PDF Preview Handler of Outlook 2007 and its more simple first-page-only Preview cousin in Entourage 2008, I was pleased to learn of the Firefox-Mac-PDF plugin for Firefox 3, which allows for the same inline PDF viewing found in Safari.

Without native PDF viewing support in Mac Firefox, PDFs must be downloaded and opened by another program for viewing. While Preview is more than up to this task, you have to wait for it to launch, and sometimes it’s nice to be able to view a PDF directly in the browser. For those time-oriented folks like me, the free Firefox-Mac-PDF plugin does the job nicely. It opens PDFs directly in Firefox, using Apple’s PDFKit.

The plugin works on OS X 10.4+ both on PowerPC and on Intel Macs. To install Firefox PDF Plugin for Mac OS X (v1.1.1 was released on July 2nd, 2009)…

  1. Firefox users may click to install the plugin (.xpi)
…or…   2. Download it from it’s Google Code [project page]( and just open the Firefox Add-ons panel by going to Tools > Add-ons. Drag the downloaded “.xpi” file to the Add-ons. Once you restart Firefox you’ll be able to view all PDFs right within Firefox and will notice a Quartz PDF Plugin in the Firefox Extensions screen.
Firefox-Mac-PDF Plugin Context Menu

Firefox-Mac-PDF Plugin Context Menu

Firefox-Mac-PDF uses OS X’s PDFKit to display PDFs, so it’s not relying on any undocumented features or third-party tools to get the job done. While viewing a PDF, you can control-click (right-click) to access a contextual menu that you’ll find to be nearly identical to that of Safari’s. While you can use the viewing options, including zoom level and viewing modes, you can also use Firefox’s built-in zoom features (in the View menu or keyboard shortcuts) to adjust zoom level and the arrow, page up/down keys, which all work as expected.

Lee Calcote

Lee Calcote
Lee Calcote is an innovative thought leader, passionate about developer platforms and management software for clouds, containers, infrastructure and applications. Advanced and emerging technologies have been a consistent focus through Calcote’s tenure at SolarWinds, Seagate, Cisco and Pelco. An organizer of technology meetups and conferences, a writer, author, speaker, he is active in the tech community.

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