When you click on a PDF or DOC link your Browser will either:
A) Download the PDF or DOC (with or without prompting a Save-As).
B) Open the PDF or DOC in the same window/tab via its integrated Adobe Reader or Microsoft Word viewer.
Most visitors will primarily want to read the document in the current window, preferably via a 1-click on the supplied link, without having to download it (and then opening that file in Adobe or MS Office).
If your Browser opens or downloads the file depends on 2 factors:
- The “Content-type” response Header generated and sent by the server.
- The detected file format – which is deduced from the file name extension and through inspecting the data stream.
And also possibly some Browser and OS settings.
To force inline viewing of PDF files, edit the website’s HTTP and HTTPS VirtualHost files, and inside the
VirtualHost block add in configuration:
<LocationMatch "\.(?i:pdf)$"> ForceType application/pdf Header set Content-Disposition inline </LocationMatch>
As a counter-example, to rather force downloads as opposed to inline viewing/opening them, use configuration:
<LocationMatch "\.(?i:pdf)$"> ForceType application/octet-stream Header set Content-Disposition attachment </LocationMatch>
Save file(s). Restart Apache for changes to take effect.
You will need to clear your Browser’s cache (files, cookies, and history – yes, everything) and close it, every time you test this. Otherwise, you’ll keep getting the previous behavior. If the old result persists because the Browser’s PDF or Office Word plugin is caching the data itself, try renaming the file.
Normally, Apache and WAMP servers (such as WampDeveloper Pro) have a MIME-type-to-file-extension association file (Config\Apache\mime.types) that sets the correct “Content-type” Header for PDF and DOC files. But sometimes, depending on the website’s configuration and where and how the PDF files are located and/or generated, the above Header configuration is required.
It is also very important to use “LocationMatch” instead of “FilesMatch” because:
- PDF documents can be generated by (or transferred via) PHP – and these outputs (files) will not be detectable through the use of Apache’s
- Apache applies and merges Directory, Files, and Location sections in a specific order with the
Locationsections taking precedence over the
Filessections – and this can cause issues.
Note: Apache’s “
Header” directive requires mod_headers, which is usually loaded by WAMP, otherwise…
<IfModule !mod_headers.c> LoadModule headers_module modules/mod_headers.so </IfModule>
Transferring Document Files Through PHP
If you are transferring the document files through PHP, chances are the unwanted behavior is happening due to this code…
header('Content-Type: application/octet-stream'); header('Content-Length: ' . filesize($fullpath)); header('Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="' . $file . '"'); readfile($fullpath);
In this case, you can either search your code-base for some partials of the above strings, and comment out or update the lines with the proper
Content-Disposition values, or use the provided Apache header configuration to post-process and replace the PHP generated headers.