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by Ray Carlson

Q. I needed to print a form available online as a PDF file. When I tried to open it, a box opened but remained blank. I was using Google Chrome as my browser. I tried Firefox and the form opened. Should I switch to Firefox?

A. Google Chrome and Firefox are competing to see which browser will become the most used browser in the world. Internet Explorer has been number one for several years, but, in the last three years, that browser has dropped by thirty percentage points to about forty percent of users. During that time, Firefox has been number two with about 25 percent. Google Chrome has grown rapidly from 0 to a virtual tie with Firefox. [These percentages are based on reports by StatCounter, a company that compiles Internet usage data for a series of clients.]

With this competition, each browser keeps adding new features and refinements. Recently, Chrome added its own software to read PDF files. They also included an updated version of Adobe's PDF reader with their own reader as the default. Depending on the code on the website, a PDF can be misread by both programs. The easiest solution is to disable these readers by typing "about:plugins" into the address bar where you normally indicate what website to visit. Tap Enter. A list of Chrome Plug-ins will appear. Under each, it will say Disable if that plugin is working and Enable if it is disabled. Go to Chrome PDF Viewer on the list and click on Disable. Next go down the list to Adobe PDF Viewer and disable that plugin too. Now, the PDF form should open with whatever PDF reader is already on your computer. Future updates should resolve this problem.

TopTenReviews compares the browsers and gives Chrome its top ratings because of its speed, its security and the fact that its operation is more intuitive. They view Firefox a close second and Internet Explorer third. I would evaluate Chrome based on the factors mentioned in that review rather than a minor problem that can be resolved.

Published: Courier 2/19/12 - Page 5C