If you build interactive PDFs with features such as videos that play in floating windows, you’ll find that those components don’t play correctly—or at all—when the PDF is viewed in a browser. To view such PDFs correctly, the recipient must use Acrobat Pro or Adobe Reader instead.
Of course, a user can set their own preferences to control this, but the designer who asked me about this has no control over how users open his PDFs; that’s one of the issues we all face with PDFs—we send them out to uncertain destinies.
After numerous dead ends, I found the answer on www.warriorforum.com, a site devoted to internet marketing (thank you, Bing. I would never have guessed). Here’s the direct link to the post: http://bit.ly/1h9cmvx
Jeremy Lebre explains on the forum, “To prevent this, your host must support URL rewriting via ‘htaccess.’” Jeremy provides a recipe to create the .htaccess file, so he deserves the credit for this; I’m just passing it on.
To summarize what I found, you create a plain text file with this content:
Header set Content-disposition attachment
Save the file as htaccess.txt, then put it in the same directory as the PDF on the server, and then (very important), change the name of the text file to .htaccess (add a dot in front, and delete the extension). If you rename it on the Mac, the leading dot will render it invisible unless you have a utility that reveals invisible files. The FTP client I use, Transmit, makes it easy to see hidden files on the server and rename them, so that’s the approach I took.
Try this URL to see how it works: www.claudiamccue.com/extract/extract.pdf
NOTE: This can’t force the user to use Acrobat or Reader (rather than, say, Mac Preview); it only forces a download rather than displaying the PDF in the browser.