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PDF file type association broken after upgrading from Reader 2017 to Reader 2020 on Windows 10

New Here ,
May 26, 2021 May 26, 2021

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The file type association for .pdf stops working after upgrading from Adobe Reader 2017 (Classic Track) to Reader 2020 (Classic Track). Issue occurs if file association is configured by DISM or user. Looking for solution appropriate for an enterprise environment.

 

Double-clicking a PDF file displays Windows prompt "How do you want to open this file?". The HKCR registry key still contains an entry for the ProgID, AcroExch.Document.2017. Is the Reader 2020 installer expected to remove the HKCR\AcroExch.Document.2017 registry key?

 

PDF prompt.png

 

This does not occur on computers which installed Adobe Reader 2015 (Classic Track) and were subsequently upgraded to Reader 2017 and Reader 2020. They are configured with ProgID, AcroExch.Document.2015. The Reader 2017 installer removed the HKCR\AcroExch.Document.2015 registry key.

 

<Association Identifier=".pdf" ProgID="AcroExch.Document.2015" ApplicationName="Adobe Acrobat Reader DC" />

 

Steps to reproduce:

1. Install Windows 10 Enterprise.

2. Install Adobe Reader 2017 (Classic Track) using bootstrapper installation (setup.exe).

3. Set default PDF program. This can also be applied using DISM during operating system deployment.

<Association Identifier=".pdf" ProgId="AcroExch.Document.2017" ApplicationName="Adobe Acrobat Reader 2017" />

4. Install Adobe Reader 2020 (Classic Track) using bootstrapper installation (setup.exe).

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Download and install, Windows

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New Here ,
Aug 04, 2021 Aug 04, 2021

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Hi -

 

Even if you don't use DISM/GPO to set the defaults for the user and they have set their default from MS Edge to Acrobat Reader 2017 for viewing PDFs - when you install Acrobat Reader 2020 Classic (incl. latest patch level), the PDF file type association appears to break and they get the prompt in the screenshot.

 

As you say - the only solution at this time appears to be to delete the "HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AcroExch.Document.2017" registry key after the install is completed, Windows 10 then appears to automatically associate PDFs with Acrobat Reader 2020, if they had set it to 2017 previously. Although this method appears to work, I've personally never taken to changing HKCR entries by script/automation previously due to complexity/risks etc.

 

However, it would not be ideal to roll out the upgrade to an entire enterprise of users and them all to have the prompt shared in the screenshot, that would cause a helpdesk storm no doubt, and some organisations don't use GPOs to enfore file type associations on their users for certain reasons anyway.

 

Just wondered if there was any further update on this situation, or whether this is now by design or a bug in the 2020 installer basically..

 

Thanks!

 

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New Here ,
Aug 05, 2021 Aug 05, 2021

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Additionally, even after removing the "HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AcroExch.Document.2017" ProgID key, the user's own UserChoice key still references their original PDF file type association setting.

 

So, I presume Windows 10 probably fails to match the UserChoice ProgID and then defaults to following the system file association set by the installer - i.e. the "HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.pdf" key- which refers to ProgID "AcroExch.Document.2020"at this point.

 

My understanding is that the UserChoice key is set only by the user and includes use of a hash to control it's security - there is a 3rd party tool which can be used to set these, but we aren't in a position to use such tools.

 

UserChoice.png

 

 

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