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When viewing a PDF file on GitHub, there seems to be no way to have the browser simply display the file as opposed to downloading it.

None of these links work, and these are the only ones I'm able to get to (or derive from the behaviour of working with source code):

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1 Answer 1

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Github uses content-disposition: attachment for PDFs, which downloads the file automatically on github.com. You can host the file on a static page provided by GitHub which can link to this file and update as you update the PDF. For that, you can see github pages.


  • Create a repo named USERNAME.github.io.
  • In that repo, click Settings then click Automatic Page Generator, then complete the wizard to publish a User Page.
  • Go back to your content repo and click Settings then click Automatic Page Generator, then complete the wizard to publish a Project Page. (Logically, the project page's files would go in a special directory but GitHub puts them in a gh-pages branch. Don't merge that branch to/from master.)
  • Sync the gh-pages branch to your computer then copy in your PDFs:

    git checkout gh-pages
    git checkout master -- 'docs/*.pdf'

  • Commit the changes and push them to GitHub.
  • Now go back to the repo on GitHub and use the Automatic Page Generator to edit the Project Page, adding links to these PDFs of the form:


  • Republish the Project Page.
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Using Pages is actually a pretty clever work-around! If there is no other way around this by noon tomorrow, this will be good enough. :) –  Sean Allred Aug 17 '13 at 4:53
Have you ever found a way to do this without using Github Pages? The problem we're facing is the fact that Github Pages are necessarily public, while the PDFs we wish to include are private. –  Joost Feb 25 at 12:41
@Joost no, I haven't tried to make PDFs private. Your best bet with github would be to create a private repo that is a github pages repo and then make the URL hard to discover (which is not really private, just harder to find). –  Muhammad Usman Mar 4 at 18:57

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