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I have a PDF with preserved links, but when I upload it anywhere (free PDF sharers, Dropbox, etc), the links get broken (e.g. I can no longer click said links).

I need a solution to host PDFs with URLs preserved. I know e-books do this all the time, but I can't figure it out.

Do I need to host PDFs on my own VPS or is there something pre-made for this kind of thing?

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Regarding Dropbox, I confirm their web-based PDF viewer does not show links correctly:

  • Internal links do not "jump" to their destination
  • However, external links work

To share a PDF on the web (with working internal links) you can use Scribd.

If you want to see a quick demo, my MSc thesis is full of links, both internal and external. :) You can try e.g. page 69 or page 89.

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  • I forgot about this post and hadn't looked at it. But I tried with your suggestion, it didn't work out as I wanted it to. I run imagus / EZ link preview to open up websites as a plugin under chrome. I tried running your links in the PDF but they didn't open, it just recognized that it was in a fact an external link though. i.imgur.com/wRGh9bK.gif <see gif. Example of what was supposed to happen: i.imgur.com/P7otiTM.gif – Vincent Tang Jul 30 '16 at 20:21
  • @AnacondaPython ok then your extension cannot load and display PDF files given their URL... but I don't see how this relates to the question. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 30 '16 at 23:36
  • well the whole purpose of having external viewable links on a PDF was to view links using plugins on chrome / firefox, at least for me – Vincent Tang Jul 31 '16 at 1:34
  • @AnacondaPython again, what does not work is the extensions you are using, not the recommendation I provided which answers your question just fine. – Andrea Lazzarotto Jul 31 '16 at 9:40
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Most hosting services do not make any changes to pdf documents so if you are getting problems then it must be one of:

  • Your document contains internal links that mention the file name & path
  • Your document contains external links to local files that are not present on the remote system, possibly including the full path.

To deal with the first make sure any links internal to the document do not include the document path and name but start with # which is the standard for references within the page - for multi-part documents, i.e. those made out of several files which become chapter names all links should start with ./name_of_part as the link, you also need to make sure that the extension is correct.

For the second part you will need to ensure that the same file(s) that are referenced as also uploaded in the same relative position and use links that start with ./name_of_subdirectory or one or more ../ up one level items to correctly link to the relative position.

If external links, i.e. to the web, are being broken you need to check that they correctly start with http: or https: some OS & authoring tools may produce odd links.

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