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Making Acrobat default changed some files to "DOWNLOADING file"


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#1 JHarts

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:25 PM

I am on a Dell Inspiron running Win7. I recently moved my Acrobat Pro to this laptop and I wanted to use Acrobat as the default pdf printer and reader. The laptop came with MS XPS Document Writer and XPS Viewer as defaults.

To start, I right-clicked the file and selected "open with" and chose Adobe. I checked the "always use the selected program" option. The Adobe Reader window opened and I got this error message:

Adobe Reader could not open ***.pdf.downloading because it is either not a supported file type or because the file has been damaged (for example it was sent as an email attachment and wasn't correctly decoded).

Note the file name now has both a .pdf extension and a .downloading extension. When I look in My Documents, File Type for about 70% of more than 27,000 files now says DOWNLOADING file and the files all have this extra extension. It seems to have impacted pdf files and doc files. None of them will open. I tried to open one of the doc files with WordPad and it just brings up a blank page.

Now when I right-click and choose "Open with," I only get three options - Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat or WordPad. I've tried to find the application for XPS in Program Files to see if opening with that and changing the default back to that would help but I can't find the application anywhere.

I really hope someone can help me out with this. I use CrashPlan for back up and tried restoring one of the affected folders but it didn't help. They show up as the same "DOWNLOADING file" type.

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#2 Nanobyte

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 02:30 PM

When you say you moved Acrobat Pro I assume you mean you did a normal install on the laptop. If you remove the .downloading extension (any.pdf.downloading to any.pdf), can you open the file? Do you have any downloading progs that use the .downloading extension for partly downloaded files? If so, perhaps there is a conflict.

#3 JHarts

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 09:32 PM

Yep, I installed Acrobat on this laptop.

I tried removing the pdf extension...no joy.

I don't know whether I have any downloading programs --- I don't think so but I've never really given any thought to how downloads happen and if there's a program on my computer that makes that happen. I always thought whatever made something download was a part of the browser.

So, I'm just not sure what to do. I back up to CrashPlan and I'm not even sure if they read these as new files and overwrote what would have been my recovery. Guess I should have been on the hook to them when I first noticed what happened. Oh crap.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someone is going to see this and be able to wave a magic wand and fix me!

#4 Nanobyte

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 10:21 PM

I assume you meant you removed the .downloading extension not the .pdf extension; your wording is ambiguous. Are the files that you can't open the sort of size you expect?

If you look at files while they are downloading from the Internet, there are usually two parts. One has the final filename with a size of 0. The other has the filename with an additional extension (Firefox normally adds .part for example) and this is the one that is actually increasing in size. When downloading is complete, the .part file disappears and the final file is the correct size.

There are many download managers that use similar file naming. ".downloading" could be the extension used by one of those. You seem to think you don't have any of those other than your browser. I wonder if it has something to do with the application settings for your browser (eg Firefox tools/options/applications).

It could also be another application is using similar file extensions to Acrobat. Double check in Folder Options/File types to see what the default is for pdf or similar. If there is an Advanced tab for the entry, click it and see what program is listed to open the file type (click Open then Edit, read the entry then Cancel your way out).

I have not used CrashPlan. If you can stop further backups, try to retrieve the originals. As I have mentioned a few times in the forum, any quick backup system is not a good idea. You can't usually revert to earlier versions if you've screwed up. Edit: since the files now have new names (extensions), the old files on your backup will not be overwritten.

Edited by Nanobyte, 11 January 2013 - 10:36 PM.


#5 JHarts

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 12:01 AM

I assume you meant you removed the .downloading extension not the .pdf extension; your wording is ambiguous.

Ah...interesting point. I was just eliminating the ".pdf" that I could see in the name of the file. I changed the view so I could see the complete file name, including extension, took away the ".downloading" part, which left "*.pdf" and as soon as I did that, the file changed to an Acrobat icon instead of the previous icon that I'm not familiar with. My excitement was brief - the application launches but the file doesn't open, I get the same error message.

Are the files that you can't open the sort of size you expect?


YES! That seems somewhat promising!

If you look at files while they are downloading from the Internet, there are usually two parts. One has the final filename with a size of 0. The other has the filename with an additional extension (Firefox normally adds .part for example) and this is the one that is actually increasing in size. When downloading is complete, the .part file disappears and the final file is the correct size.

There are many download managers that use similar file naming. ".downloading" could be the extension used by one of those. You seem to think you don't have any of those other than your browser. I wonder if it has something to do with the application settings for your browser (eg Firefox tools/options/applications).

It could also be another application is using similar file extensions to Acrobat. Double check in Folder Options/File types to see what the default is for pdf or similar.

It says "Adobe Acrobat" for "Content Type" and "Use Adobe Acrobat (In Firefox)" for "Action". There's a drop-down that gives me an option to use Acrobat 9.5 or Other and then browse. Or I can set it to ask me each time. I was tempted to change it to use 9.5 but thought it would be a good idea to wait for your opinion on that :-)

If there is an Advanced tab for the entry, click it and see what program is listed to open the file type (click Open then Edit, read the entry then Cancel your way out). No Advanced tab.

I have not used CrashPlan. If you can stop further backups, try to retrieve the originals. As I have mentioned a few times in the forum, any quick backup system is not a good idea. You can't usually revert to earlier versions if you've screwed up. Edit: since the files now have new names (extensions), the old files on your backup will not be overwritten. I actually went with CrashPlan after reading some positives about it on this site. As far as back ups go, I like it a lot better than others I've used (I especially like that I can restore just one folder out of hundreds) and their support team is responsive (at least on the one stupid question I had to ask. You're right about the extensions keeping the original files from being overwritten. That is making me feel a little better.

So....I'm at that place where I'm afraid to try anything for fear I'll make things worse. Having said that, it is bothering me that I am not 100% certain how I got myself into this fine mess. I thought I might try to recreate the disaster. One file I recognized as a recipe I downloaded from good old Martha Stewart. I picked it since it is one of the few files I could live without and one that I thought I may have downloaded (my work files and household finance files ....I guess I did download a lot of those with Pando when I moved them from one laptop to this one). Anyways, I went to Martha, found the recipe --- she doesn't download, per se. She has a print button. So I printed and selected Microsoft XPS Document Writer, giving it a file name with a 2 added. Once it was on my hard-drive, the brain cells kicked in. I know what I did. I right clicked an XPS file, selected Open With and because XPS is a completely different file type, I went browsing for Adobe. Several levels down, I found the application and clicked on it. There is where the damage was done. The root of my stupidity is that I always (mistakenly) assumed that XPS was just another name for pdf.

Does this additional information help? Any other ideas?


Here's a P.S. I just looked at some of my important files. Interestingly, for some that I looked at there is both a .pdf file and a .downloading file. The .pdf file opens just fine. These are files that I know came over to this machine via Pando. I'm trying to look at the bright side with this --- if I have a ton of corrupted stuff, at least it is limited to things that I have printed from the internet in the last three months. It still is a ton of files, but probably a thousand or so rather than 27,000. Of course, for all the files that have both an uncorrupted .pdf and an accompanying .downloading file, my hard drive is being gobbled.

Oh DUH! Pando is a downloader. So is Dropbox, right?

#6 Nanobyte

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 11:00 AM

"It says "Adobe Acrobat" for "Content Type" and "Use Adobe Acrobat (In Firefox)" for "Action"".
I asked two questions. The first was the options in Firefox which you noted above. You did not answer specifically about Folder Options/File Types in Windows itself (reachable in several ways including Control Panel). I suggested you check that to see which app is set. Given that the Adobe icon appears when you remove the .downloading extension to leave only .pdf, it suggests that Acrobat is the default. Check it anyway.

Yes, Pando uses .downloading for the partly downloaded files. If you used that to transfer the files and they did not fully download (hence the .downloading extension), the files are not complete.

As I mentioned, if you use Firefox then the *.pdf would show 0kB and the *.pdf.part would slowly increase as it downloaded. The *.pdf would only be usable when downloading was complete. Try to open it before then and you get nothing. Whether Pando transfers parts of the file to the *.pdf during downloading, I don't know. You may have most but not all of the affected pdf files so they won't open.

Pando and Dropbox are file sharing services. The files are actually stored on Pando's servers. Perhaps the originals are still there? Obviously if you are downloading content to your location or somewhere else, they are acting as downloaders during that time. The .downloading extension shows download is incomplete. I would have thought it would give a warning message if you stopped the process before complete.

I don't know if you can open pdfs with XPS Document Writer.

#7 JHarts

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 04:52 PM

Acrobat is the default for Windows.

I did an extensive check of the files that were transferred using Pando and they all appear to be complete, even though there is a .downloading file for every file that is a pdf. Go figure.

Just an FYI - Pando keeps the files on their server for a short amount of time and then they are gone and they do give a warning if the download is not successful. No matter, since it's not the files that I transferred with Pando that seem to be corrupted beyond belief, it's the files that were impacted by my doing this...

"I right clicked an XPS file, selected Open With and because XPS (little did I know) is a completely different file type, I went browsing for Adobe. Several levels down, I found the application and clicked on it. There is where the damage was done. The root of my stupidity is that I always (mistakenly) assumed that XPS was just another name for pdf."


If there's a way to undo that action, maybe there's hope. Is there? I would like to think that if [a] open with [b] acrobat [c] corruption, I might have a chance of undoing the mess I created by doing [a] open with [b] XPS [c] fixed. Without being able to figure out where the XPS application is, though, I can't even try it. Do you know of any way I can figure out where XPS is?

The answer to "I don't know if you can open pdfs with XPS Document Writer" is no. Obviously, if I had know that earlier in the week, we wouldn't be having this conversation since it was my doing the "open with" on an XPS file and apparently trying to force it open with Acrobat that created the problem.

#8 JHarts

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 05:42 PM

I found where the application resides. I googled XPS Viewer Win 7 path and came across a forum that mentioned the name of the file - xpsrchvw.exe - ran a search without the extension and found the path to the application. I right-clicked one of the affected files, did an "open with" and went to the application. It didn't work. I tried it a couple different ways...taking the .downloading extension off, taking the .pdf off, taking both off, adding .xps to the end. Big old fails with everything I tried.

Any more ideas?

#9 Nanobyte

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 11:37 PM

If you try "Open With" it will either work or not and if not give you the type of message in your first post re Adobe Reader. It will not corrupt the file. I don't think there is the slightest possibility that caused .downloading to be added to the filename. It is most likely that whatever you used to download the files is the root cause.

I don't know why you would choose Acrobat as the default for downloading pdfs. Adobe Reader is fine - you are only downloading the file. I wonder if Acrobat is unsuitable for being the downloading application and that is the cause of the issue. I (and most others) download pdfs with Adobe Reader in their browsers all the time. I've never tried with Acrobat. I no longer have on my PC because I don't use it anymore and it has a mind-boggling number of files that cause scans to take forever. I currently have Adobe Acrobat Document as "Alway Ask" and application/pdf as "Save File".

#10 JHarts

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 12:59 PM

At this point, I've purchased a new computer and am hoping that I will be able to put my files that are backed up on CrashPlan on the new computer.

Thanks for all your help with this :-)

#11 JHarts

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:18 PM

Looks like I'm at the end of the road so I thought I'd give a wrap-up:

I got some additional help from sevenforums, dell community and Microsoft forums. Everyone had lots of ideas to try and nothing worked. I opened a ticket at Microsoft and threw money at the problem and even that didn't help. CrashPlan still hadn't contacted me - which is not unexpected since that's the level of support for my not-too-expensive backup service. My new laptop arrived and I thought it would be a good idea to try restoring from CrashPlan on my new laptop. I ran into some problems and got in touch with CrashPlan again and they had someone on the phone with me in short order. Good news: CrashPlan was able to select a back-up date prior to the date I corrupted the files and by doing a restore on the new computer, everything go moved over faster than ever. Bad news: I still have some corrupted files. Not as many, don't know why, doesn't look like it is going to get resolved. I'm moving the corrupted files to a flash drive. If I ever figure it out, great. If not --- it won't be the first time I've lost data. Hopefully it will be the last.

Nanobyte - thanks so much for your time on this. I'm always grateful that people like you are willing to share their knowledge.




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