When attempting to open pdfs in Safari 5.1.7 on OS X 10.6.8 recently, all I saw was a black screen. Housekeeping failed but using Chrome circumvented the problem. So I carried on until I had a breather to delve further.
Recently, an Adobe update (10.1.3) presented itself and I thought hmmm, perhaps that might fix it. After clicking through the update installation, still no joy.
So I googled and it seems that Safari and Adobe aren’t playing nice with each other! Not the first time, and I fact tried makmacapplefan’s solution from 2009, which worked.
All I had to do was delete the Adobe plugins I found in Macintosh HD > Library > Internet Plug-Ins: AdobePDFViewer.plugin and AdobePDFViewerNPAPI.plugin.
So an earlier Adobe update must have messed things up. Problem solved, hoorah! My work efficiency is highest in Safari with all my shortcuts and customisation, so using Chrome was slowing me down.
Many solutions are presented in that Apple Support Communities thread [Safari - PDF Black Screen... Can't view embeded PDFs - help.] and if what I did wasn’t enough to solve your problem of black screens when viewing pdfs, check the other (more complicated) suggestions.
Why keep Adobe Reader? Well, it overcomes some problems I sometimes encounter when viewing pdfs in Preview. So that it won’t trip me up somehow, for good measure, I unchecked the box in Adobe Reader > Preferences > Internet > Display in Read Mode by default.
In the background, I had tried opening a pdf in Firefox 5 (yes, I know, I just updated to 12). I switched back to Firefox and found it complaining about AdobePDFViewerNPAPI.plugin. You see, Firefox identifies culprit Adobe plugins on its blocklist which Mozilla maintains and will prompt you to click to disable the offender immediately. How smart is that?
So Safari isn’t smart enough to warn us, and I feel Adobe was obnoxious by sneaking in a problematic plugin. An Adobe Employee on their forum said in January that “Adobe Reader does not support PDFViewer in Safari on OSX 10.7.x. Hence, please try to open the pdf/fdf in Adobe Reader instead of safari.”
Ha, ha, ha, yeah right.