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FIX: Content-Disposition Attachment Header Does Not Save File

Retired KB Content Disclaimer
This article was written about products for which Microsoft no longer offers support. Therefore, this article is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.
A Web server that uses the Content-disposition: attachment HTTP header to force a file download should prompt the user to open or save the file; however, in Internet Explorer 5.5 Service Pack 1 (SP1), the user is prompted to open or save the HTML file instead.
To resolve this problem, refer to the hotfix that is described in the following Microsoft Knowledge Base article:
281119 Internet Explorer Saves HTML Content Instead of the Active Document
In addition, a fix for this problem is incorporated in Microsoft security bulletin MS01-015:


There are several ways to work around this problem:
  • Bypass Content-disposition, and use either an ActiveXcontrol or a Java applet to download files to disk.
  • Use the Save As command from the pop-up menu.
  • Use the Internet Explorer download behavior instead. (This is for text-based files only).
  • Use a window.showModalDialog of an HTML page that does a document.write of a hidden IFRAME with the source pointing to the file.
Microsoft has confirmed that this is a bug in the Microsoft products that are listed at the beginning of this article.
More information

Steps to Reproduce Behavior

  1. Create an HTML Page with an anchor tag that points to the file:
    <HTML><BODY>Click <a href=test.txt>here</a> to download file</BODY></HTML>					
  2. Add the HTML Response Headers for the file by using your Web Server software:
    Content-Type = application/download
    Content-Disposition = attachment; filename=test.txt
  3. In Internet Explorer 5.5 SP1, navigate to this new page.
  4. Click the hyperlink to the file.
For additional information, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
244757 HOWTO: Download a File Without Prompting
260519 HOWTO: Raise a File Download Dialog Box for a Known MIME Type
262042 FIX: Content-Disposition: Attachment Saves Wrong Filename for Unknown Extension
267991 FIX: Content-Disposition: Attachment Fails for Known Content Types
266305 FIX: Canceling Multiple File Downloads on Large File Causes Internet Explorer to Stop Responding
For more information about download behavior, see the following MSDN Web site:For more information about developing Web-based solutions for Microsoft Internet Explorer, visit the following Microsoft Web sites:
open save file Content-Type Content-Disposition attachment inplace

Article ID: 279667 - Last Review: 06/19/2014 12:23:00 - Revision: 6.0

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