How to make PDF file downloadable in HTML link?


I am giving link of a pdf file on my web page for download, like below

<a href="myfile.pdf">Download Brochure</a>

The problem is when user clicks on this link then

  • If the user have installed Adobe Acrobat, then it opens the file in the same browser window in Adobe Reader.
  • If the Adobe Acrobat is not installed then it pop-up to the user for Downloading the file.

But I want it always pop-up to the user for download, irrespective of "Adobe acrobat" is installed or not.

Please tell me how i can do this?

2/9/2012 10:22:14 AM

Accepted Answer

Instead of linking to the .PDF file, instead do something like

<a href="pdf_server.php?file=pdffilename">Download my eBook</a>

which outputs a custom header, opens the PDF (binary safe) and prints the data to the user's browser, then they can choose to save the PDF despite their browser settings. The pdf_server.php should look like this:

header("Content-Type: application/octet-stream");

$file = $_GET["file"] .".pdf";
header("Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=" . urlencode($file));   
header("Content-Type: application/octet-stream");
header("Content-Type: application/download");
header("Content-Description: File Transfer");            
header("Content-Length: " . filesize($file));
flush(); // this doesn't really matter.
$fp = fopen($file, "r");
while (!feof($fp))
    echo fread($fp, 65536);
    flush(); // this is essential for large downloads

PS: and obviously run some sanity checks on the "file" variable to prevent people from stealing your files such as don't accept file extensions, deny slashes, add .pdf to the value

3/30/2017 6:27:02 PM

This is a common issue but few people know there's a simple HTML 5 solution:

<a href="./directory/yourfile.pdf" download="newfilename">Download the pdf</a>

Where newfilename is the suggested filename for the user to save the file. Or it will default to the filename on the serverside if you leave it empty, like this:

<a href="./directory/yourfile.pdf" download>Download the pdf</a>

Compatibility: I tested this on Firefox 21 and Iron, both worked fine. It might not work on HTML5-incompatible or outdated browsers. The only browser I tested that didn't force download is IE...

Check compatibility here:

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