Safer and Faster Downloads in IE9


IE9’s download notification bar helps you focus on your browsing and keeps downloads out of your way. It streamlines the “quick download” scenarios which account for a majority of downloads.

Overall, the IE9 file download experience offers:

  • a streamlined end-to-end download flow,
  • the ability to pause and resume downloads,
  • improved trust and confidence using the SmartScreen Application Reputation service, and
  • easy management of downloaded files with a simple history view.

Responding to Feedback

Over the years, we’ve received a lot of enthusiastic feedback from several channels (including this blog) about Internet Explorer’s download experience. Specifically, users want to be able to pause and resume downloads and also easily access previously downloaded files. These features are especially useful in unreliable, metered, or slow networks.

In addition to this feedback, the sorts of files users download has changed over the years. Many users now consume content such as pictures, videos, and music online rather than downloading and saving it locally.

Based on this landscape, we designed the IE9 file download experience to be lightweight, clean, and simple for everyday users by using the new notification bar. Advanced features and more options for enthusiasts are available via the download manager.

In this post, I talk about the new download notification bar and the security checks Internet Explorer 9 uses to help keep you safe from harmful downloads. A future post will discuss the advanced features of the download manager.

Clean, Fast, and Easy User Experience

We designed a download manager optimized for the two most common download scenarios in browsers:

  • files you want to keep (graduation pictures, receipts, a tax form, etc)
  • Files you want to use once (forwarded email attachments, application installers, etc)

For downloads that you want to “keep,” IE9 offers a streamlined “Save” option that saves the file to the Downloads folder and logs an entry in the download manager history list. This makes it easy to find downloaded files later.

The IE9 file download notification bar

For downloads that you want to “use once,” you can click “Open” or “Run”. The file will not appear in the download history and opens or runs directly from your Temporary Internet Files cache. This mode is clean, light-weight and focused on letting you consume the file immediately. It keeps the Downloads folder and the history view clean and free of items which you do not want to view/use again.

The following short video shows how the notification bar streamlines file download, SmartScreen Application Reputation feedback, and a few new features of the download manager.

Focus on Sites with the Notification Bar Control

With IE9’s goal of allowing sites to shine, we help you focus on sites with minimal interruptions from IE. You are not forced to switch context from the page you are on to deal with a download prompt.

IE9 file download notification bar asking if you want to Run or Save a file

The notification bar allows you to keep an eye on your download’s progress while you continue to browse:

IE9 file download notification bar showing the percentage of file downloaded and the time remaining

IE will let you know when the download is complete:

IE9 file download notification bar indicating the download is complete

Hence, all stages of the download are presented in the notification bar, avoiding the clutter of additional windows. For most downloads, you can download and consume content right from the bar and do not need to open the download manager.

Fewer Clicks

In order to make the download experience fast, we reduced the number of clicks needed to consume downloaded files. We started by taking a look at the steps to save and open a file in earlier versions of IE:

  1. Initiate: Click on a link to initiate a file download
  2. Initiate: From the information bar, click “download file” to continue
  3. Initiate: From the download dialog, click “save”
  4. Specify: From the “save as” dialog, specify folder
  5. Switch: Switch to the Web page to continue browsing
  6. Notify: Switch to download dialog when download complete
  7. Initiate: Select “open” from the dialog

We realized that we could simplify the concepts and steps from 7 distinct user actions by integrating with the notification bar and making other improvements. With IE9, the same scenario now takes 3 simple steps:

  1. Initiate: Click on a link to initiate a file download (same as IE8)
  2. Initiate: From the download bar, click “save”
  3. Notify & Initiate: The download bar shows the download progress and notifies of completion. The user clicks “open”/ “run” when complete.

The following optimizations reduce clicks even further:

  • We’ve eliminated the information bar and page refresh previously used to block downloads that don’t appear to be user-initiated. The new notification bar provides the same protection in a more streamlined manner.
  • Instead of forcing you to choose a destination folder each time you pick the “Save” option, IE9 stores saved files in the default download folder. To save to a folder other than the default, click “Save as” from the “Save” button dropdown.

IE9 file download notification bar and its Save options menu showing Save, Save as, and Save and Run

Building Trust and Confidence in Downloads

Unfortunately, some downloaded files may harm your computer or attempt to steal your personal information. Internet Explorer 9 includes a new feature called SmartScreen Application Reputation that can help you avoid dangerous downloads while streamlining the experience of downloading files that have a good reputation.

SmartScreen will block the download of known-malicious files:

Notification bar showing SmartScreen blocking the download of a known-malicious file

For uncommonly downloaded files that are potentially-dangerous, IE9 alerts you to the risk:

Notification bar showing SmartScreen questioning the download of a not-commonly-downloaded file

In addition to the enhanced SmartScreen feature, IE9 continues to provide protection from malware using Microsoft SmartScreen, scan downloaded files for viruses using your virus scanner, and check for a valid Authenticode digital signature.

We’ve simplified the security prompts in IE9 so that you see one final recommendation based upon all of the security checks.

Enhanced Experience

The new file download experience enhances your browsing experience by being easier to use and staying out of your way. Stay tuned for future posts describing more features of the download manger.

We hope you enjoy the new streamlined download experience in IE9. As always, we look forward to your feedback.

—Ritika Virmani, Program Manager, Internet Explorer

Comments (37)

  1. browser war says:

    some website don't support resume download.

  2. Ritikav [MSFT] says:

    @browser war

    Yes, some websites don't support download resumption. A follow up post will talk more about that. The feature works for those sites that do support it.

  3. Tim Brastow says:

    Microsoft, how come I get the message "The file may have been moved or deleted" when I just want to download and run a .exe without saving it to my computer?

    I've looked everywhere for a setting that may be blocking this but I don't have a solution.

  4. asdf says:

    You should be able to right click on the notification bar and have a menu with the following:

    1. Copy the referrer url of the download to the clipboard

    2. Copy the download url to the clipboard

    3. Copy the destination location to the clipboard

  5. Chris says:

    I don't like that uncommonly downloaded files only have the option to Delete basically.. I want to see a "Save Anyway"..

  6. Henk Poley says:

    I suspect the average reader of this blog will rarely see malicious downloads, so.. what are the statistics on the new SmartScreen filtering?

  7. Don Reba says:

    "A streamlined end-to-end download flow" — what language is this? Are not all flows streamlined by definition?

    IE9 seems to be unable to resume downloads that FlashGet has no trouble with.

  8. DanglingPointer says:

    @ieblog, please consider this: "Provide us with a create download button in download-manager to manually enter  the URL to resource, file or the entire-webpage. Moreover, make the "Clear list" and "Close" buttons equal in width".

  9. CvP says:

    @Tim

    I faced this once iirc. It was due to antivirus intervention.

  10. Wei Yu says:

    @DanglingPointer, yes, it is necessary.

  11. Mike Dimmick says:

    @Tim Brastow: this problem occurs when the file got cleaned out of IE's cache before you actually clicked Open. This is the same problem as the old 'save picture as' issue, where you can only save as a BMP, not as the original file format. It can occur if the file is too large for the cache (check that the cache size is at least as large as the file you're downloading) but can also occur if the resource was marked non-cacheable or had a very short expiry time.

  12. hAl says:

    @ DanglingPointer

    If you want to create a new download just drop the download url in de adress bar of a new tab.

    No need to go in download manager.

  13. Marc says:

    How about starting the download immediatly when the download link was clicked, so starting to get the data from the remote server in the initiation phase? Put the file in the temp cache and if the user selects run, run it from there or if the user selects save, move it. If the user selects Cancel, delete it.

    This would save quite a large amount of time and would allow a better "flow" as the user can decide later how she wants to use it.

  14. DanglingPointer says:

    @hAl, sometimes, we receive links to download files as a plain-text email. Supposedly, the file type is PDF or some other which launches inside the bowser via corresponding add-on, and our intent is to download the file in that scenario, we would have to wait for the file to load completely then it can be saved.

    There must be number of other scenarios as well, which may require an option to manually enter the URL in download manager. Thus, provided a "Create Download" button in download manager, the user can enlist the download by manually entering the URL to save a file, resource or the entire webpage within the download manager.

  15. Senthil Kumar says:

    @ieblog

    The rounded corners, shades and gradient in the Beta were beautiful. I'd be happy if you bring it back. The square edges and modified shades of the RC don't look as beautiful as the Beta. Please bring the Beta appearance back!

  16. Senthil Kumar says:

    Oh forgive me.. I forgot to mention that I was talking about the tabs' appearance :)

  17. Chris says:

    It would be nice if we could make use of the notifications bar with a notifications API.

  18. antony says:

    @all IE9 disappoint me. i am gone to a website and website not logout me when i click on logout. i found they work fine are everywhere else. this show me how much secure IE is. means if i not mention them someone else can use my account. it's good i found it in IE otherwise lose of…. yesterday i hear about IE9 was hacked in … another thing i found that IE9 light off when i want to fill a form they not lightoff in other browser see this:-http://www.intermediaware.com/contact

    when i use IE9 i found that tabs goes too small even look and work as same as chrome. when i download something they can never show me in the list when download completed. means i never know what was i download.

    Watching and testing on IE9 from a long time never show me the thing the IE9 team tell day on day. atleast i realize all talking about IE9 on MSDN and many place are advertisement. they really not know what user want.

    i thing IE9 come with customization but I found their is nothing IE9 make me happen even you. well their is no plugin to do small thing like read twitter in browser using a plugin addons Even MSFT make dozen a plugin for bing [actually they want to stole the user data to improve the Bing].

    their is nothing good like Firebug , yslow, pixelperfect in IE9 even they tell developer tool in IE9 is best.

    Even IE9 is firstly seen in 2001 but it's …. that IE9 never have any improvement as other have like mozilla later come and make firefox better as possible and their is no alternative of firefox as a development browser. chrome come in aug 2008 as open-source and now have a huge amount of plugin to make web experience better as they can make.

  19. 6205 says:

    You should have created standalone icon on taskbar when download manager open. Not group it under IE icon. Very bad decission. You dont seems to understand what needs to be done.

  20. Steve says:

    @Chris – ABSOLUTELY NOT! There should be no API for this or it will be abused.

    Its bad enough that it was shoved at the bottom of the screen where it should not go but to have other 3rd party developers stuff crud in there will be chaos and the mark the end of the usefullness of the bar.

    I BEG Microsoft to make it a user-preference to put the notification bar back at the top of the screen where it belongs.  I will never, ever want such a bar at the bottom of the screen.

  21. Christopher says:

    DanglingPointer 11 Mar 2011 1:51 AM # @ieblog, please consider this: "Provide us with a create download button in download-manager to manually enter  the URL to resource, file or the entire-webpage. Moreover, make the "Clear list" and "Close" buttons equal in width".

    MSFT IE TEAM, please listen to this man! That would be a brilliant feature to add, especially as you've robbed us of other features we all enjoyed so much that you deemed removable "by design". Yes, I'm referring to the absence of the search bar and implementation of the DumbBox (OneBox). Yes, chrome has OneBox, Firefox does not. I suggest you copy Firefox on this.

  22. jader3rd says:

    @Riasat I personally think that the CreateFile method (the method used to open file handles) should have a timeout parameter which would put an open handle request in a queue to wait for other users of the file to let go of their handle. The primary case for this is to wait for an A/V to let go of the file. Sadly the Windows team isn't going to do this because they say that anti virus's should let go of the file if another request is made. The thing is that the A/V's might try to be nice, but it doesn't always work, and there could be a bug in the A/V. So to me, that's not a real solution to the problem anyway.

  23. RitikaV [MSFT] says:

    @Tim Brastow

    Do you get this message all the time? Can you provide a URL for when you get this? As mentioned by Riasat, this could be due to your anti virus program deleting the file

    @asdf

    #1 and #2 are present in the download manager. #3 is an interesting suggestion. Although, we do provide the option of opening the destination folder in the download manager which is similar.

    The notification bar is kept simple on purpose with more options in the download manager.

    @Chris

    The "Run anyway" option is available after you click "Actions". This is done so that users don't accidentally run the file without paying attention to the warning. Once you say that you would like to Run the file, IE remembers your decision.

    @Henk Poley

    The statistics will be posted soon by the SmartScreen team. Stay tuned :)

    @Don Reba

    Could you provide the URL of the file that IE is unable to resume? IE also has some limitations for resumption. Details will be posted in a follow up blog post.

    @DanglingPointer

    A create download button is an interesting idea and very useful for the scenario you mention. We'll think about it, thanks!

    As for the clear list button, the size is bigger to accommodate other languages of IE.

    @Marc

    That is actually how it works :)

    @Steve

    Please refer to the notification model post for reasons why the bar is at the bottom – blogs.msdn.com/…/user-experiences-quieter-notifications.aspx

    There is also an upcoming post that talks about the improvements made in RC to make download notifications more noticeable and lower priority notifications less intrusive.

  24. S says:

    Overall, these are great enhancement to the IE download experience.

    However, one thing I don't like in IE9RC is how it works with the Windows 7 taskbar progress indicator.  (I'm talking about how the Win7 taskbar icon shows the download progress.)  The problem is if I start a download and then close that browser window, I've lost the Windows 7 taskbar progress bar as I use other browser windows.  Even if I open the View Downloads window, the progress bar isn't shown in the taskbar.  That's a significant set back from IE8 and misses out on taking full advantage of one of Windows 7's cool features.  Shouldn't the View Downloads window show the download progress in the taskbar?

  25. Heath says:

    @RitikaV [MSFT] – we've discussed why the new notification bar in IE9 is a major failure already several times on this blog but when MSFT gets an idea in their head they won't let go because they hate to be proven that they were wrong on something.

    We can all agree that some notifications hardly matter at all… like the completely and utterly useless blocking of the window.prompt() method which when the user unblocks still doesn't work because IE didn't halt execution of the script to wait for a response.  PS if you are going to add stupid blocking for native JavaScript features like this… can you also block alert(), confirm(), print(), the save as dialog, the file upload dialog too… that would be extremely helpful. – NOT!

    However the more important messages like the "Hey Microsoft Blocked something that you care about! e.g. this download that you were looking at at the top of the page! or they hey you're on a modern site that uses geolocation… would you like us to hide the prompt to allow it at the bottom of the page where you won't see it, or look for it?!" are the ones that the bottom notification bar proves frustratingly useless.

    Steve Krugg wrote a great book about this called "Don't Make Me Think!" – I highly recommend EVERY SINGLE MICROSOFT DEVELOPER get a copy of this and read it cover to cover before designing any more ridiculous UI components.

    TOTAL, UTTER, EPIC FAIL!

  26. CvP says:

    @jader3rd

    Without knowing how it actually works, I can't comment about it. However, as long as it doesn't break with MSE, it's all good cause all other antivirus software are PoS anyways.

    @MSFT

    Just like you have provided a "tabs in separate row" option, provide a notification bar on top option too (may as the next menu item in the same menu). Keep it at bottom by default but let the ones who want, keep it at top. Everyone will be happy :)

  27. DanglingPointer says:

    @RitikaV [MSFT], thanks for your reply. I had already submitted the ticket at connect; connect.microsoft.com/…/create-download-in-ie9-download-manager . I shall be very much obliged to see it 'Closed as Fixed'. :D

    Also, more to the Tim Brastow's feedback, there is another way to reproduce this issue. Install MS office, IE9RC and MSE. Click some excel file to download and click Run (rather than save). You will find that after the file is downloaded, MS excel program would launch complaining that the file is missing while the file would still be scanned by the AV. If you goto the temp folder, you will find the file. Meaning, after the scan, the file doesn’t necessarily get deleted by the AV and you can open it from there. The callback to AV scan should trigger the run(downloadX) rather than making it sequel to the completion of download itself (if applicable; av is present).

    ~ m/ for MSFT, Metallica and nothing else matters !!

  28. Don Reba says:

    @RitikaV [MSFT]

    If I recall correctly, I was unable to download VS 2010 from Dreamspark using IE9.

  29. Marc says:

    @Riasat & @RitikaV: Suprises me. The last downloads I clicked (even in IE 8) did not "jump" to a higher percentage when I left the save as window open for a while. But maybe I am mistaken. Even better then!

  30. Still prefer IE8 here... says:

    On IE8, it was easier to see (the bar at the top, didn't obstruct the page) and notice.  But it was more than that (and more than all the pages that alerted you to notice  the 'information bar' up top)… IE8 *remembered* where my files went.

    With IE9 Beta and RC, I find I'm always having to select the down arrow and choose "Save As", or it puts the file in the wrong spot.  I want all MP3 files to go to my Music folder, all EXE or MSI files to go to my "Installers" folder, all JPG, PNG, and GIF files to go to my Pictures folder, and anything else can go do my downloads folder.  I want IE9 to *remember* where I last download a file OF THAT TYPE, so I don't always have to select the "Save As" option, which seems extra laborious compared to IE8.

    I really think that, for me and the way I use browsers at least, this change is a huge step backwards in usability and in functionality.  I can't count the times I accidentally (out of habit) just clicked save, and didn't think too hard… and ended up panicking when I couldn't find the file where I expected it to be, and had to rummage around in Windows Explorer trying to find the damn thing so I could move it to where it should have gone (and would have gone in IE8) in the first place.

  31. Bob Frankston says:

    How can I automate downloads in IE9 using MSHTML from C#?

  32. okyere-mensah45 says:

    good

  33. okyere-mensah45 says:

    good

  34. Phill-B says:

    Unfortunately it seems like there is no way to automate automatically opening certain files? For instance, when using a SaaS service, printing labels in EPL2 format I used to have always run automatically. Now every time I have to click run in the new window that it generates in. There is no way to go back to the automated behavior?

  35. AH says:

    Hi,

    Recently installed IE9 (Didn't partake in the RC trials, but kinda wish I did now) and really the download manager is the only issues I have with it so far. Are there any plans to update things so those of us that don't wish to use a Download Manager can revert back to the old style operation? I personally can't stand download managers as I know where I want to put things and don't need a history of what was downloaded. As it stands it seems you can't switch it off at the moment, heck even if we are forced to suffer with it can't there at least be a simple checkbox to not to store the download history? Seems like a basic omission to me that one.

    Thanks

  36. Susan says:

    If I wanted a download manager like Chrome or Firefox, I'd run Chrome or Firefox.  I agree, so far along with breaking my titleurl-copy shortcut in IE, the download manager and the search box loss is taking the most to get used to.  Consider options to go back to a "IE" behavior.