If you upgraded to Google Chrome browser version 86, which was released on September 6, 2020, you will notice that some file downloads no longer work in the browser. You just click on the download link and nothing happens. Chrome does not display notification and information about what’s happening is virtually non-existent, or not happening in this case. It also does not list the check file of the browser’s download page.
The fact that nothing happened confuses users, because the download should start after clicking on the link.
Google announced in early 2020 that if the resulting page used HTTPS it would block the content provided by insecure HTTP. The company decided to gradually release this feature by adding more file types to the blacklist. Executable files, such as .exe or .bat, are the first file types to be blocked, and the Chrome 86 release will keep that block in place. Future versions of Chrome will block non-executable file types such as PDF, ZIP or JPG files.
There is only one option to find out if downloads are blocked in Chrome, or if this is an unrelated issue, e.g. Server problem.
- Select Menu> More Tools> Developer Tools.
- Switch to the console in the Developer Tools interface.
- Chrome displays a red “mixed content” alert for downloads that it blocks. It displays that the site in “HTTPS * is loaded over a secure connection, but the file in HTTP * is redirected over an” “insecure connection. This file must be provided via HTTPS. This download is blocked.
Below is a screenshot of such a message.
Now that you know what happened, you need to understand what your options are for downloading the file.
Currently, the easiest option available is to right-click on the download link and select “Save Link As”. The download will run when you do so.
There are other options and in the future Google may block downloads by right-clicking:
- Use a different browser for downloads. Most browsers follow Google’s implementation and block insecure downloads. Currently, browsers such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, Brave, Vivaldi, New Edge or Opera are allowed for download.
- Use the download manager. Programs such as Internet Download Manager, Yujet or Extreme Download Manager will continue to download files from HTTP sources. Another question is whether plug-ins or extensions will choose to download, because blocked downloads may no longer be taken, but right-clicking, saving the URL, and manually pasting into the download manager should work regardless of the browser’s blocking settings.
Blocked file types lack clarity and information in execution. Users who are unfamiliar with Developer Tools do not know why they did not download the file in Chrome. Right-click bypass may work right now, but it’s not clear if that will happen and many users will not recognize it as the only option in Chrome to download blocked files. Since users must be browser controlled and not the other way around, a clear warning is displayed with the Override option.
Now you: Is blocking file downloads without notification, protecting users a good thing or user friendly behavior?