Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Change what Firefox does when you click on or download a file

This article will describe how Firefox handles downloads for different types of files and how you can change that behavior.

Download actions

When you click a link to download a file, the Internet Media type, also called the MIME type or Content type, determines what action Firefox will take. You may already have a plugin installed that will automatically handle the download. Other times, you may see a dialog asking whether you want to save the file or open it with a specific application. When you tell Firefox to open or save the file and also check the option to "Do this automatically for files like this from now on" (see below), an entry appears for that type of file in the Firefox Applications panel.

Changing download actions

This will not affect media embedded in a web page - only links to the files themselves.

  1. Click the menu button New Fx Menu and choose Options.Preferences.
  2. Select the Applications panel.
  3. The Applications panel will display. Select the type of file for which you want to change the default action.
    Multiple entries for the same file format or extension? Some file types can include more than one Internet Media type.
  4. The Action column will give you a drop-down menu, with options on action to take, whenever you click that type of file.
    ApplicationsDropPDFWin Fx4AppPanelMac-drop.jpg incontent pref 38
    • Always ask: will prompt you to select what action you want Firefox to take when you click on that type of file. This can be useful if Firefox is automatically saving a file type or is always opening it with a certain program and you want to be asked what to do.
    • Save File: will always save the file to your computer using the Downloads window, whenever you click that type of file.
    • Open the file with an application or plugin of your choosing.
  5. Close the about:preferences page. Any changes you've made will automatically be saved.

Adding download actions

  1. On the web, find a link to a file matching the type you want to add.
  2. Click on the file link to download it.
  3. Select how you want Firefox to handle the file:
  4. In the Opening file window, check mark Do this automatically for files like this from now on.
    Fx4WinOpeningFile MacOpeningFile
  5. Click OK.
Is Do this automatically for files like this from now on disabled? This can happen if the website's server incorrectly specifies the Internet Media type of the file. It also can happen if the server assigns "Content-Disposition: attachment" to the file.
Customize this article


Firefox for Android

Firefox for iOS

Firefox OS


Version History
Revision #:
3 of 3
Last update:
3 weeks ago
Updated by:

I don't see any instructions on adding a mime type to the list manually. It seems the only way is to click a file and let FireFox ask you what to do. But what does one do when FF just sits there, spins it wheels and never asks you or even begins the download process? (this is happening with .torrent files)

See /forums/knowledge-base-articles/705255 for related discussions about this article.

Hi samadams.

When I first click on a .torrent file, the Opening File window opens. Do you know what was wrong for you? Did you ask your question in the support forum: ?


So I want Excel for Mac to open older Excel versions when it sees an xls suffix, and it will open it when I select the Excel app. But I have to do it every time even though I check the box for "do this from now on" It still won't include xls as a file type in the applications menu for Firefox for some reason.

Hi vincekueter. Thank you for the feedback.

Can you tell what the workaround (you've found by your own or got from the support forum) is so that it's eventually included in the article?


Hello.!! I'm Using Firefox 20.0.3 . when I download an exe file it always stops at the last. I tried some methods but it doesn't work what should I do? Thanks In Advance!!!!

See this KB article for download problems:

What to do if you can't download or save files

(I'll make an edit to add that link to this article.)

If the problem is limited to exe files I would start with "Disable virus scanning in Firefox preferences." then try the other suggestions. You could also ask a question on the support forum. See Get community support.

hammadabbasi said

Hello.!! I'm Using Firefox 20.0.3 . when I download an exe file it always stops at the last. I tried some methods but it doesn't work what should I do? Thanks In Advance!!!!