Unable to save or download files

From MozillaZine Knowledge Base

Revision as of 11:21, 16 May 2008; view current revision
←Older revision | Newer revision→

If you are unable to save or download files in Firefox, try these suggestions:


Clear the download history

Click "Tools -> Downloads -> Clean Up" in the Firefox menu. If if clearing the list doesn't help or it causes Firefox to hang or crash (or if the Downloads window is already empty), you will need to manually delete the download history, as follows:

Manually delete download history

Firefox 2 and below: Download history is stored in the downloads.rdf file. Clearing the download history within Firefox may be unsuccessful if this file grows too large or if it is corrupt. In such cases, you can manually delete the download history, as follows:

  1. Exit Firefox completely
  2. Open the Firefox profile folder (see the linked article for profile folder locations). Important: On Windows and Linux, the profile folder may be hidden so you should make sure your system is set to show hidden files and folders.
  3. Delete the downloads.rdf file (it will be regenerated when needed).

Firefox 3: Starting in Firefox 3, download history is stored in the downloads.sqlite file. [1] Because of improvements in Firefox 3 data storage, there may be little or no need to manually delete the download history. [2]


You may be able to prevent this problem by setting Firefox not to save a download history:

  • Firefox 2: Click "Tools -> Options -> Privacy / History" and uncheck "Remember what I've downloaded". (As an alternative, under "Privacy / Private Data" select "Always clear my private data when I close Firefox", then click the "Settings..." button and select "Download History" in the "Clear Private Data" window.)
  • Firefox 1.5: Click "Tools -> Options -> Privacy -> Download History" and select either "Upon successful download" or "When Firefox exits" from the "Remove files from the Download Manager" drop-down list.

Choose a different download folder

Firefox will automatically download files to the Desktop unless you've selected a different download folder or you've set Firefox to ask where to save every file. Download problems may be related to the selected download location, for example, the download folder may contain a lot of images [3] or it may no longer be accessible [4]. (To fix problems related to the last-selected download folder, you can open about:config, right-click on the preference and select "Reset".)

To choose a different download folder, click Tools -> Options in the Firefox menu and, under "Main / Downloads" (or "Downloads / Download Folder" in Firefox 1.5 and earlier) select the "Save files to" option (if not already selected) and click the "Browse" button.

Reset download folder

Firefox may have lost track of which folder to use for the download directory. Symptoms would include "File - > Save Page As" and the "Save Image As" and "Save Link As" right-click context menu options not functioning or nothing downloading when you select the "Save" option in the Firefox "Opening" dialog box [5].

The solution may be as simple as choosing a different download folder, then going back and reselecting your preferred download folder in Firefox Tools -> Options under "Main / Downloads" (or "Downloads / Download Folder" in Firefox 1.5 and earlier). For example, if Always ask me where to save files is selected, choose Save files to, choose the "Desktop" folder, then go back and reselect Always ask me where to save files. [6]

If you still have problems you can restore the default Firefox download folder settings as follows:

Enter about:config in the address bar. A list of preferences will appear. Scroll through the list ( or type in the Filter box) and reset any of the following preferences that have a user set status (right-click on the preference and click "Reset"):


You can then change back to your preferred download folder settings, if you wish, in your Firefox Options.

If you'd rather just reset all Firefox preferences to the default values, you can delete (or rename) the prefs.js file in your Firefox profile folder or use the Safe Mode option, Reset all user preferences to Firefox defaults. See Resetting preferences for more information.

Change action for file types

Firefox may be set to handle certain types of files with an automatic action and sometimes the action is not what you want. For example, Firefox may automatically open a certain file type with an application or plugin, when you would rather save the file. In such cases, check for entries related to the file type in the "Download Actions" list ("Tools -> Options -> Content / File Types -> Manage..." in Firefox 2). Either change the action for the file type or remove the action so that Firefox will ask you what to do when you next encounter that type of file. See File types and download actions for details.

Remove download manager plugins - Windows

Download manager plugins can interfere with Firefox downloads if the download manager is uninstalled or otherwise stops working. Such plugins include:

  • NPGetRt.dll (GetRight) [7]
  • NPWinGet.dll (WinGet) [8]
  • npdap.dll (Download Accelerator Plus) [9]
  • npfd.dll (FreshDownload) [10]
  • NPNXCatcher.dll, NPNXCatcher(Audio).dll, and NPNXCatcher(Video).dll (Net Transport) [11]

Information about other download managers can be found at PluginDoc. If you find any of these plugins, remove the plugin files from the Firefox plugins folder (usually C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\plugins). See Issues related to plugins for more information.

Choose a valid download folder in Safari Preferences - Mac

Whenever you attempt to download a file, you may see the error, <filename> could not be saved, because an unknown error occurred. (Save As.. will still work). To fix this problem on Mac OS X 10.4 and earlier, open Safari Preferences and check the "Save downloaded files to:" setting. If this is pointing to an invalid directory, it will cause downloads in Firefox to fail. Select a valid directory, such as your Desktop. Note that Safari no longer controls the default download location in Leopard (10.5). [12]

A user reported in this thread that also changing the location using the old, unsupported Internet Explorer for the Mac solved this problem. If you still have a copy of that application, you might try this approach.

Related bug report: Bug 384068 – [10.5] Firefox should download files to Leopard's Download Stack by default

Delete corrupt plist file - Mac

<filename> could not be saved, because you cannot change the contents of that folder. Change the folder properties and try again, or try saving in a different location.

If you are getting this error each time you attempt to download a file, go to your home directory and delete this preference file: [13] [14]

  • ~/Library/Preferences/

If deleting the plist file above does not solve the problem, you might want to edit that file as per instructions in this thread.

More information on corrupt .plist files can be found here.

Reconfigure security software

ZoneAlarm Pro and CA Personal Firewall (formerly eTrust) include settings that can cause downloads of certain file types to fail with the message, This object has been blocked. See the article Object has been blocked for information on configuring these products to allow the download.

Temporarily disable your antivirus

You may receive the message, <filename> could not be saved, because an unknown error occurred. Try saving to a different location. when you click a link to download an executable (.exe) file. This problem can be caused by a conflict with your antivirus scanner and a firewall product such as Comodo Firewall (see this Comodo forum topic for details).

Some firewalls continue to be active when disabled in the user interface, so disabling the firewall may be ineffective. As a workaround, temporarily disable your resident antivirus scanner when downloading an executable file, then re-enable it when the download is complete.

If you are using the Comodo Firewall, updating it to the latest version may resolve the issue. [15] [16]

Note: PC Tools ThreatFire (formerly Cyberhawk) can also cause the message, <filename> could not be saved, because an unknown error occurred when downloading certain types of files. [17] If you cannot work around the problem or resolve it by updating the software, consider using another security product.

Reset system Internet security settings - Windows

Starting in Firefox 3: When you attempt to download an executable file (e.g., an .exe or .msi file) you may see a Firefox Downloads window showing an error under the filename with the message, "Blocked: Download may contain a virus or spyware" (Firefox 3 Beta 5) or "This download has been blocked by your Security Zone Policy" (Firefox 3 RC1) . This issue does not occur in Firefox 2 or earlier.

Firefox 3 may block downloads of all executable files if the Internet security option, "Launching applications and unsafe files" is set to "Disabled". [18] [19] To reset this option, open Internet Options (via Control Panel or from Internet Explorer -> Tools) and click the "Security" tab. Select the "Internet" zone, click the "Custom level..." button, then find the "Launching applications and unsafe files" setting (under Miscellaneous) and select either "Prompt (Recommended)" or "Enable (not secure)". [20] [21] As an alternate solution, you can reset all Internet zone settings to the recommended defaults by clicking the "Default level" button. If you need more help with Windows Internet security settings, see this article.

Other solutions

Problematic extensions may also cause download problems. A systematic approach to diagnosing extension issues and other problems related to your Firefox profile can be found in the Standard diagnostic - Firefox article. Also check to see if a solution to your problem is given in one of the articles listed below.

See also