Is it needed to show up a confirmation message to the user before downloading any file from Web Application?

If it is needed, when can I show up this message ?

Do you want to download this file?

[Download] [Cancel]


  • 4
    How big are the files (are they big enough to warn people about?), what is the target audience (does it involve people with little amounts of internet, such as mobile users or users on certain regions where internet isn't as developed as others)?
    – ave
    Mar 6 '18 at 13:43
  • Does your interface inform the user of the file size anywhere?
    – A C
    Mar 7 '18 at 3:18
  • 1
    Does this happen at a point where the user is otherwise unaware they are about to download a file? Or is it only after a user action specifically for that purpose? Mar 7 '18 at 12:27
  • @Ave not more than 5MB, but a lot of files. Mar 7 '18 at 20:18
  • @AC no, it does not inform. Mar 7 '18 at 20:19

This task is already done through all major browsers. If you start throwing these messages into your web app your users will be frustrated.

Imagine you're at a restaurant, the waiter takes your order, then 5 seconds later he comes back to take your order again. You'd be annoyed that he didn't act on your first answer. You'd probably get up and walk out. That's what your users will do.

Bottom line: Leave it to the browser.

Extra: If your web app has a nice big shiny Call To Action (CTA) button for the download and you're not sending them malicious content then you're all good to go without extra confirmation.

  • 5
    I would opt for "then 5 seconds later his supervisor comes back to take your order again." Anyways, +1
    – MonkeyZeus
    Mar 6 '18 at 13:10
  • 14
    What does "CTA" stand for? Mar 6 '18 at 14:57
  • 4
    @LightnessRacesinOrbit CTA = Call To Action
    – user100271
    Mar 6 '18 at 15:04
  • 7
    I would also note that if it's possible to detect if the user is on mobile, depending on the file size, it might be helpful to know "The file is 300MB, please confirm to download" or something like that, no?
    – BruceWayne
    Mar 6 '18 at 17:03
  • 8
    @Bruce Give me that information before I click, then!
    – Riking
    Mar 7 '18 at 0:42

I'd like to add that you really only need confirmations for destructive actions that are hard to undo. It is extremely easy to abort the download if a user decides initiates it by accident or decides that they don't want the file.

Every gratuitous confirmation just adds friction. You're better off focusing on making the action harder to inadvertently activate.


Don't trust the platform too much

As others have pointed out, browsers the features necessary for download management. However, relying on such a varied and volatile platform to make things clear to your users is risky.

Say it clearly once

Make sure the action your users take to initiate the download is crystal clear. Then when the download happens, whatever the browser does with it will come as no surprise.

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