How to encode the filename parameter of Content-Disposition header in HTTP?

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Web applications that want to force a resource to be rather than directly in a Web browser issue a Content-Disposition header in the HTTP response of the form: Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=FILENAME The filename parameter can be used to suggest a name for the file into which the resource is downloaded by the browser. RFC 2183 (Content-Disposition), however, states in section 2.3 (The Filename Parameter) that the file name can only use US-ASCII characters:

Current [RFC 2045] grammar restricts parameter values (and hence Content-Disposition filenames) to US-ASCII. We recognize the great desirability of allowing arbitrary character sets in filenames, but it is beyond the scope of this document to define the necessary mechanisms. There is empirical evidence, nevertheless, that most popular Web browsers today seem to permit non-US-ASCII characters yet (for the lack of a standard) disagree on the encoding scheme and character set specification of the file name. Question is then, what are the various schemes and encodings employed by the popular browsers if the file name “naïvefile” (without quotes and where the third letter is U+00EF) needed to be encoded into the Content-Disposition header? For the purpose of this question, being:

12 Answers

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Grade: A

Sure, I'd be happy to help you with that!

The Content-Disposition header's filename parameter specifies the name of the file that the client (i.e., the web browser) should use when saving the response body to a file. As you mentioned, the RFC 2183 specification only allows US-ASCII characters in the filename parameter. However, as you also pointed out, many modern web browsers support non-ASCII characters in filenames by using various encoding schemes.

Here are some of the encoding schemes used by popular web browsers:

  1. URL encoding (or percent encoding): This is the most common encoding scheme used by web browsers. In this scheme, non-ASCII characters are replaced with a "%" symbol followed by two hexadecimal digits representing the ASCII code of the character. For example, the filename "naïvefile" (without quotes and where the third letter is U+00EF) would be encoded as "na%EF%BF%BDevfile".
  2. UTF-8 encoding: Some web browsers, such as Google Chrome, support the use of UTF-8 encoding in the Content-Disposition header's filename parameter. In this scheme, the filename is simply encoded in UTF-8 and enclosed in double quotes. For example, the filename "naïvefile" would be encoded as "naïvefile".
  3. Hexadecimal encoding: Some web browsers, such as Internet Explorer, support the use of hexadecimal encoding in the Content-Disposition header's filename parameter. In this scheme, non-ASCII characters are replaced with a "\x" symbol followed by two hexadecimal digits representing the ASCII code of the character. For example, the filename "naïvefile" would be encoded as "na\xEF\xBB\xBDevfile".

It's important to note that not all web browsers support all of these encoding schemes, and some web browsers may use different encoding schemes depending on the version or platform. Therefore, it's generally a good idea to use a combination of encoding schemes in the Content-Disposition header's filename parameter to ensure maximum compatibility with different web browsers.

Here's an example of how you might specify the Content-Disposition header with a filename parameter that uses a combination of URL and UTF-8 encoding:

Content-Disposition: attachment; filename*=UTF-8''na%EF%BB%BDevfile

In this example, the filename* parameter is used instead of filename to indicate that the value is encoded in UTF-8. The value of the filename* parameter is then URL-encoded, with the non-ASCII characters replaced with "%EF%BB%BD" (the URL-encoded version of the UTF-8-encoded version of the "ï" character).

I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any further questions.

Up Vote8Down Vote
Grade: B


The filename parameter of the Content-Disposition header allows for specifying a suggested file name for download. However, as per RFC 2183, the filename can only contain US-ASCII characters. This means that non-ASCII characters in the filename will not be encoded correctly.

Encoding Schemes and Encodings Employed by Popular Browsers:

1. UTF-8 Encoding:

  • Some browsers, such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, use UTF-8 encoding to convert non-ASCII characters in the filename to Unicode characters.
  • This encoding scheme converts the file name "naïevefile" into the Unicode sequence U+00C3 U+00A9 U+00EF U+00A0.

2. Base64 Encoding:

  • Other browsers, such as Apple Safari and Microsoft Edge, encode non-ASCII characters using Base64.
  • This encoding scheme converts the file name "naïevefile" into the Base64 encoded string "aGVsbGUyZXlfcyBhbGVtbCBhbGUy".

3. Quoted ASCII Characters:

  • Some browsers, such as Opera, enclose non-ASCII characters in quotes.
  • This encoding scheme converts the file name "naïevefile" into the string "'naïevefile'".

Recommended Encoding:

Given the inconsistencies across browsers, it is recommended to use quoted ASCII characters for non-ASCII characters in the filename. This ensures that the filename will be encoded consistently across different browsers.


Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="'naïevefile'"


The actual encoding of non-ASCII characters in the filename may vary slightly between browsers. It is always best to consult the documentation for the specific browser you are using.

Up Vote8Down Vote
Grade: B

I know this is an old post but it is still very relevant. I have found that modern browsers support rfc5987, which allows utf-8 encoding, percentage encoded (url-encoded). Then Naïve file.txt becomes:

Content-Disposition: attachment; filename*=UTF-8''Na%C3%AFve%20file.txt

Safari (5) does not support this. Instead you should use the Safari standard of writing the file name directly in your utf-8 encoded header:

Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=Naïve file.txt

IE8 and older don't support it either and you need to use the IE standard of utf-8 encoding, percentage encoded:

Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=Na%C3%AFve%20file.txt

In ASP.Net I use the following code:

string contentDisposition;
if (Request.Browser.Browser == "IE" && (Request.Browser.Version == "7.0" || Request.Browser.Version == "8.0"))
    contentDisposition = "attachment; filename=" + Uri.EscapeDataString(fileName);
else if (Request.Browser.Browser == "Safari")
    contentDisposition = "attachment; filename=" + fileName;
    contentDisposition = "attachment; filename*=UTF-8''" + Uri.EscapeDataString(fileName);
Response.AddHeader("Content-Disposition", contentDisposition);

I tested the above using IE7, IE8, IE9, Chrome 13, Opera 11, FF5, Safari 5.

November 2013:

Here is the code I currently use. I still have to support IE8, so I cannot get rid of the first part. It turns out that browsers on Android use the built in Android download manager and it cannot reliably parse file names in the standard way.

string contentDisposition;
if (Request.Browser.Browser == "IE" && (Request.Browser.Version == "7.0" || Request.Browser.Version == "8.0"))
    contentDisposition = "attachment; filename=" + Uri.EscapeDataString(fileName);
else if (Request.UserAgent != null && Request.UserAgent.ToLowerInvariant().Contains("android")) // android built-in download manager (all browsers on android)
    contentDisposition = "attachment; filename=\"" + MakeAndroidSafeFileName(fileName) + "\"";
    contentDisposition = "attachment; filename=\"" + fileName + "\"; filename*=UTF-8''" + Uri.EscapeDataString(fileName);
Response.AddHeader("Content-Disposition", contentDisposition);

The above now tested in IE7-11, Chrome 32, Opera 12, FF25, Safari 6, using this filename for download: 你好abcABCæøåÆØÅäöüïëêîâéíáóúýñ½§!#¤%&()=`@£$€{[]}+´¨^~'-_,;.txt

On IE7 it works for some characters but not all. But who cares about IE7 nowadays?

This is the function I use to generate safe file names for Android. Note that I don't know which characters are supported on Android but that I have tested that these work for sure:

private static readonly Dictionary<char, char> AndroidAllowedChars = "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ._-+,@£$€!½§~'=()[]{}0123456789".ToDictionary(c => c);
private string MakeAndroidSafeFileName(string fileName)
    char[] newFileName = fileName.ToCharArray();
    for (int i = 0; i < newFileName.Length; i++)
        if (!AndroidAllowedChars.ContainsKey(newFileName[i]))
            newFileName[i] = '_';
    return new string(newFileName);

@TomZ: I tested in IE7 and IE8 and it turned out that I did not need to escape apostrophe ('). Do you have an example where it fails?

@Dave Van den Eynde: Combining the two file names on one line as according to RFC6266 works except for Android and IE7+8 and I have updated the code to reflect this. Thank you for the suggestion.

@Thilo: No idea about GoodReader or any other non-browser. You might have some luck using the Android approach.

@Alex Zhukovskiy: I don't know why but as discussed on Connect it doesn't seem to work terribly well.

Up Vote7Down Vote
Grade: B

If you want to encode the filename parameter of Content-Disposition header with a non-US-ASCII character like "naïvefile" (with the letter "æ"), there is no standardized way to do it as RFC 2183 only allows US-ASCII characters. However, some popular web browsers may still allow downloading files with non-US-ASCII filenames without encoding.

To increase the chances of successful file downloads across different browsers, you have a few options:

  1. Use URL-encoded filenames: The filename should be encoded using the same technique as used for URLs in HTTP requests. Replace all non-alphanumeric characters (including spaces) with their %XX encoding (where XX is the hexadecimal value of the character). In this case, the filename "naïvefile" would be encoded as "%C3%A0ivefile".
    Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=%C3%A0ivefile
  2. Use a percentage sign (%) followed by the number of hexadecimal digits representing the non-US-ASCII character before the remaining characters in the filename. For example, use "%C3%A0" for "å" and "%C3%A4" for "ä", then continue with the rest of the filename as normal:
    Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=%C3%A0ivefile

Keep in mind that even with encoding, there is no guarantee that all browsers will support or handle the encoded filenames correctly. Some browsers might still display an error message or prompt the user to save the file with a different name, or ignore the filename parameter entirely and download the file under a default name like "attachment" or "download".

There are ongoing efforts, such as RFC 6266 (Filename-Encoded-Attributes Values), to provide more standardized ways of encoding filenames for Content-Disposition headers and make cross-browser file downloads with non-US-ASCII filenames more consistent.

Up Vote6Down Vote
Grade: B

The most common encoding methods for non-US-ASCII filenames used in HTTP responses include the use of UTF-8 or ISO-8859-1 (latin1). However, even though they specify their file names in US-ASCII format, these encodings are still compatible with any valid unicode character.

For instance, for filename “naïvefile”, both UTF-8 and ISO-8859-1 would be valid:

Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="naivefile"; charset=utf-8
Content-Disposition: attachment; filename*=UTF-8''na%C3%AFvefile
Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="naïvefile"; charset=ISO-8859-1
Content-Disposition: attachment; filename*=ISO-8859-1''na%E2%80%A6vefile

The first option using "filename*" attribute allows the server to indicate a different encoding other than US-ASCII for the parameter value.

When receiving these headers, browsers need to parse them carefully as they could use either of the two formats and the charset qualifier can be omitted. The file name should also be parsed in unescaped form (with actual umlauts etc), not in encoded form. This is done because filenames often contain characters that have specific meanings in HTTP headers and it's safer to handle these as special cases than blindly decode the whole filename.

Up Vote6Down Vote
Grade: B
Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="na%C3%AFvefile"
Up Vote5Down Vote
Grade: C

There is discussion of this, including links to browser testing and backwards compatibility, in the proposed RFC 5987, "Character Set and Language Encoding for Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) Header Field Parameters." RFC 2183 indicates that such headers should be encoded according to RFC 2184, which was obsoleted by RFC 2231, covered by the draft RFC above.

Up Vote4Down Vote
Grade: C

One possible solution to encode filename parameter in HTTP is to use base64 encoding. Base64 is a group of binary-to-text encoding schemes that represents binary data as an ASCII string, using 64 unique characters. Base64 encoding allows you to convert any byte sequence into an ASCII text format without loss or change of information, and it can be reversed using the inverse algorithm to recover the original message from the encoded data. In this case, base64-encoding is required because the file name might contain special characters (U+00EF) that cannot be directly used in the Content-Disposition header. To encode a filename using base64, first convert it into bytes. Then, use the b64encode function from the built-in base64 module to convert the bytes object to base64 encoded text. Finally, include this encoded value as the value of the filename parameter in the Content-Disposition header:

import base64

filename = "naïvefile"
byte_data = filename.encode('utf-8')  # Encode string into bytes object with utf-8 encoding
base64_encoded_value = base64.b64encode(byte_data).decode()  # Convert byte data to base64 encoded text, and then decode to get the final value
filename = 'Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="' + base64_encoded_value +'"'  # Construct URL with the encoded filename parameter

In this code snippet, we first create a variable filename, which is assigned to the string "naïvefile". Then, we use the built-in encode() function and the utf-8 encoding scheme to convert the filename into bytes object. After that, we use the base64 module to encode the byte data using base64 encoding and then decode it back to get a text representation of the encoded filename. Finally, we construct the Content-Disposition header using the value obtained from the previous steps: "Content-Disposition: attachment; filename= '" + base64_encoded_value + "'". This will encode the filename parameter in the HTTP response of our web application with base64 encoding and allow it to be used for mandatory resources.

Up Vote1Down Vote
Grade: F
  • Internet Explorer 9
  • Firefox 3.6
  • Safari 5
  • Opera 10.53
  • Chrome 7
  • Konqueror 4
Up Vote1Down Vote
Grade: F

The file name "naïvefile" would need to be encoded into the Content-Disposition header in a variety of ways depending on the specific browser being used. Some popular browsers today, for example, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, etc., might encode the file name using one of several different encodings schemes or character sets that are available and commonly used by these browsers and others.

Up Vote-1Down Vote
Grade: F

The encoding scheme and character set specification of the file name in Content-Disposition headers vary across popular browsers. However, you can follow these guidelines to ensure compatibility:

  1. US-ASCII (ASCII): You can use only ASCII characters in the file name field for compatibility with all browsers. This means no Unicode or non-ASCII characters.
  2. UTF-8 (UTF8): You can use UTF-8 encoding for the file name in Content-Disposition headers if your filename is only in English and contains no special characters. However, if your filename includes special characters from other languages, you need to specify the character encoding in the header.
  3. URI-encoding: You can use URL encoding (%) to represent any special characters in the file name field of Content-Disposition headers. This method is compatible with most browsers but may not work on older versions of Internet Explorer.
  4. Base64 encoding: Some browsers use a variant of base64 encoding for file names that contains non-ASCII or special characters. Use this method if you encounter compatibility issues with other methods.
  5. Encoding the file name in a different language: If your file name is not in US-ASCII or UTF-8 format, you can represent it in another language's character set, such as Hexadecimal or Octal, but only for specific characters that are supported by each browser.
  6. Conversion to ASCII (ISO): Some browsers support converting non-US-ASCII characters into the equivalent ASCII character using the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards. Use this method if your file name includes special characters and compatibility issues persist after using other encoding schemes.
  7. Checking browser compatibility: It's important to test your Content-Disposition header encoding with popular browsers and determine which scheme works best for your use case, especially when it comes to non-ASCII or special character handling.
  8. Updating your HTML form: Make sure your HTML forms have the correct enctype attribute set to "multipart/form-data" so that your files are submitted as binary data rather than URL-encoded text.
  9. Checking for HTTP header compatibility: Make sure all browsers support Content-Disposition headers with different file name encodings and check if they behave consistently when encountering special characters in the file name field.
  10. Providing fallback options: If you're unable to determine which encoding scheme or character set to use for your Content-Disposition header, provide fallback options such as offering the file name in different languages with translations of the original language.
Up Vote-1Down Vote
Grade: F

The context does not provide information about the various schemes and encodings employed by the popular browsers if the file name “naïvefile” (without quotes and where the third letter is U+00EF) needed to be encoded into the Content-Disposition header, therefore I cannot answer the question.