Getting feature parity on Internet Explorer is never very fun, or easy. I recently worked on a project where we needed to support inline downloads - specifically, a generated CSV string, as a file in all greenfields browsers as well as IE9-11.

Fortunately, IE 10 and 11 support the Blob API, which make downloads pretty simple using the ‘msSaveBlob` non-standard API.

IE9 has no such support though - either for Blob building, or for saving said blobs. Fortunately, there is a convenient workaround, using simple document body manipulation and the SaveAs execCommand that can be sent to a frame.

Here’s the snippet:

function legacyBrowserSave(content, filename) {
  const frame = document.createElement("iframe");
  document.body.appendChild(frame);"text/html", "replace");

  frame.contentWindow.document.execCommand("SaveAs", true, filename);
  return false;

This snippet should be wrapped in a browser or feature detection script, since saving a blob is supported in nearly every other browser.

Just to step through this solution within the function body, line by line:

On line 1, we create a new <iframe> element.

On line 2, we attach this new element to the document body. The iframe will not display as it has no width or height.

On line 4, we “open” the document. The second argument to this function, "replace", indicates that a new history item should not be added (this isn’t an actual navigation after all).

On line 5, we write the file content into the iframe, and then close the document on line 6. (This open, write, close operation is equivalent to doing document.write except it resets the existing content.)

On line 8, we focus the window within the frame. This is necessary for the next operation on line 9, when we pass an execCommand to the frame’s window, with the argument of “SaveAs”. (execCommand options are not standardized across browsers. In this case, SaveAs is specific to Internet Explorer). The true argument provided here is to indicate whether the default UI should be shown or not and has no effect - it’s just a required arg so that we can pass the filename as the third argument.

On line 10, we remove the frame from the document.body, since the user has now been presented with a dialog to save the file, and the frame is no longer required.

The return false is just to prevent the event from bubbling, since we have handled it.

Here’s a demo of this in action:

IE9 download demo

Source Gist