How can I open a document directly in the browser in Windows 8.1?

Anonymous May 7, 2014
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I recently bought a new laptop running Windows 8.1 (previously used Vista). Like most people, I’m adapting. However, one thing that IRRITATES me no end is the fact that I cannot simply OPEN a document (ANY document) from the web without first having to download it.

I have tried with all three of the browsers listed below. I have searched several times for a setting that would allow me to simply open documents. PLEASE tell me there is a way around this!

Browsers: Mozilla 11, Explorer 11, Chrome 34.0.1847.131 m

  1. Oron J
    May 8, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    I'll start by saying that this is not normal behaviour for either Windows 8 (any version) or for the browsers. Most browsers are set by default to download files to the Downloads folder, and it doesn't sound like you changed it on yours. If you want to check the settings, they're the main "settings" tab for Chrome and under "General" for Firefox, can't remember the exact location for IE.

    Given that, my guess would be that your %temp% variable hasn't been set, and this is causing the problem. You can test this by opening the command line (press the Windows key and X and choose "Command prompt") and type the following lines into it (each line should be followed by pressing the key):
    md C:temp
    set temp=C:temp
    Now try downloading a document and see if the problem has gone away. If it has, this was the cause, but it shouldn't have happened in the first place, so I'd take it back to the shop if I were you and get them to check the machine over and find out what was wrong.

    • Mary T
      May 11, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      I followed your instructions, and the problem is fixed! Thank you!

  2. Jan F
    May 7, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    What type of documents are we talking about here?

    Generally, no file can be opened without downloading first (the data needs to be downloaded to be viewed). This process usually just happens in the background and the file is saved to one of the temporary/cache locations.

    Next to that it's mostly matter of settings. Office for example has a Trust Center with various settings which may not allow opening at all or to open "remote" files as read-only. In Internet Explorer the security zones are usually the cause for such issues.

    In short, not only Windows but also each application has certain security settings which influence the behavior how files from the web will be handled.
    In addition to that browsers need to know how to handle the files. If the browser doesn't know which application to use it will always proceed to just download the file. (first example I found)

    • Mary T
      May 8, 2014 at 12:55 am

      As mentioned above, all types of files... pdf, word, excel, etc.

      Yes, in the past when I used Vista, all the documents downloaded in the background (to a 'temp' file, I guess), but now, when I click on a file online or in an email, I get a window asking for me to save it to a specific location. I find very inconvenient to have to SAVE the file to a specific location, when I don't know what is in the file and if it is a file a WANT to save.

      Since I did not have this issue in ANY browser with Vista, it makes sense to me that it is some setting in Windows 8.1 that is different.