Why does Internet Explorer save docx and xlsx as zip files?

Mark September 1, 2010

When I (and other co-workers) try to download a Microsoft Office 2007 docx or xlsx file in Internet Explorer 8, it changes the file extension to zip. How can I keep this from happening?

I’ve checked the Windows “Default Programs” settings, and they look good. I should note that other browsers (e.g., Firefox, Chrome, Opera) don’t have the same issue. Also, docx and xlsx files on my hard-drive open with the correct programs. Is it an issue with the hosting site or my browser?

  1. wdv
    March 27, 2012 at 9:10 am

    If you really want to get rid of this problem, you need to add the docx, xlsx and pptx to the mime-types on the server. This way you let the server decide what kind of programs are associated with these files.

    If you have a hosted/shared package, then you need to ask your provider to add these to the mime-types.

    What you need to add is:





    For Apache, add the MIME types in the conf/httpd.conf file, as given below:
    AddType application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document .docx
    AddType application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.presentationml.presentation .pptx
    AddType application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.spreadsheetml.sheet .xlsx

    Hope this will get anyone further.

    • DINESH S
      April 9, 2012 at 11:21 am

       Thank u very much

  2. Ytaraki
    September 27, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I like Melm's solution.  It also works with IE8.

  3. Chris
    June 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    This appears to have been fixed in IE9, as it understands the office 2007 & 2010 formats are really zip files, but it checks the internal folder structure and saves them correctly.

    • Melm
      June 8, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      Still using IE7, but what I found worked was to choose "Save" when you click on the file link, then add the proper document extension to the filename in the "Save As" dialog box, i.e. xlsx for Excel, etc.  Although it defines the "Save as type:" as a zipped folder, it appropriately saves the file as the correct type.

  4. Somnath
    May 30, 2011 at 7:04 am

    I checked this issue on IE9 and it works for me (OS- Vista); my client uses Windows 7  and IE 8, it does not work for them; does anyone know whethere MS fixed this on IE9 ?

  5. KenBanks
    May 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I have total administrative control of both
    the server and the client machine involved with this problem and NONE of
    these proposed solutions worked for correcting this problem.In the end, the only thing that FIXED this issue for me was to....1) uninstall 7-Zip (so the browser has nothing to associate with the zip file)2) (Not sure if this step is required, but) I then downloaded the DOCX again,
    (where, coincidentaly, it's still being presented as a ZIP file),
    however, this time I am prompted for what application to open it with and I choose MSWORD.
    I don't choose "Always open with MSWORD", because I don't want MSWORD always opening ZIP files.3) Re-install 7-Zip.After this, all subsequent attempts to download the DOCX, actually
    resulted in a DOCX file being download and opened with the appropriate
    MSWORD application.NOTE: Before you jump to the conclusion that I simply had a broken
    file association, let me confirm, that when this problem was occurring,
    I could double-click on any DOCX in explorer and MSWORD would always
    open it. This problem was always and only occurring when trying to
    download/open a DOCX with IE8. FF4 and Chrome both worked flawlessly.
    I tried adding the proper MIME types to /etc/mime-types and to .htaccess
    on the server side. I also tried Disabling "Open files based on
    content, not file extension" (but this only resulted in the browser open
    the DOCX as unreadable ASCII text), setting the FEATURE_MIME_*
    registry keys to "0", and adding the server URL to the "Trusted Sites"
    Again, NONE OF THESE SEEMINGLY LOGICAL SOLUTIONS WORKED FOR ME.I hope this is helpful to someone.
    Cheers!Ken Banks

    • Mailme_im
      May 24, 2011 at 5:46 pm

      Hello KenBanks,

      Thanks for your post. The seemingly logical solutions did not work for you, however the post was helpful to me as I now know that there is no solution to this problem.

      I have had a case opened with Microsoft support and they are clueless for the past 6 months. They want to enable tracing on the bridgehead servers which is not feasible  (due to security issues and large amount of mail-flow of approx 60-70 GB per day) at this point.

      I'm considering moving to Zimbra eventually as it seems MS products ave lost stability al together with no apparent fixes in the near term.

  6. atta
    February 10, 2011 at 7:38 am

    It's work !

    Thank you Dylen.

  7. Deeexx
    February 8, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Unfortunately, If you are working in a Microsoft-minded company, using Sharepoint, MS Office 2010 and the like, you don't have much of a choice. Since MS refuses to program by world wide standards, alternative wont deal with all the exceptions built in all the MS products. Maybe someday, later, ever?

  8. Anonymous
    September 2, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Seeing as the question has been answered, I must say, do not use Internet Explorer. Ever.

  9. Dylen
    September 2, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    It is an IE issue and until Microsoft will release a fix in their next IE8 update, this should help:
    1. In the upper-right corner of IE8, click on Tools to open the drop down menu;
    2. At the bottom of the Tools menu, click Internet Options;
    3. In the Internet Options dialog box, select the Security tab;
    4. On the Security tab, select the Internet zone, then click the Custom Level button;
    5. Scroll about 2/3 down the list to the option "Open file based on content, not file extension" and change the setting to Disable;
    6. Click OK;
    7. Repeat steps 4-6 for the Local Intranet zone and Trusted Sites zone;
    8. Click OK;
    9. Close all instances of IE8;
    10. Reopen IE8 and it should now recognize Office 2007 and 2010 file extensions when saving email attachments.

    • Ryandube
      March 8, 2011 at 8:04 pm

      Hmm Did all this, however, my Windows Business Vista and Office 2007 still comes up in IE as a .ZIP file. :(

    • Cat
      September 12, 2011 at 7:23 pm

      This solution may work for e-mail attachments, but did not work for downloading a file from a web page.  Rats.

    • Cat
      September 12, 2011 at 7:23 pm

      This solution may work for e-mail attachments, but did not work for downloading a file from a web page.  Rats.

    • Andy-sayers
      January 3, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Worked perfectly fit down loading web based emAil attachments

  10. Jguay_1966
    September 2, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    I don't know why, but I learned yesterday that if you change the extension file docx for zip you will be able to open the file as a zip file with all the object of your docx file (images, xml files, etc.).

  11. Jack Cola
    September 2, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    What website are you downloading from? Hotmail, Office Online?

    It will probably download as a zip file, because if you are downloading multiple times, it's easier to manage and save time downloading.

  12. Anonymous
    September 2, 2010 at 10:14 am

    actually .docx and .xlsx are zip file, you can try to open it with 7zip
    just rename those file with the correct extension

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