‘Cannot Download The Information You Requested’ Fix

The ‘Cannot download the information you requested’ error message may appear when you try to open a hyperlink (website link) from within a Microsoft Office program.

Hyperlinks are often included in Excel spreadsheets, Word documents and Outlook emails – in some cases the error message may appear when you click the hyperlink, instead of it opening the website in your default web browser.

Note: similar error messages may be caused by other issues e.g. the hyperlink is invalid – copy and paste it into a web browser to see if it opens the webpage directly.

Why Can’t It Download The Information?

There are several possible causes, each with their own solution. So let’s consider each in turn:

1. If the hyperlink is to an encrypted (secure) https:// webpage

It is possible that the webpage has set a ‘Pragma: no-cache’ header behind the scenes – this asks IE not to save the webpage to IE’s cache.

However, in order for the hyperlink to download the webpage, it does have to be saved to IE’s cache. If the webpage specifically asks IE not to do this and IE is set to not save encrypted pages to disk, the download will fail and you’ll see the error message.

In this scenario, some hyperlinks may work ok (because the website has not set a ‘Pragma: no-cache’ header or they are http) while others will not work.

To fix this:

  • Open IE and click on Tools / Internet Options / Advanced then scroll down to the Security settings and untick the box for ‘Do not save encrypted pages to disk’ as shown below:

IE save encrypted pages to disk

  • Now click OK, then close IE and restart the computer – hopefully that problem should now be fixed.

2. A known issue with Office document hyperlinks

The ‘Cannot download the information you requested’ error message may appear in certain circumstances if Internet Explorer is not your default web browser. Microsoft have a help page about this issue – it’s for a slightly different error message but the causes and the registry fix are the same.

To fix this:

  • Click Start, type regedit in the search box, then click on the regedit.exe program to open it.
  • In Registry Editor, browse to one of the following subkeys (create the key if it does not exist):
For a 32 Bit version of Office on 64 bit Windows:

For a 32 Bit version of Office on 32 bit Windows
Or for a 64 Bit version of Office on 64 bit Windows:
  • Make sure the Internet subkey is selected. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value. Add the following registry value:
    Value Name: ForceShellExecute
  • Double-click ForceShellExecute, and then set the Value data to 1. Click OK.
  • On the Registry menu, click Exit.
force shell execute registry fix
New registry value added

Note: Microsoft advice is to add ForceShellExecute to the ..Office\9.0\Common\Internet subkey path and that should work for most people.

But if it doesn’t, you may need to add it to the Internet subkey of your actual Office build number instead i.e. to one of the following, depending which version of Office you have:

..\Office\19.0\Common\Internet for Office 2019

..\Office\16.0\Common\Internet for Office 2016

..\Office\15.0\Common\Internet for Office 2013

..\Office\14.0\Common\Internet for Office 2010

..\Office\12.0\Common\Internet for Office 2007

..\Office\11.0\Common\Internet for Office 2003

3. If you have IE10 or earlier

I came across this issue on older versions of Internet Explorer whilst testing how to work offline in Chrome. The cause is an odd one – regardless of whether or not you ever use it, if Internet Explorer 10 (or earlier) is set to Work Offline then hyperlinks fail to open and the error message is displayed e.g.

Cannot download the information you requested hyperlink error

If you use Chrome or Firefox etc as your default web browser (and hyperlinks normally open directly in that browser) you might think that IE settings are irrelevant. However, this isn’t the case – it is likely that the Windows file type of ‘URL’ is still associated with IE.

Therefore, if Internet Explorer is set to Work Offline, the hyperlink can’t be opened (as Windows still thinks you have no internet access i.e. are working offline) – even though your default browser is online and you can open the website fine if you copy and paste the URL link into your browser…

To fix this:

  • Open IE and click on Tools in the Command Bar then click on ‘Work Offline’ to untick it – hyperlinks should now open in your default web browser.
  • OR
  • Open IE and click on ‘File’ in the Menu Bar (if Menu Bar is hidden, press ALT to display it) then click on ‘Work Offline’ to untick it – hyperlinks should now open in your default web browser.

Note: Work Offline was removed from Internet Explorer 11 so this is not an issue in Windows 10, Windows 8 or Windows 7 SP1 because they all have IE11 installed, not IE10 or earlier.


The ‘Cannot download the information you requested’ error message on hyperlinks in Microsoft Office products like Excel and Word can be caused by several issues, mostly relating to Internet Explorer.

It is unusual in that, even if IE is not your default browser, IE settings can still prevent hyperlinks from opening.

However, the potential solutions are relatively easy and worth investigating before trying more complex fixes such as repairing MS Office or switching to a new user account.

25 thoughts on “‘Cannot Download The Information You Requested’ Fix”

  1. I have IE11 installed on my system and apparently ‘work offline’ has been removed from this version, but I’m still getting the “! Cannot download the information you requested.” error when trying to open a link in both word or excel. Is there anything I can do to get the links to work?

    • hi Richard, is the exact message “Cannot download the information you requested” or perhaps is it “Unable to open. Cannot download the information you requested” ? there are two different messages for what i believe to be two different problems and the fix is different depending. check out my post from 9/7/13 and see if the other fix applies to you.

  2. It worked! Fantastic. Thanks for the great note and help. What a simple solution. And one cannot even imagine that IE is causing it.

  3. That was a great tip. the issue started in excel 2 days ago. Chrome is my default. Not sure how i selected work offline in IE, but de-selecting it did the trick . Thanks!

  4. After spending the best part of an hour googling an answer to the question “cannot download the information you requested” yours was the simplest answer to my problem! Thank you :)

  5. It worked for me!!! Firefox was my default internet. I got the error message in Word: “Cannot download the information you requested.” I opened IE (after I figured out what IE was….Internet Explorer), found the correct Tools icon (it was the Tools with the arrow down button next to it on the lower level tool bar–not the one up next to Favorites and Help), and unchecked Work Offline. I’m just wondering why / how it got checked!! Whatever. It worked….Thanks for the simple solution, Roy!

  6. This is how I solved this problem.
    Open IE and go to “Tools” in the upper right corner and then click on “Internet options” and then go to Tab called “Programs” and then you will see “HTML editing”,HTML editor will be set to Microsoft Word,change it to notepad,apply and click ok. Problem should be solved!

  7. Using XP, Office 11 & Chrome. Haven’t used IE for maybe 6 months, but today links from Excel came up with same problem (fine only last week!)
    Both ‘Cannot open file’ and ‘Cannot download..’ messages at separate times.
    Opened IE, un-ticked ‘work offline’, back to normal!
    Thanks to all: it was driving me mad!
    (NB XP is way out of date (10-yr old pc): I junked IE because of the multiple file creation problem.)

  8. I have Windows 7, Office 10 and Chrome for the default browser. The problem occurs in Excel, Word and PowerPoint at the same time but never Outlook.
    I have read lots of advice on the Net but none of those work for me. (I have tried the one above too, and found that Offline Work has not been allowed to begin with.)
    Today, by chance (and by some actual thinking), I believe I found a simple but annoying solution that works for me.
    The solution is simple: Open IE and leave it open while you try to actuate the links in Office documents by clicking.
    The solution is annoying because as I said the default browser is Chrome.
    The situation could be more annoying, however, if IE would grab the command and the web pages would open in IE. Fortunately this is not the case.
    I wonder if this simple trick helps other people too.
    I also wonder if it works for me tomorrow.

  9. Worked for me thank goodness. Creating references in word 2010 for a dissertation and pressing control and click wouldnt open hyperlinks – it was seriously doing my head in….. now a happy camper and dissertation can finally be submitted. Thanks soooo very much.

  10. hello! after struggling with a similar symptom with opening links in MS Office, i thought i would share my experience with my similar issue and HOW IT WAS FIXED. the message we were receiving is actually “Unable to open . Cannot download the information you requested” (lets call it “error 2”) vs. your message of simply “Cannot download the information you requested” (which we will call “error 1”).

    FIRST: the other comments that claim this did not fix their issue might be because they were having “error 2”, which is not the exact message and the fix is totally different. “error 1” is fixable with your solution of checking the “Work Offline” status of the browser. in trying your solution, it was clear that toggling on the check mark for “Work Offline” produced “error 1” for me, and toggling it off returned me to my original problem with “error 2”. So if your original problem was only “error 1” the posted fix would have worked.

    while searching i found very few fixes for “error 2” and the few that i found were ineffective. also, this was not limited to MS WORD, and extended to Excel and Outlook (possibly to the entire Office suite but this was not tested)

    HERE IS A WORKING FIX from Microsoft: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/218153

    the error described is not the exact “error 2” message (similar…) but the real key is that this page was also linked from another MS KB that expanded on the reasons the “Fix It” was issued (here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/899927/en-us, section “Hyperlinks from Office to Internet Explorer or to another Web browser”) and confirms that the call to open the URL was not making it to the browser at all.

    try the fix listed in this comment for “error 2” and the original post fix only for “error 1”. thank you.

  11. Worked for me with slight variation. I had been using Firefox. I opened IE and used the Alt key to get to menu. The Work Offline was not checked so I checked it. Tested my link in Word and still did not work. Went back to IE and unchecked Work Offline. My link now works in Word! As a side note, I was having problems in Outlook emails which this also fixed. I have my emails set to not download pictures automatically. I need to right click the picture link and select Download Picture if I want to see them. This had broken as well and I could not download the pictures at all. The fix above fixed that as well. Thank you!

  12. Doesn’t work for me. XP, Office 2010, trying to open a link in Word. IE is not set to work offline.

    It’s intensely annoying because it’s part of a newsletter that goes out to about 700 people and I’m not to know whether the link will work for them or not.

  13. @Tony – If you have followed other forums you have presumably already looked at DDE settings and checking default browser etc. Re winsock – any previously-installed LSPs (dlls) will need to be re-installed but afaik Kaspersky doesn’t install its own LSP anyway.

    It should be easy enough to reinstall it (or other security software) if required though.

  14. Sorry guys but that fix does not work.

    I have started a thread on several Forums with that exact same problem.

    I found out by accident how to fix it

    Background first

    I run Windows 7 and Office 2010

    If I opened Outlook then downloaded my emails, then clicked on a hyperlink it momentarily turned purple ( as you would expect ) but did not open the requested site.

    On the Forums where I started the thread I have had all sorts of answers from going into the registry to running “Mr Fixit” from Microsoft, even the Microsoft Forum users could not come up with an answer.

    I came up with the solution by accident.

    Boot the machine as normal and let it fully load, DO NOT OPEN OUTLOOK YET

    Then open I.E ( I use “about blank” as my home home page), minimize that then open Outlook and let it load and get your emails.

    Click on any email that has a hyperlink and “HEY PRESTO” it works.

    Go on try it

    Just to confirm your suspicions close the initial I.E ( you should not have any pages open for this section of test )then try and click the same hyperlink that did open, get my point ! ! !

    I know it works for me because it does but clicking “work offline” did not

    Good luck to everybody.

    Just a point if the people from Microsoft monitor this site and other Forums, then why haven’t they addressed this problem before now

    • Hi Tony, interesting problem/workaround. Our fix is very specific – for the exact error message displayed above. There are many other similar issues with links not opening from Word or Outlook which this fix will not resolve – yours seems to be caused by a different problem.

      You should not have to open IE first for the hyperlink to work – have you recently installed/uninstalled Chrome by any chance as that can cause problems? Alternatively, have you tried to reset the winsock catalog? You’d do this in an elevated (use as admin) Command Prompt with the command ‘netsh winsock reset catalog’ – but backup and create a system restore point first as it could cause an issue with installed/corrupt AV/security software.

      • Hi There Roy

        I have been using computers for such a long time i.e. Windows 3.0 then 3.11 and so on, so I have been round the block a couple of times.

        Just a thought on my previous machine running XP and Office 2010 I did not have the problem.

        So in my estimation it lies in a conflict between I.E. 9 and Office 2010 because all the previous versions interacted with Office 2010.

        I will address your points as raised;

        I take your point about the “specific problem”, but mine is in that particular area would you not agree ?

        I totally agree about not having to open I.E. first, but as I set my home page to “about blank” , there is nothing to load and it just sits there quietly no being asked to do anything “easy life isn’t it” ?

        I would not give Chrome houseroom nor Firefox.

        Reference Chrome, I have already tried it when it first emerged and I must say that I was not impressed, you have only got to check out the Forums to see peoples opinion I know its divided but I believe it comes down against Chrome.

        Now onto the final point;

        I must fully admit this is the first time in all the Forums where I have started tthis thread,has anybody suggested “Winsock”

        I have admin rights as I built this machine.

        I currently run Kaspersky 2013, so it was interesting to read your point about AV software, so because of that I will not go down the “Winsock” route till I hear from you or another contributor regarding problems that I / may not have.

        I look forward to your reply

        A a final word I reiteratte my final thought when I replied to this thread;

        “Just a point if the people from Microsoft monitor this site and other Forums, then why haven’t they addressed this problem before now”

        HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE before Microsoft get their software Engineers to come up with a fix once and for all ! ! ! ! ! ! !

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