Everything about downloading files from the web using Power Automate

Table of Contents

Sometime ago, we wrote about downloading PDF files from the web and overcoming Power Automate’s limitations when doing do. Since then, lots have happened and evolved within the tool, and several features have been added.

The main change is that Power Automate used to have 2 recorders, one for web actions and a second one for “desktop” actions, but we now have a unified actions recorder that covers both. As a result, the process to set up an automation to download files has changed a bit.

In this post, we will cover the following scenarios:

  1. Any File downloaded directly from a link (zip, xlsx, docx, csv, pdf, etc). Example: in this web page, all the links listed are a download link that you can click on and will automatically try save the file to your PC
  1. PDF file opens in document reader and you have to click on a button to download. Example: in this web page, the “Course Guide” link will take you to a PDF file viewer, on which you can click to manually download.

In addition, we’ll go over the important question of: Where will your files be saved?

Files downloaded directly from a link or button.

This is the easy one! You’re lucky if your files are downloaded this way. All you have to do is to record the actions that will take you to the file and that will do it.

Just click on “Recorder”, start a new Chrome browser and record your actions!

Your files will be downloaded right after the download link or button is clicked.

PDF files opened inside document reader

Option 1: set up your browser to download files instead of showing the document reader.

The first option if changing the browser to set PDFs to save automatically instead of showing in Chrome reader

Both firefox and Chrome allow this change. (Steps for Firefox can be found here: https://www.thewindowsclub.com/download-pdf-instead-of-previewing-chrome-and-firefox)

Option 2. Set up some UI Automation steps to handle the “download” process

First things first, we need to record the required steps to get to our file. Once the file opens in the reader, either in the same tab or a new one, you’ll notice Power Automate doesn’t recognize the download or print icons, it only recognizes the reader a whole element.

IMPORTANT! If you have more than one monitor connected, it’s recommended for you to disconnect one of them, some bugs have been reported in recognizing desktop elements from Power Automate when more than one monitor is connected to the PC.

Once you reach the point where your file is showing in the document reader. Stop recording and go back to Power Automate.

Expand the “UI Automation” section, then “Form filling” and drag and drop to the canvas the “press button in window action”.

It will ask you which element you want to click, just click on “Add UI Element”

A small window will show up, and whenever you hover over an item in the screen, you’ll see a red square around it.

Hover over the download icon, and once the red square shows up, Left click + Crtl.

Click done and then the UI element will be selected. Just click Save.

Ok, now you have the steps for getting the file to download. In our next section we’ll talk about how to handle the location of where your files will be saved.

Where will your files save?

Browsers allows to set up a default folder to save all downloads or to ask you every time a download happens where to save – the right choice will depend on the process you want to set up.

Option 1. Define where file will be saved before downloading

This means that whenever you download anything, you’ll get the following window requesting for you to select a location for the file