How to Restrict HTML File Input to Only PDF and XLS

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By squashlabs, Last Updated: October 8, 2023

How to Restrict HTML File Input to Only PDF and XLS

To restrict the file input in HTML to only accept PDF and XLS files, you can use the accept attribute of the input element. The accept attribute specifies the types of files that the server accepts. Here are two possible ways to achieve this:

Option 1: Using MIME Types

You can specify the MIME types of the allowed file formats in the accept attribute. For accepting only PDF and XLS files, you can set the accept attribute to “application/pdf, application/vnd.ms-excel”. This will restrict the file input to only accept files with MIME types matching these values.

Example code:


It is important to note that this method relies on the client’s browser to enforce the restriction. While modern browsers generally support this feature, it is not foolproof and should not be relied upon as the sole means of validation. Server-side validation should always be performed to ensure the security and integrity of the uploaded files.

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Option 2: Using File Extensions

Another approach to restrict the file input to PDF and XLS files is by specifying the file extensions in the accept attribute. The accept attribute can take a comma-separated list of file extensions, preceded by a dot (.). For PDF and XLS files, you can set the accept attribute to “.pdf, .xls”.

Example code:


Similar to the MIME type method, relying solely on the accept attribute for validation is not recommended. Server-side validation is crucial to ensure the authenticity and safety of the uploaded files.

Best Practices

When restricting file input to specific file types, it is important to consider the following best practices:

1. Perform server-side validation: Client-side validation can be bypassed, so it is essential to validate the uploaded files on the server-side as well. This can involve checking the file extension, MIME type, and performing any additional checks needed for your application’s security requirements.

2. Provide clear error messages: If a user tries to upload a file that does not meet the specified restrictions, it is important to provide clear and concise error messages. This helps users understand why their file upload was rejected and what they need to do to rectify the issue.

3. Consider additional security measures: Restricting file types is just one aspect of ensuring the security of file uploads. Implementing measures such as file size limits, virus scanning, and secure file storage can further enhance the security of your application.

4. Test across different browsers: While most modern browsers support the accept attribute, it is crucial to test your implementation across different browsers and versions to ensure consistent behavior.

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