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I have users that have read only access to some excel files in SharePoint. When they try to open it in IE, it opens from the server in read only mode. I need them to be able to download the files and edit a local copy on their machine.

I currently have SharePoint Online and it is a modern document library. I have a link on a SitePage that they click to access it.

Is there a way to force IE to download a copy rather than open from server?

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To quote this article:

Have you checked this documentation: Configure the default open behavior for browser-enabled documents (Office Web Apps)

You can either disable the Excel Services Application for all site collection in the central administration (Service Applications under APplication Managemend) , or you can disable the Web Access via Feature/Powershell explained in the above article.

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