The ICO exists to empower you through information.

This website is run by the ICO, and this page contains assistance on using the site. This includes how to download and read documents from the site, what to do if you have problems accessing pages and how to refine results from the search function.

Viewing files

The majority of content on the ICO website is provided in the normal HTML webpage format viewable through any web browser software.

However, there is some content that is provided in non-HTML webpage format. This is so that we can provide the content in exactly the same style and appearance that is already offered through other channels.

Non-HTML webpage formats used on this site include:

Adobe Acrobat PDF format

PDF files can be read using Adobe Reader software, which is available for many different computer systems including Windows, Macintosh, Linux and Palm. Visit the Adobe website to obtain the Adobe Reader software.

Microsoft Word and Excel formats

Microsoft documents and spreadsheets can still be read even if you have not bought the commercial Word and Excel programs. Microsoft offer a range of free 'viewer' programs for download; however, these programs are only available for Windows systems. Word and Excel viewers are available from the Microsoft website.

Antiword is a free, open-source program that allows Microsoft Word documents to be opened and read on Linux and Mac OS X systems, among others. 

RTF format

RTF format is a limited-capability alternative to the Microsoft Word format. As this format is intended for use across a wide range of word processors on all computing systems, you will probably already have a text editing program capable of reading this format without having to make any additional downloads.

Please note, ICO can make no guarantees or assurances about the quality or security of any software obtained from third party sites. ICO does not endorse or support any third party product or software.

Downloading and saving files

Most files will automatically download to your computer if you click on the link to that file. Depending on your browser settings, you may be asked where you would like to save the document, or it may open automatically within the current browser window.

If you would prefer to take greater control over the downloading and saving of a document, then you can also right-click (in Windows) or control-click (on a Macintosh) on the link to the document and select the option entitled 'Save Target As', 'Save Link As' or 'Save Linked File As' (depending on your type of browser). The normal save dialog box will appear and you can choose where to store the document on your local computer.

Help with problems accessing pages

This website has been built to allow compatibility with all types of browser on any computer operating system. Although the appearance of the website will vary according to the capabilities of your system, the site itself should still work. If the site does not function properly for you, please complete our website feedback form, including your browser and operating system version so that we can investigate.

If you click on a link anywhere on the site and get an error message saying that the page you were looking for cannot be found, please complete our website feedback form to let us know where the original link was so that we can investigate the problem and fix it.

If a page persistently fails to load in your browser, it is possible that a corrupt local version of the page has been temporarily stored by your browser. You can clear this out by refreshing the page: hold down the control (or command on a Macintosh) and shift keys at the same time as clicking on the browser's refresh icon. (The refresh icon is usually shown as one or two arrows going around in a circle.)

There may be occasions when the internet itself is congested and is particularly slow displaying pages. This is outside the control of the ICO, but should be an infrequent occurrence.

Using the search function

The search function appears on every page of the ICO website. Simply typing in the word or words that you are looking for and pressing the 'Search' button will return all pages that contain that phrase.

For example, searching for the words "press release" would return all pages where "press release" occurs.


The ICO's intention is that this website should be usable and accessible to all users and conform to the guidelines for UK government websites.

If you need any help using our website, please contact the online team at [email protected].