Handling File Upload in Spring MVC Application

Any typical web application requires a file upload functionality which enable users to upload certain files like an image or a document. Such files are encoded as multipart form data rather than simple text. To handle file uploads in a Spring MVC application we need to configure a multipart resolver so that DispatcherServlet can identify and read multipart requests.

Configuring Multipart Resolver

Spring provides two out-of-box implementation of MultipartResolver:

  • StandardServletMultipartResolver - Uses Servlet 3.0 support for file upload. (for Servlet 3.0 post 3.0 containers.)
  • CommonsMultipartResolver - Uses Jakarta Commons File Upload (for pre Servlet 3.0 containers.)


To use StandardServletMultipartResolver in our application we simply need to declare it as a Spring bean.

public StandardServletMultipartResolver multipartResolver(){
    return new StandardServletMultipartResolver();

Other configuration of multipart details like, the temporary folder when the file should be placed when being uploaded or the maximum file size etc. are to be done as part of DispatcherServlet configuration, in the web.xml or the ServletInitializer class. For JavaConfig based application we need to override the customizeRegistration() method of AbstractAnnotationConfigDispatcherServletInitializer class in our application initializer class as shown below:

protected void customizeRegistration(Dynamic registration) {
    registration.setMultipartConfig(new MultipartConfigElement("/tmp/uploads"));

Here we specified the temporary folder path to store the file when being uploaded. We can use other constructors of MultipartConfigElement to specify other information like maxFileSize, etc. In this case the maxFileSize will be unlimited (as unspecified).

Shown below is the configuration using web.xml


The max-file-size of 1MB is specified (1024 X 1024 bytes).


CommonsMultipartResolver can be used in a similar way as we used StandardServletMultipartResolver. However in this case we need not necessarily specify a temporary upload location. The servlet container’s temporary directory is treated as a default temporary upload directory. However we can specify a different directory if required.

CommonsMultipartresolver can be declared as a Spring bean as follows:

public MultipartResolver multipartResolver() throws IOException {
    CommonsMultipartResolver multipartResolver = new CommonsMultipartResolver();
    /** Additional Configuration **/
    multipartResolver.setUploadTempDir(new FileSystemResource("/tmp/uploads"));
    return multipartResolver;

Handling Multipart Request

Before we can accept multipart request in the Spring MVC controller we need to specify certain attributes in the html form tag which we use to submit multipart data. We need to set the ‘enctype’ (encryption type) attribute of the form tag to ‘multipart/form-data’. This tells the browser to submit the form data as multipart data.

<form action="upload" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data">
    <label>Upload Pic</label>
    <input type="file" name="picture" accept="image/png">
    <input type="submit" value="Submit">

Notice the use of accept attribute in the input tag, it is used to restrict the type of files that can be uploaded using this form, a png image in this case.

Now it's time to handle the multipart request at the Spring MVC controller end. To do so we need to annotate the controller method parameter with @RequestPart.

@RequestMapping(value="upload", method=RequestMethod.POST)
public String sayHello(@RequestPart("picture") MultipartFile picture) throws IOException{
    picture.transferTo(new File("/tmp/uploads/"+picture.getOriginalFilename()));
    System.out.println("Uploaded File Details:");
    System.out.println("FileName: "+ picture.getOriginalFilename());
    System.out.println("Size: "+ picture.getSize() +" bytes");
    System.out.println("Content Type: "+ picture.getContentType());
    System.out.println("Multipart name: "+ picture.getName());
    return "success";

We received the multipart data as a MultipartFile. Spring provides a MultipartFile object to ease processing of multipart data. The MultipartFile defines many methods that can be used to process multipart data. One such method is transferTo() which can be used to conveniently transfer the multipart file to a specific location in the file system. Some other useful method of the MultipartFile is shown above in the example code.

Download Source Code

You can download the source code of the example application discussed in this article. The source code below uses StandardServletMultipartResolver.


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