downloads folder

Sometimes, the most simple and obvious tips are the best. Everybody knows about them because they’re usually based on good old common sense, yet, we usually forget about them. One such tip is to periodically clean up the Downloads folder of your Mac, which, depending on your setup and habits, could quickly go out of control.

The Downloads folder is the default location where any file you download from the internet is saved. Downloading the PDF of your bank statement? It’s downloaded to the Downloads folder. Downloading a song from an unofficial source? It’s most likely going to the Downloads folder.

Most apps you use to download files from the internet use the Downloads folder as a default location. Of course, this can be changed in the Preferences of each app. For example, I use Firefox (don’t judge!) and I have set it to ask me where to download files instead of downloading them automatically to a set location. You can also instruct Safari and virtually every other app you use to download content to save files to a specific locations, but this is beyond the scope of this post.

This being said, let me make this the final reminder that you should check out your Downloads folder from time to time – you’ll likely be surprised at the amount of stuff you have in there, which can really add up.

I recently went through the Downloads folder of my MacBook Air and found a few hundred photos and videos that were taking several gigabytes of space on my drive. As it turns out, my wife had been downloading all these photos and videos without even realizing it. As much as I like to have tons of photos and videos of my kids on my computer, it’s sometimes a good idea to do a little spring cleaning, especially if you’re limited in terms of storage space, as I am on my laptop.

On my iMac, I periodically go through the Downloads folder to see what’s in there and what can be deleted. 99% of the files in there are deleted right away because I have absolutely no use for them. Rarely, I will find a file that I actually need, or will need in the future, so I just move it to a safe location in my Documents.

After deleting files from the Downloads folder, make sure to empty the Trash, or else the deleted files will still be on your computer, and still eating up storage space for nothing.

At the end of the day, I see the Downloads folder as a temporary space where files sometimes get downloaded to. I like to keep things in order, so cleaning up this folder is a recurring task that not only allows me to save storage space by deleting files I don’t need, but it’s also a good way to organize the files I do need.

Now do yourself a favor and go check out that Downloads folder of yours. Do a little cleaning and come back here to let us know how much storage space you were able to save.

Other ways to save storage space on your Mac

  • HaakonHoelB

    Hazel can help organizing all of your folders including your Downloads folder.
    Great app.

    • Tim Farris

      how can i get that

  • Jake Rogers

    Delete installers for installed apps.

  • nazcorp

    Also keep in mind that Time Machine backs this up. Be sure to spring clean your TM backup drive, by navigating to the Downloads folder and you can select to delete all items from all backups, saving GBs of space on your backup volume as well.

  • I personal find that the best way to re-gain storage space is with the app Daisy Disk. This app has allowed me to clear so much junk off my MacBook…

  • Abdulla Hussain

    Ccleaner might help as well …

    • Not for big files. It’ll clean caches but you won’t regain gigabytes of space…

  • Rares

    Or you can just buy a windows computer.

    • Which’ll use twice as much storage space and have mandatory patches every week for its many flaws some of which break your system due to poor testing of updates before publishing them…

      • Rares

        Maybe, I don’t know, I use a windows pc and I have no problems with it, I install every single update and everything works flawless, it performs better than my brother’s iMac 2011 and I also have no problems with the storage.

      • So you’re telling me it doesn’t bother you how large the OS is? Try installing Windows 7 or 8 onto any new computer, connect it to the Internet and just sit back and watch how many updates you have to download and install…

      • Rares

        There are delta updates too and the old one that are now useless are deleted by the OS

    • DogeCoin

      Windows with out bloat is about 30GB (but fully patched and set up). a fresh MacOSX install is around 28GB. a macOSX install can be slimmed down to about 12GB. A bloated Linux install is about 6GB. a decent linux install is about 2GB. a small is 1GB. a slim is 1/2GB. a micro is 15MB. Windows is the largest of all OSes.

  • Geert Cuppens

    Running TimeMachine backups? Then do this: “sudo tmutil disablelocal” in a terminal window. Wait a bit for the ~.MobileBackups directory to be deleted and you’ll have HEAPS of free space. You must rely then on your TimeMachine backups, and won’t have any backups ‘on the road’ aka ‘OSX can’t find the TimeMachine backup network’…

  • TotallySerious

    Lol I still have the original downloads stack on my dock; I cant stand to see it filled up with unnecessary files

  • Guest

    Just went to look at my storage. It’s amazing that my Macbook Air 256gb has 5tb of movies. This has been happening from time to time on Yosemite.

  • dpacemaker

    Went and looked at my storage for my Macbook Air 256gb hard drive. It’s amazing how I have 5tb of movies on it. This happens from time to time on Yosemite.

  • Donald Kepler

    Nice article. Stellar Speed Mac also works well to give a rapid speed to Mac

  • [RECON1]

    I’m new to using a Mac. Can I delete the .dmg files and applications that I’ve already installed? Like I have the Spotify Installer showing there, but it’s already been installed.