Clean up your Downloads folder to regain storage space on your Mac

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