How to fix Safari not downloading files on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

You may, at times, encounter an issue where Safari refuses to download photos, videos, audio, PDFs, documents, and other files from a website. In this article, we’ll explore common reasons why Safari may not be downloading files on iPhone, iPad, or Mac and provide solutions to help you get back to downloading with ease.

List of Safari downloads on iPhone

The issues you may be facing

  • Clicking the download link opens a new blank tab, and no file download starts.
  • Safari is refusing to begin file downloads from one or all sites.
  • File download starts, but it fails immediately in a second or two.
  • The download happens up to a point and then fails midway or just before completing.
  • Safari downloads a file but opens it and then deletes the original files (this happens with ZIP and other compressed files).

The solutions below should help fix all the above issues and also ones similar to them.

Before you begin

It’s possible that you’re not following the right steps to download the file. On Mac, it’s super easy, but on iPhone and iPad, downloading files may not be as obvious. With that said, even if the file has been downloaded, you may not know where it’s saved and how to find it. So, look at these tutorials, if needed:

Retry the download

In many cases, initiating the download again does the trick. Try hitting the download link again, and it should work. If not, refresh the webpage and click the download button again.

Note: Some websites put downloads behind a login wall. So, make sure to honor that.

Pause and resume the download

The download may look like it has started, but it will pause or fail in a few seconds. If that happens, hit the tiny retry button a few times, and it should start the download. If not, hit the download link again on the website.

Check your internet

Make sure your iPhone, iPad, or Mac is connected to a stable Wi-Fi, Cellular Data, or Ethernet connection and the internet is working properly.

Some useful tips

  • Turn off VPN if you’re using one.
  • Restart your Wi-Fi router.

Troubleshooting internet problems

Allow the website to download files

When you try to download a file from a website for the first time, it doesn’t start immediately. Instead, you will see an alert asking your permission to allow this site to download and save files locally or not. Make sure you allow that. If you choose to block the download, follow these steps to fix it:

On iPhone and iPad: Hit the download link again on the website and tap Allow or Download when asked. If you don’t see the Allow button, clear your browser data.

Allow and Download popup alert in Safari before downloading a file

On Mac: Open Safari and click Safari > Settings from the top menu bar. Now, go to Websites > Downloads > click the drop-down menu next to the website name and choose Allow. While you’re here, also make sure it says ‘Ask‘ or ‘Allow‘ next to ‘When visiting other websites.’

Allow websites to download files in Safari on Mac

Force Quit and reopen Safari

On iPhone and iPad: Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and hold or double-press the Home button to enter App Switcher. From here, drag the Safari app card all the way up to close it.

On Mac: Save your work in any other open Safari tabs. Next, click the Apple icon  and choose Force Quit. Here, select Safari and click Force Quit.

Now reopen Safari and try downloading the file again.

Use alternate download links

You may see more than one download link on a website. If one link fails to work, try the other one. Note: Sometimes, picking a different download quality (for a video, audio, or image) should do the trick.

Choose different download quality for image, video, and audio
Choose another download quality for image, video, or audio.

Set Safari download location to anything other than iCloud Drive

If you have set Safari to download files to iCloud Drive, switch it to any other local storage folder using the steps below:

On iPhone or iPad: Settings > Safari > Downloads > On My iPhone or Other.

On Mac: Open Safari and click Safari > Settings from the top menu bar. From the General section, select Downloads, Desktop, or any local folder next to ‘File download location.’

File download location in Safari on Mac

Stop Safari from automatically opening files after download

By default, Safari on Mac is set to open files after downloading them. That means if you download a ZIP file, Safari will automatically unzip it after downloading. In rare cases, this may cause the download to fail, not complete successfully, or not even start in the first place if the file you’re trying to download is incompatible. Therefore, it’s best to turn it off from Safari Settings > General > uncheck ‘Open “safe” files after downloading.’

Restart your device

If Safari is unable to download files due to minor glitches, save your work and do a restart.

Make sure your device has sufficient free space

New file downloads will only succeed if your iPhone, iPad, or Mac has enough free space. So go to Settings, and check how much free storage you have. If it’s full, use these tutorials to free up space:

Clear Safari history and cache

One of the most reliable solutions to fix Safari issues is clearing its history and website data.

On iPhone and iPad, you can do this from Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data.

On Mac, click History from the top menu bar and select Clear History.

Try disabling a recently installed Safari extension

If you could download files earlier but can’t after installing an extension, then that extension is likely the culprit. Remove it, restart your device, and now you should have no problem downloading files.

On iPhone and iPad: Head over to this guide on installing and removing Safari extensions.

On Mac: Go to Safari Settings > Extensions > select the extension and click Uninstall.

Uninstall extension from Safari on Mac

Update Safari

Safari updates are tied to system updates on iPhone and iPad. So, go to Settings app > General > Software Update and get the latest version of the operating system.

On Mac, you can update Safari from System Settings.

Update your Mac

If you’re on an older version of macOS, consider updating to the latest version, which should improve your computer’s overall working and stability.

On macOS Ventura and later, go to System Settings > General > Software Update. And on macOS Monterey and earlier, go to System Preferences > Software Update.