The Downloads Folder

I have used and tech supported Macs for many, many years. One of the main problem areas is the Downloads Folder. People download apps and other stuff into the Downloads Folder. When they are finished with their item they usually just leave it in the Downloads Folder. As a result, the Downloads Folder contains all kinds of junk and can become very large.

Folder Actions

Some people are just naturally efficient and keep the Downloads Folder cleaned out. However, most people don’t really give it much thought. As a result, it becomes very bloated, using valuable hard drive space. In my Tech Support days, I have cleaned out peoples Downloads Folders and recouped several gigabytes of space on their HD!

I have used a couple of different automated ways to remove things from the Downloads Folder over the years. For a while I was using something called Folder Actions in the macOS. Here is a typical definition of Folder Actions:

In a nutshell, Folder Actions are scripts that can be attached to folders. They enable events (actions) to take place when items are added or removed from that folder. Events can also occur when the folder is opened, closed or moved.

For the last few iterations of macOS these scripts are created using a very underused, but very cool app called Automator. You can find it in your Applications Folder. This is a helpful video if you desire to setup Folder Actions.


Like I said, I have used the Hazel application for many years to do stuff like this, including keeping the Downloads Folder cleaned out. Hazel can be configured to do all kinds of house cleaning on your Mac. It has some automated settings for the Downloads Folder, the Developer must realize this as a problem. Here is Hazel’s Download settings:

Incomplete Downloads and Duplicate Downloads are quite common in the Downloads Folder. So, Hazel has automatic settings for these issues.

Let me show you one of my Downloads Folder Hazel rules called Old Files:

I have set this rule up as follows. If the “Date Added” for a file is more than 3 days old, it should be moved to the Trash. So, files can sit in my Downloads Folder for 3 days, then they are history. I leave them there that long because sometimes I have to refer back to them a day or two after they are downloaded.

You can make all kinds of different rules in the Hazel App. For a little more information on it, read one of my previous articles.


It behooves you to keep your Downloads Folder cleaned out. If you feel comfortable using the Automator App, then go for it. If you want to do a lot of that kind of house cleaning, I highly recommend the Hazel App by Noodlesoft.