Managing Your Downloads Folder

One fairly consistent thing I see when helping people with their Macs is overflowing Downloads folders. There is so much stuff in their they cannot find anything. Some people just store stuff in their Downloads folder which is the opposite of efficient. There are some things you can do to manage the Downloads folder better.

Downloads Help

One easy way to manage your Downloads folder is to change a setting in the Safari web browser.1 Go into the Safari Preferences area and click on the General Tab.

Once in this area, click on the File download location dropdown menu.

Now, select “Ask for each download” in this menu. When you download a file in Safari, you will be asked to place the file in a specific location during the download instead of waiting to later. This setting forces you to save the file in a logical location depending on what it is you are downloading. Here is what that looks like.

You can navigate to wherever on your Mac to save the file. Of course, you can still place the file in the Downloads folder as a temporary storage location until you have time to deal with it.

I deal with my downloads a little differently. I use an App called Hazel to manage my Downloads folder. Here is a rule I created in Hazel to manage my downloads.

Obviously, you can set the duration longer or shorter if you wish. When I download a file to my Downloads folder, I always deal with it in short order. If there is something left over in the Downloads folder after I am finished with the file, then Hazel will take care of cleaning it up. There may be other third-party Apps that have this kind of feature, but Hazel is the best as far as I am concerned.


No matter how you decide to manage your downloads, they definitely need to be managed. It is a total pain to try to find things in your Downloads folder when you really need to get work done.

  1. I am sure you can adjust this setting in other web browsers as well.