How to Delete Downloads on Mac (Automatically & Manually)

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How to Delete Downloads on Mac

Are you a new Mac user who wants to learn how to delete downloads on Mac? If yes, this article is just for you. Many individuals want to learn this process and get their Macs back on the proper performance level.

One of the main reasons for people to opt for Macs is uncompromised speed. However, you cannot expect the maximum amount of speed unless you maintain it properly. There are various tips and tricks to keep your Mac working at its top speed.

One of the most widely used and effective ways to maintain your Mac’s optimal speed is proper space management.

That means you have to get rid of unwanted files promptly to maintain their speed. Otherwise, the limited space of the Mac can be filled with unnecessary files and cause it to run slower. This is particularly true regarding the ‘Downloads’ folder of your Mac.

If you don’t take care of the ‘Downloads’ folder properly, it will become a mess eventually. Once the ‘Downloads’ folder is filled, you will be notified that you cannot download files anymore.

Also, the system will become noticeably slow. So, if you wonder how to delete downloads on Mac and get the speed back, keep reading.

What Does ‘My Downloads Folder’ Contain?

Before learning how to delete downloads on Mac, it is better to get a general idea about it. The ‘Downloads’ folder is the destination where the files you download from the internet are saved by default.

In other words, all the files you download from the internet go to the ‘Downloads’ folder. Pictures, PDF, music, movies, apps, attachments, and anything else you download go in the ‘Downloads’ folder.

This folder is allocated to save downloaded files by default. As time goes by and you download files every day, this folder will get filled.

Besides, here, learn more about how to fix the Mac keeps crashing issue.

downloads folder on mac

How to Delete Downloads on Mac

Let’s get into the real question here. How to delete downloads on Mac? The good news is that this section provides six methods to do it.

All six methods mentioned here are manual ways so they can become somewhat difficult for beginners.

Method 01: Use ‘Finder’ to Delete Downloads

One of the popular ways to delete downloads on Mac is through the ‘Finder’ option. Mentioned below are the steps to follow.

  • Select the option called the ‘Finder‘ located on the menu bar (towards the top of the Mac’s screen).
  • Select go, and it will display a drop-down with several options.
  • From the options displayed, choose ‘Downloads.’
  • You will be able to see all the downloaded files saved within the ‘Downloads‘ folder. If necessary, you can re-arrange the files depending on the size to delete the heavier files first.
  • Now, choose the files that should be gone. You can choose all the files at once simply using Command + A keys. Then, drag all those files into the Trash Can.
delete downloads on mac manually

If you use a Mac with macOS 10.6 or a newer version, you can jump into Method 03.

Method 02: Use ‘Terminal’ to Delete Downloads

Terminal‘ is another path you can use to access the ‘Downloads’ folder and delete the contents. Although it is a tricky option, the following steps will take you there comfortably.

  • First of all, you should move the targeted files to the desktop so you will access them easily.
  • Go to the ‘Utilities‘ or ‘Applications‘ folder and then go to ‘Terminal.’
  • When you are in the ‘Terminal,’ you are required to type the text ‘cd~/Desktop.’ You are now guided to the desktop.
  • Type in ‘rm‘ followed by the file name to delete it. If you type ‘rm fly.jpeg,’ it will delete the file named ‘fly.jpeg,’ for instance.
delete downloads with terminal

Method 03: Use the ‘Go Menu’ to Delete Downloads

This is another file that can allow you to delete ‘Downloads.’ Here are the steps to achieve that.

  • First, you should access the option ‘Finder‘ (you can repeat the steps mentioned in Method 01).
  • Click on the option ‘Go Menu.’
  • Select the option called ‘Go To folder.’ This will prompt a window.
  • Then, type in ~/Downloads within the window. You will then be guided into the download folder, and you can delete any file.
Goto Downloads Folder

Please note that this method only works for macOS 10.2 or newer.

Method 04: Use Browser to Delete Downloads

If you want to know how to delete downloads on Mac using a browser, follow the below steps. Please note that the method will slightly differ depending on the browser you are using. Mentioned below are the steps to do it.

For Chrome

  • Launch the Google Chrome browser on your Mac.
  • Click on the ‘Menu‘ icon (three horizontal lines) at the top-right corner.
  • Then, find the ‘Downloads‘ button and click on it.
  • Just click on the ‘Clear all‘ option so the downloaded files will be deleted.
clear Chrome downloads on mac

For Safari

  • Launch the Safari browser on your Mac.
  • Locate the gear icon on the menu bar and click it.
  • Go to the ‘Downloads‘ option on the next tab.
  • Click on the button labeled ‘Clear,’ and the downloaded files will disappear.
clear Safari downloads on mac

For Firefox

  • Launch the Firefox browser on Mac.
  • Click the ‘Firefox‘ button to open the menu (top-left corner).
  • Go to ‘Downloads.’
  • Click on ‘Clear List‘ so the downloads on the Firefox browser will be deleted.
clear firefox downloads on mac

For Opera

  • Launch the Opera browser.
  • Click on the three-dotted icon (top-right corner).
  • Choose the option labeled ‘Downloads‘ and hit delete.
Clear downloads on Opera

Method 05: Delete the Downloads using the Email Account

There is no shortage of occasions in which we receive attachments that should be downloaded before opening. Over time, these attachments can consume a considerable amount of space on your hard disk.

Interestingly, users don’t need most of these attachments on their hard disks. So, learning how to delete those mail attachments is important for you.

Mentioned below are the steps to do it.

  • Go to Spotlight, which is located in the menu bar.
  • Type in the text ‘Mail Downloads‘ in the search bar. Then, click on the folder to get it opened.
  • Now, you will see a list of files saved from your email.
  • You can select the files you intend to delete and then just delete them.
clear mail downloads

Method 06: Delete the Downloads in the Software

In certain cases, apps such as µTorrent and Skype aren’t getting downloaded to the local download folder. Deleting those files can be somewhat trickier. Mentioned below are the steps to do it.

For Skype

  • Open the Skype app on your Mac.
  • Choose the option called ‘Preferences.’
  • In a separate window, you will see the download location related to all the Skype files.
  • Open the folder and delete the files you want to get rid of.

for µTorrent

  • Launch µTorrent.
  • Go to the option called preferences.
  • Choose the directories to see the download location.
  • Delete the files.
Delete the Downloads in the Software

What if You Have Accidentally Deleted Important Files?

If you have deleted an important file or multiple files by accident, what can you do about it? Are they gone forever? Or is there a way to get them back?

The good news is a way to get the deleted files back. There are two ways to get deleted files back on your Mac.

Use Trash

If the files are deleted normally, recovering them is easier. Normal deletion sends the deleted files to the trash instead of erasing them from the Mac. To recover the files, you should go to the trash folder and retrieve the deleted file once again.

Beside, learn more about how to force empty trash on Mac.

Use Time Machine

If you are creating backups as a habit, you are very lucky when recovering deleted files. You can conveniently access Time Machine on your Mac and recover the deleted files from the utility.

Use Time Machine

As you would notice, manual deletion of files can erase important files. Also, you are required to spend extra time recovering those files. If you intend to avoid such mistakes, we highly recommend using CleanMyMac, a professional software.


1. Will deleting downloads affect my installed applications? No, deleting files from your downloads folder will not affect your installed applications. Only files stored in the applications folder or related directories are necessary for app functionality.

2. Can I delete downloads that I haven’t opened yet? Yes, you can delete downloads that you haven’t opened yet. If you no longer need those files, it’s safe to remove them from your downloads folder.

3. Are deleted downloads permanently erased from my Mac? When you delete files from your Mac, they are moved to the trash bin. To permanently erase them from your Mac, you need to empty the trash bin.

4. Can I recover files that were deleted a long time ago? Files that have been permanently deleted from the trash bin are challenging to recover. It’s best to regularly review your downloads and move important files to a secure location.

5. Are there any risks associated with automating download cleanup? Automating download cleanup can be convenient, but it’s essential to double-check the files before they are permanently deleted. Ensure that the automation criteria match your requirements accurately.


So, that’s how to delete downloads on Mac using different methods. As you noticed, the manual method requires you to engage in a lengthy process that consumes time. Also, it lets you do a lot of guesswork.

However, if you use a tool like CleanMyMac, things can be easier. It identifies the junk files automatically and deletes them to free up space and optimize Mac’s performance. So, CleanMyMac is a very handy, powerful tool that can save time.


Ten years of experience in information and computer technology. Passionate about electronic devices, smartphones, computers, and modern technology.

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