Mac Performance

How to Delete Downloads on a Mac and Get Extra Space

If you regularly download content from the web to your Mac, you may find that your precious storage space can quickly get eaten up by files — some of which you may not use or need anymore. Images, videos, audio files, and app installers in particular can take up a big chunk of your Mac's storage drive over time, and it's surprisingly easy to forget that many of them are still lurking in your Downloads folder.


Deleting downloads on Mac that you no longer need can free up that space, giving you the storage you need to backup more photos, install more apps, and save more documents. In this guide, we'll show you how to quickly find and organize your downloads, identify those you no longer need, and remove them all in just a few clicks.


Before we start

If you want to free up extra storage on your Mac, consider downloading MacKeeper. MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup feature can help you find the unneeded junk files in your system and then clean them up in a single click. If you’re short on disk space, this feature could free up plenty of disk space without you having to get rid of any of your personal files.

How to find downloads on Mac

By default, anything you download to your Mac from the web will end up in your Downloads folder. You can find this on the right side of your Dock, next to the trash can, or in the sidebar within Finder, beneath Applications and Desktop. If you've previously changed where your downloads are saved and now you cannot remember where they are, you can open the preferences menu in your web browser to find it.


Here's how to do that in Safari:

  1. Open Safari, then click Safari in your Mac's menu bar
  2. Click Preferences —then click the General tab
  3. Refer to File download location to see where your downloads are being saved
File download location in Safari

Here's how to find your downloads folder in Google Chrome:

  1. Open Chrome, then click Chrome in your Mac's menu bar
  2. Click Preferences
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and then click Advanced
  4. Under Downloads, refer to Location to see where downloads are being saved
Files download location in Chrome

How to organize your downloads on Mac

Once you've located and opened your Downloads folder, it's a good idea to sort it. This will make it easier to identify the files you wish to keep, those you wish to download, and those that are taking up the most storage space. We recommend sorting your files by size first.  


To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click inside your Downloads folder
  2. Select Sort By, then choose Size
Sort files by size

The biggest files will now appear first. It's easier to view them and organize them when they appear in a list, rather than as icons.  


To change your folder view, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click inside your Downloads folder
  2. Select View, then choose As List


You should now see exactly how much space each file is taking up under the Size column in the Downloads folder. It's best to target the largest files — those taking up the most storage — first because it's quicker to free up space that way. However, you may also want to sort your files by date. This will make it easier to find old downloads that you might not need anymore.  


To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click inside your Downloads folder
  2. Select Sort By, then choose Date Added
Sort files by date

How to clear downloads on Mac

Once you have sorted your Downloads folder and identified the files you no longer need anymore, it's time to start removing downloads from your Mac. You can do this by right-clicking each file individually and then selecting Move to Bin or Move to Trash, but if you have multiple files you need to clear, there are easier ways to do that.


To select and delete multiple files at once, follow these steps:

  1. Hold down the Command key on your Mac's keyboard
  2. Left-click every file in your Downloads folder that you want to delete
  3. Release the Command key, right-click, then select Move to Bin or Move to Trash
Move files to Trash

If you have moved any files you want to keep out of your Downloads folder and you want to delete everything that remains, you can select and delete all downloads quickly by following these steps:

  1. Hold down the Command key on your Mac's keyboard, then press the A key to select all files
  2. Right-click, then select Move to Bin or Move to Trash

Only use this option once you are sure that you want to delete all downloads on your Mac.


You have now removed the downloads you don't want from their save location, but you haven't actually wiped them from your Mac just yet, so they're still taking up storage space. To eliminate them for good, you'll need to empty the bin or trash can by following these steps:

  1. Right-click the bin or trash can in your Mac's Dock
  2. Select Empty Bin or Empty Trash Can

You're all done — the files are gone and the storage space they were taking up is now free. Note that you can do a lot of this more quickly using a Mac cleaning app like MacKeeper. 

An alternative

There is another way to remove downloads and other files taking up space on your Mac. Some users may find this method simpler, so we've included it in this guide just in case:

about this Mac Storage tab
  1. Click the Apple logo in your Mac's menu bar
  2. Select About This Mac, then click the Storage tab
  3. Click Manage
  4. Select Documents in the sidebar to see what's taking up space on your Mac
  5. Click the Downloads tab if you want to focus on downloaded files specifically
  6. Click any files you want to remove, then click Delete
  7. To remove multiple files in one go, hold down the Command key on your Mac's  keyboard while you select them with your mouse, then click Delete
  8. Confirm this action by clicking the Delete button when prompted
Delete files on Mac

This method doesn't send files to the bin or trash can before they are removed — they are immediately wiped from your Mac's storage drive. Bear this in mind when selecting files for deletion because there's no easy way to recover them once they're gone.


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