How to Delete Downloads on Mac

Clear out your download history

When you download files on your Mac or MacBook, it automatically saves those files in a Downloads folder. Over time that folder can get huge and use up valuable space on your Mac. If it takes up enough space, it can affect the Mac's performance.

By default, the Downloads folder appears on the right side of the Dock near the Trash can. You can click it and drag files out of the Download folder to other locations or to the trash.

The Mac Doc showing the Documents folder

How Do I Find the Downloads Folder on a Mac?

If you removed the Downloads folder from the Dock at some point, either on purpose or accidentally, you can still find it on your Mac. To locate the Downloads folder on your Mac, select Go on the Finder menu bar. The Downloads folder appears in the drop-down menu.

Finder Go menu with Downloads highlighted

The Finder is the program that is always running on your Mac. It's where your desktop is with all the icons on the desktop. If you are reading this article in a web browser such as Safari, just click the two-tone blue happy face in the Mac's dock.

How to Delete Downloaded Files on Your Mac

After you locate the Downloads folder on your MacBook, you can delete the files inside.

  1. Open the Downloads folder.

  2. Press Command+A to select all the files.

    Mac Downloads folder with all items selected
  3. Once the files are highlighted, expand the File menu at the top of the screen and select Move to Trash.

    Alternatively, use the keyboard shortcut Command+Delete.

    Finder File menu with Move to Trash selected
  4. The files are moved to the Trash can.

  5. To permanently delete the trash, click the menu labeled Finder and select Empty Trash.

    Finder menu with Empty Trash selected

    There is no "undo" from this, so make sure this is what you want to do.

Remove Traces of What You've Downloaded

You've deleted the actual files on your Mac, but you haven't removed all traces of them. If you used a web browser to download the files, there'll be history stored in the browser with that information.

Web browsers, including Safari, Googe Chrome and Firefox, keep a record of all your downloads, making it easy to find where these files are stored. The browser doesn't contain the actual downloaded files, just that you downloaded them.

Here's how to find the download history through Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox browsers.

Clearing the download history does not delete the downloaded files from your computer. Deleting the history only deletes a record of the files you downloaded. Follow the steps above to delete the actual files from your Mac.

Clear the History in the Safari Browser

  1. Open the Safari browser.

  2. Click History in the menu bar to open the browser history.

  3. Click Clear History at the bottom of the menu to wipe out the history of your downloads.

    Safari History menu with Clear History highlighted
  4. In the pop-up window, choose all history to delete it all or one of the other options to be more selective. Select Clear History one more time to complete the process.

    Clear History window with time span options displayed

Clear the History in the Chrome Browser

Here's how to find where your computer stores any files you have downloaded from Chrome.

  1. To wipe out your download history in Chrome, click the Window menu and select Downloads.

    The Chrome browser with Downloads selected in the Window menu
  2. Now tap the three dots in the upper right side of the downloads page and select Clear all.

    Chrome menu with Clear all highlighted
  3. The download history is wiped clean.

Clear the History in the Firefox Browser

Deleting your downloads history in Firefox is even easier.

  1. Open Firefox and click the Tools tab at the top of the screen and select Downloads.

    Firefox Tools menu with Downloads selected
  2. A new screen opens showing the downloads with a link to open each file. Click the Clear Downloads button to remove the downloads history.

    FIrefox Clear Downloads button
  3. To wipe out your download history in Firefox, click History > Clear Recent History.

    Firefox History menu with Clear Recent History highlighted
  4. Select a time range by clicking the drop-down menu next to Time Range to Clear to customize how far back you would like to clear.

  5. Finish by clicking OK.

    Firefox Clear Recent History options

All Clear

Remember, you need to move the files to the trash, empty the trash, and clear the history in the web browser if you want all traces of your downloads to be removed.