How to Delete Downloads on Mac

Clear out your download history

An illustration of a trashcan formed with lines of light.

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Whenever you download files on your Mac or MacBook, it automatically saves those files in a download folder. Over time that folder can get huge and use up valuable space on your Mac's storage device. If that folder takes up enough space, it can begin to impact your Mac's performance.

But if you're having trouble finding where your MacBook stores these files, keep reading to learn how to discover where these files are stored on your computer.

How Do I Find the Downloads Folder on a Mac?

The easiest way to find the Downloads folder on your Mac is, in the Finder, select Downloads from the Go menu. The Downloads folder should now appear (it'll say Downloads at the top of the window).

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 (like Safari), just click the two-tone blue happy face in your Mac's dock (likely at the bottom of the screen).

How Delete Downloaded Files on Your Mac

Once you have located where your files are stored on your MacBook, you can now delete them.

  1. Open the Downloads folder.

  2. Hold the Command Key + A to select all the files.

  3. Once the files are highlighted, go to File at the top left side of the screen, and click Move to Trash.

    Screenshot of files selected and using File > Move to Trash.
  4. The files will be moved to your Trash can.

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

    Screeshot of Empty Trash on MacBook.

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

Remove Traces of What You've Downloaded

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

Web browsers, including Safari, Googe Chrome or Firefox, keep a record of all of your downloads, making it easy to find where these files are stored. However, it's important to understand that the browser does not contain the actual downloaded files just that you've 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 will only delete a record of the files you have downloaded. Follow the steps above to delete the actual files from your Mac.

Clear the History in the Safari Browser

  1. To wipe out the download history in Safari, click the History menu to open History.

    Screenshot of Safari download history.
  2. Click Clear History at the bottom of the menu to wipe out the history of your downloads.

There will be a subsequent window that pop ups that asks what time range you'd like to use. Select the time period you'd like to erase.

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.

  2. Now tap the three dots in the upper right side of the downloads page and select Clear all.

    Screenshot of Chrome page to clear downloads.
  3. Click Clear All and the download history will be 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.

    Screenshot of Firefox to find downloads under Tools.
  2. A new screen will open showing you the downloads, with a link to open each file. Just click the Clear Downloads button to remove your downloads history.

    Screenshot of Firefox downloads.
  3. To wipe out your download history in Firefox, click Library > History > Clear >History.

  4. You can select a time range by clicking the drop-down menu next to Time Range to customize how far back you would like to clear.

  5. Finish by clicking Clear Now.

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 what you've downloaded to be removed.