The Downloads Folder: What It Is and How It Works

Find your downloads whether you use Android, Windows, iOS, or macOS

The downloads folder is the location on your computer or mobile device where files, installers, and other content downloaded from the internet are placed. It may store content temporarily or permanently, depending on your preferences. This guide covers everything Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS users need to know about it, including how to find it and how to change where your downloads are stored.

Where Do I Find My Downloads Folder?

The downloads folder is a key component of any operating system, so it should be easy to locate on any device. The below instructions show how to locate it on a variety of operating systems.

Finding Downloads on Mac
You can find the Mac's Downloads folder by opening the Finder via the Dock.

Where to Find the Downloads Folder on a Mac

To find downloads on macOS, open Finder by selecting the Finder icon in the Dock. From the column on the left-hand side of the Finder window, select Downloads. You should see a list of all files downloaded to your device.

Mac computers usually also have a Downloads shortcut in the Dock. Select it to reveal recently downloaded files.

Where to Find the Downloads Folder on a PC

To open your downloads folder on a Windows 10 device, click the File Explorer icon on your taskbar, then select the Downloads folder on the left-hand side.

You can find your Downloads folder via the Windows File Explorer

The process is similar for Windows 8 and 7. With Windows 8, you have to open File Explorer, select your user folder, then select Downloads. With Windows 7, select the Start button, then select your username (usually at the top of the right-hand column of the Start menu), then select Downloads.

Where to Find the Downloads Folder on Android

Android users can access downloads via the Files app. You can find it in your device's app drawer if it's not already on the home screen. Here's how to navigate to the downloads folder through the Files app:

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of your device's home screen to access the app drawer.

  2. Select Files (or My Files on Samsung devices).

    With certain phones, this step may require selecting a sub-folder first. For example, Samsung users usually have to select the Samsung folder, and then select My Files.

  3. Select the menu icon in the top left of the screen, then select Downloads.

    You can find your Android downloads in the Files app

Selecting Downloads brings up the files you've downloaded from the internet. However, with certain apps (such as Google Play TV & Movies and WhatsApp), the files and content you download are saved directly to them, rather than the Downloads folder. As a result, you need to open them and, in most cases, open their menus or settings to access downloaded content.

Where to Find the Downloads Folder on iOS

iPhone and iPad users can find their downloads in their device's iCloud Drive. Simply tap the icon that looks like a Folder, then tap on Downloads.

You can find your downloads on iOS via the iCloud Drive

How Can I Find Downloads Using Shortcuts?

With macOS and Windows 10, it's possible to bring up your downloads folder quickly and easily using a keyboard shortcut.

Adding Downloads to the Dock
You can make opening your Downloads folder quicker by adding it to the Dock.

MacOS, users can press Command+Alt+L on the desktop to access the folder. If you press this combination on a browser such as Chrome, it opens the browser's downloads screen. Windows users can type "Downloads" into the search bar to find the folder.

It's also possible to pin the Downloads folder to the macOS dock if it isn't already pinned. Simply open a Finder window and right-click Downloads, then select Add to Dock.

Similarly, Windows 10 users can add their Downloads folder to the Start menu:

  1. Press Windows key+I to bring up the Settings menu.

  2. Select Personalization > Start > Choose which folders appear on Start.

    Use Windows Settings to put your Downloads folder on the Start menu
  3. Slide the Downloads toggle switch into the On position.

    Toggle the option to put the Downloads folder on your Start menu

How Can I Change the Download Location?

For those who have a vendetta against the downloads folder, or who simply want certain downloads to go elsewhere, it's possible to change your browser's settings so files are sent to a different location on your Mac or PC.

Changing download location
You can change the folder downloads are sent to by changing your browser settings.

On a Mac device, press Command+comma [ , ]. This brings up the Preferences/Settings screen for your browser. From there, your next steps depend on your chosen browser. Here is a specific example for Chrome:

  1. Press Command+[ , ].

  2. Scroll down and select Advanced.

  3. Scroll down to the Downloads subheading. Next to Location, select Change.

  4. Select the folder you want downloads sent to from the window that appears, such as Documents or Desktop, then choose Select.

For Windows, there's no specific shortcut that automatically opens your browser settings. Instead, you need to open them from within the browser itself. As an example, here's what to do with Firefox:

  1. Open Firefox, then open the menu using the hamburger icon in the top-right corner.

  2. Select Options.

    You can find Firefox's options under the menu.
  3. Scroll down to the Downloads subheading. Next to the Save files to option, select Browse.

    Change Firefox's download location in the general options
  4. Choose the folder you want your downloads sent to, then choose Select Folder.

  5. Select OK.

All major browsers give you the option to change where files are saved. With Firefox, you can find the Always ask me where to save files option directly below the Save files to setting. Google Chrome has the same option in its settings menu. By moving the toggle switch to the On position, you're asked where to send your downloads from that point on.