How to delete unneeded downloads on Mac

4 min read

Knowing how to clear downloads on your Mac comes in handy when you’re running out of space on your Mac. 

Forgotten downloads tend to store on your device, consuming valuable GBs of storage space and causing Mac to slow down over time. Time to put an end to it! This article will show you trouble-free pathways to an insanely clean Mac. Let’s get down to it. 

Locate your Downloads folder

When it comes to your Downloads folder, for many people, it's the classic case, of out of sight, out of mind. Because it's nestled away, many people, including myself, often forget about all the files and folders lurking there.

First, follow instructions on how to locate your Downloads folder:

Downloads folder

  1. Open a new Finder Window.

  2. From the left sidebar, select Downloads.

Removing your old downloads can increase available space and give your system a slight performance boost. But so many of us fear deleting items like .dmg files from our Downloads folder, thinking that certain apps might crash. The good news is that if you've successfully installed an app, then the .dmg container files can be safely removed. 

Now, let's take a closer look at how to remove downloads from your Mac.

How to delete a download on Mac?

After locating your Downloads folder, try these methods to manage, organize and remove unneeded items.

How to clear downloads automatically

The most painless and effortless way to remove downloads is with an Apple notarized tool, CleanMyMac X

This handy tool comes with a Large & Old Files Module, which scans your Mac instantly. After Scan is completed, it locats and organizes all of your files for inspection and complete removal. There’re a few reasons why I’m a fan of this particular method vs the manual one:

  • Removes files and folders, leaving no digital debris behind.
  • Allows viewing all your files in one place with the ability to sort them by kind, size, or last accessed date.
  • Saves time and space automatically searching your Mac for forgotten files, folders, and applications.

Here's how to remove your downloads the easy way:

One year ago information in LAOF module CMMX

  1. Open the application—download the free version here.

  2. Select Large & Old Files from the sidebar.

  3. Press Scan.

  4. Sort through your files, select any unrequired files, and press Remove.

Third-party tools aren't for everyone, and that's no problem. Let's now check out the manual options.

How to clear downloads manually

If you'd prefer to delete your downloads manually, there’re a couple of options here. See them below.

Removing downloads manually

  1. Open Finder and select Downloads.

  2. Use the sort icon from the top to organize your files by type.

  3. Search through your files, choose items you want to remove, and drag them to the Trash.

  4. Empty your Trash once complete.

If your goal was learning how to delete multiple downloads on Mac, here’s what you should do:  

  • Go to the Downloads folder. 

  • Press and hold down the Command-Shift keys and select all the items you want to remove. Then drag them to the Trash. 

If you're removing applications and old .dmg files, simply dragging them to your Trash doesn't remove all traces. I suggest using CleanMyMac X to ensure all debris is properly removed. 

Another way how to uninstall downloads on your Mac is with Apple's built-in storage management tool. Follow this instruction:

Storage Management

  1. Open the main Apple menu > About This Mac > Storage > Manage.

  2. From the sidebar, select Documents, then press the Downloads tab.

  3. Select several items by pressing and holding down Command-Shift while you select items.

  4. Press Delete to remove selected items.

This method instantly removes items. But make sure you've selected only the items you want to remove permanently, as you won't be able to recover them once you've hit the delete button.

Now you've deleted your downloads, let's look at removing browser traces.

How to remove your browser download history

Removing downloads from your Mac is one thing, but if you want to remove all traces at once, you'll need to clear your browser history that stores information on your downloads.

How to clear your download traces on Chrome:

Removing Chrome downloads

  1. Open Chrome and select Window > Downloads from the top menu.

  2. Select the three dots, and select Clear All.

How to clear your download history from Safari:

Removing Safari downloads

  1. Open Safari, and select the Safari menu > Clear History.

  2. From the drop-down, select All History.

  3. Press Clear History.

How to clear your download history from Firefox:

Removing Firefox downloads

  1. Open Firefox, from the top menu select Tools > Downloads.

  2. Select Downloads from the sidebar and press the Clear Downloads button.

Finally, I’d like to share my bonus tips on how to clear downloads on your Mac. 

Space-saving tips for your Mac

Declutter your Desktop

Take a moment to audit what’s hanging around on your Desktop, dragging those useless files to the Trash.

Using desktop stacks

Keep your Desktop organized by enabling Stacks, and here's how: right-click anywhere on your Desktop, and select Use Stacks from the menu.

Enable Apple's storage optimization recommendations

Another cool hack to keep your Mac optimized is by enabling Apple's storage optimization recommendations. Just follow these three simple steps:

Apple's recommendations

  1. Select the main Apple menu > About This Mac > Storage > Manage.

  2. Select Recommendations from the sidebar.

  3. Enable the recommendations by following the on-screen instructions for each one.

Remove unused apps

Applications can take up a large amount of space on your Mac, so if you're not using them, remove them ASAP! See instructions below.

Applications folder

  1. Open Finder and select Applications from the sidebar.

  2. Select applications you no longer need and drag them to the Trash.

  3. Empty your Trash afterward.

We've reached the end. Now you’re well-informed on how to remove downloads from your Mac along with downloads history and have some other Mac decluttering hacks up your sleeve. Stay tuned!

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