Safari 5: Managing Files with the Downloads Popover

One of the features in Lion’s version of Safari 5 that has gotten, shall we say, mixed reviews is the Downloads Popover. I happen to think it’s pretty neat, but then again, I always hated the old downloads window. I’m a weirdo like that. In this article, we’re going to go over all of the things you can do with that tiny little button in order to manage your downloads more effectively. You won’t miss that ugly old window after this, I swear.

So to help me keep that promise, open Safari and click on the button to see your list of previously downloaded items (or hit Option-Command-L to bring it up). If you’ve cleared the list or haven’t ever downloaded anything in Safari, you won’t see that button at all (and the keyboard shortcut’ll give you a big bag of nothing), so go find something to download if that’s where you’re at. 

The menu itself isn’t very complicated, as you can see. If you double-click on any item in the list, you’ll open the file in its default program or mount it if it’s a disk image, for example. There’s a Clear button to wipe out the history of what you’ve downloaded (good for some of my naughtier readers, right?). You’ll also notice a little magnifying glass next to each entry, which’ll take you right to the chosen file in the Finder.

There are a couple of helpful options that aren’t so easy to see, though. Firstly, as TMO’s eminent and brilliant John Martellaro already noted, you can drag the icon for any item from that list to put the file somewhere else, like on your Desktop.

Look, ma! I’m dragging! I’m dragging!


Secondly, if you right- or Control-click on one of the files, you’ll get a handy-dandy contextual menu. Most of the choices there are more easily done in other ways—why would you right-click and choose Show in Finder when it’s available right from the Downloads Popover?—but I really like using the Copy Address feature.

This’ll copy the address of that downloadable file to your clipboard, meaning you can send your tech-impaired family members a link right to the thing. This is much easier than having to tell them where on a webpage the download link is. If you don’t like bringing up that contextual menu, you can accomplish this same task by highlighting the file in your Downloads Popover and hitting Command-C.

The other useful selection from that contextual menu is Remove From List, which allows you to selectively take out offending items. Because nothing says “I’m hiding Internet activity from you” like a perfectly clean download list, am I right? Again, you can do this same thing without invoking the contextual menu by selecting the file in question and tapping the delete key if you like it better that way.

Finally, just because I think this is something everyone should know—if you’d like to change the default location where Safari puts everything you download, choose Safari > Preferences and click on the General tab. Change the “Save downloaded files to” drop-down menu to a more convenient place, and you’re ready to go on with your happy little browsing life. As am I now that this article is finished. Reddit, here I come!