Accessing the Downloads Folder on Mac & Finding Downloaded Files
Ever wondered where all the downloaded files go on your Mac? By default, most apps will transfer downloaded files into the user Downloads folder. This applies to all downloads to a Mac made from the web with Safari, Chrome, through AirDrop, or from the many file transfer apps out there.
There are many different ways to quickly find and access the Downloads folder on a Mac, we’ll review some of the fastest methods to get to that folder and find your downloaded files. Additionally, we’ll show you two ways to track down downloaded files that for whatever reason didn’t show up in the Downloads folder.
Where the Downloads Folder Location is in Mac OS
In all versions of Mac OS X and macOS, the user downloads folder is located in the users Home directory in a folder appropriately called “Downloads”.
The relative path for the Downloads folder in MacOS is ~/Downloads/ while the exact path would be /Users/username/Downloads/
For users who like to use the excellent Go To Folder keystroke function in Mac OS, hitting Command + Shift + G and entering either of the aforementioned directory paths will get you to the specified users Downloads directory.
How to Access Downloads Folder on Mac from the Dock
The Downloads folder exists in the Dock of Mac OS by default, so unless it has been removed it will be there for all users to have quick access to by accessing the Dock at the bottom of the Mac screen. It will be located on the right side of the Dock near the Trash can.
How to Access Downloads from Mac Finder Menu Bar
The Finder menu bar also provides quick access to the Mac Downloads folder. From anywhere in the Finder, simply pull down the “Go” menu and choose “Downloads”
If you prefer to use keystrokes, you can hit Command + Option + L within the Finder to jump to the Downloads folder as well.
Go to Downloads Folder from Finder Sidebar
Another method of accessing the Downloads folder is from the Finder window sidebar. The “Downloads” option will be there by default unless it was removed.
Access Downloads Folder on Mac from the Home Directory
Of course you can also get to the Downloads folder on a Mac by navigating from the users Home directory, where the clearly labeled “Downloads” folder will exist alongside other default folders like Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Movies, etc.
Can’t Find a Downloaded File on the Mac? Search For It
Sometimes files download to unexpected places, whether it’s the Desktop or Documents folder or elsewhere. If you looked there and in the Downloads folder and can’t locate a downloaded file on the Mac, your best bet is to use the search features on the Mac. You can either use Finder search or Spotlight to look for files.
Searching for Downloaded Files with Finder Find
Finder Search must be accessed from a file system window in the Finder. Then from the “File” menu choose “Find” and enter the name of the file to search for. If you prefer keystrokes, hit Command + F from the Finder to bring up the search feature.
If you click on a file result in the Finder Find feature, the path to the file will be visible in the Finder windows status bar.
Searching for Downloaded Files with Spotlight
Spotlight can be accessed from anywhere on the Mac, all you have to do is hit Command + Spacebar to bring up Spotlight, then type the file name of the downloaded item you are searching for.
When you find the downloaded file in the Spotlight search result, you can hit the “Return” key to open it immediately, or you can hit Command+Return to open the folder containing the file instead.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that apps downloaded from the Mac App Store will not appear in the Downloads folder, as instead any downloaded app goes directly from the App Store into the /Applications folder on the Mac.