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How to Permanently Delete Downloads on Your Mac

Updated on Friday, June 14, 2024

iBoysoft author Connie Yang

Written by

Connie Yang
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee


Summary: This post by iBoysoft will tell you how to delete downloads on your Mac, including removing those that can't be deleted. Besides, it will guide you to clear all their traces to permanently delete your downloads.

delete downloads on Mac

Maybe, you want to delete files on your Mac, for instance, the downloads, to speed up your slow Mac. Or, you just want to tidy up the unwanted downloads on Mac as they accumulate on your Mac for a long period.

So, how to delete downloads on your Mac? Take it easy. We have ways.

This complete tutorial will help you find and permanently delete your unwanted downloads and their related history on your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. After that, your Mac will run smoother.

Is it OK to delete downloads on Mac?

Once you ensure that the downloads on your Mac are useless for you, you can delete them. Deleting the unwanted downloads can free up more storage on your Mac and consequently, optimize your Mac.

Perhaps, you worry that whether deleting the downloaded app file (the file type is .dmg) will lead to the app won't work or not. That definitely not.

If you can't delete downloads on Mac, you need to fix error code 43 on Mac.

Where do you find your downloads?

You should find downloads on Mac in the first step. Usually, all the downloads are stored in the Downloads folder on a Mac by default unless you purposely select another destination.

You can open Finder and select the Downloads folder at the left sidebar of the Finder window. Or, you can click Go > Downloads from the top Finder menu to access the Downloads folder.

Find the Downloads folder in Finder

Then, you'll find all your downloads, including documents, .dmg files, images, and other types of downloaded files listed there.

If you've changed the location for your downloads, you need to open the corresponding folder to check them.

How to delete downloads on Mac?

After ensuring the location of your unwanted downloads, you can follow the steps below to remove them into the Trash.

Delete all downloads on Mac:

  • Open the Downloads folder in Finder.
  • Press the Command + A keys to select all the files in the Downloads folder.
  • Navigate to the top Finder menu and click File > Move to Trash. Or, right-click on them and select Move to Trash.

Delete all downloads on Mac

Delete multiple downloads on Mac:

  • Launch the Downloads folder in Finder.
  • Select one unwanted download and simultaneously hold down the Shift key.
  • Continue to choose the items you want to remove.
    Delete multiple downloads on Mac
  • Drag them to the Trash.

Delete a single unwanted download on Mac:

  • Open the Downloads folder.
  • Right-click the unwanted downloaded file and select Move to Trash. Or, you can directly drag the target file to the Trash.

Even if you move the downloads to your Trash with the above steps, these downloads are still stored on your Mac and take up your disk space.

To permanently delete the downloads on a MacBook Air 2020/2019 or other Mac models, you need to empty your Trash. Right-click the Trash and then select Empty Trash to permanently delete files on Mac. Make sure the files are unwanted before the final deletion, otherwise, you may need to take more effort to recover permanently deleted files on Mac.

Before taking action, check if there are some important files in Trash and put them back. Once the Trash is emptied, you can't recover the lost files by yourself but use data recovery software.

Clear download history from browsers

Well, you've permanently deleted the downloads via moving them to the Trash and emptying the Trash as well. But the traces of these downloads still exist. You can clear the download history of these files from your browsers to free up more memory on Mac.

Remove the download history in Safari

  • Open Safari.
  • Move to the top Safari menu and click History > Clear History.
    Clear downloads history in Safari
  • Select all history or other options in the pop-up box and then click Clear History to remove the history of the removed downloads.

Delete the download history in Chrome

  • Launch Google Chrome.
  • Click the Window option in the Chrome menu and select Downloads.
  • Select the three dots at the upper right corner of the pop-up downloads page and click Clear all.

Delete downloads history in Chrome

Clear the download history in Firefox

  • Open Firefox and click the Tools option at the top Firefox navigation bar > Downloads.
  • Click Clear Downloads at the upper left corner of the new window to remove all the download history. 

If you want to delete part of the download history, you just need to click History at the top menu. Then, select Clear Recent History from the drop-down menu. Finally, choose a period in the Time Range to Clear box and click OK.

Delete downloads history in Firefox

Now, the space that the downloads occupy is completely freed up. You can check if your Mac runs faster than before.

How to delete downloaded apps on Mac?

If you just want to delete the downloaded app installers, they are usually saved in the Downloads folder as the file extension named .dmg.

You can follow these steps to delete all the downloaded app installers:

  • Open Finder and navigate to the top Finder menu.
  • Click View > Sort By > Kind.
  • Browse the files in the Downloads folder and find the .dmg files.
    Sort downloads file type in Finder
  • Drag to select all of them and then move them to the Trash.
  • Right-click the Trash > Empty Trash after you ensure you don't need them anymore.

If you want to delete downloaded files after installation on Mac, you can follow this post: How to Uninstall/Delete Applications on Mac/MacBook?

Why can't you delete your downloads on your Mac?

Usually, if you don't have full permission for the downloads you want to delete, you can't remove them. You can ask the admin user to help you do that.

And if the downloaded file is locked, you also fail to delete it from your Mac. You can right-click the downloaded file > Get Info to check and unlock it.

Moreover, you neither can't remove a download once it is being used by a program or Mac OS or is not recognized by the system. You can close all the running apps or restart your Mac to troubleshoot the issues and make your downloads removable.

Final words

In general, permanently deleting multiple or all downloads on your Mac is not a difficult job. This post contains how to find and completely delete the downloads on your Mac and how to clear the download history in different browsers.

And it is suitable for deleting downloads on MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or other Mac machines.