How to Adjust When & How Safari Clears the Download Item List
1. Open Safari on the Mac if you haven’t done so yet, then pull down the “Safari” menu and choose “Preferences”
2. Under the “General” tab, look for “Remove download list items:” and choose one of the options:
- After one day – the default setting, after 24 hours pass the downloads list will clear itself in Safari
- When Safari quits – my personal preference, this maintains a session level listing of downloaded items that clears only when Safari quits, offering a clean slate with each fresh browsing session regardless of elapsed time
- Upon successful download – if you don’t want to maintain a list beyond what’s actively downloading, this is the setting for that, arguably the most privacy conscious choice
- Manually – Safari will not clear the downloads list at all, instead opting for user intervention to clear the downloads list – this may be a good choice if you like a meticulous record of all downloaded files*
3. Close out of Safari Preferences and browse as usual with the new setting in place
For those who aren’t aware, you can access the downloads list in Safari by clicking the downward arrow icon in the toolbar of Safari:
The items shown in the downloaded list will depend on what your settings are as chosen above.
If the downloads list is empty, then the button does not reveal itself in modern versions of Safari on the Mac.
Keep in mind this only impacts the list of downloaded files maintained in Safari browser, it has no impact on the files downloaded themselves, and they will still be stored in ~/Downloads or where ever else was set to be the downloaded file location to be on the file system.
* The “Manually” option is helpful if you find yourself downloading a lot of files and wanting to keep track of them, and, perhaps most helpful with this option, is that if you can’t recall where a particular item came from, you can find the URL of where any file was downloaded from by investigating the file within the OS X Finder.