Directly accessing the Downloads folder

Reader Charles Bilkin is unsatisfied with a Safari feature, he writes:

When I used Safari running under Tiger, my downloads would go to the Desktop. Now that I’m using Leopard, they go into the Downloads folder. I know that my Desktop is cleaner now, but I don’t like having to open my Downloads folder whenever I want to get a file I’ve downloaded. Is there some way to turn this off?

Sure, just open Safari’s preferences, click the General tab, and, from the Save Downloaded Files To pop-up menu, choose Other. In the sheet that appears, navigate to the Desktop folder in your user folder and click Select. Files you download will appear on the Desktop.

But before you do that, consider this: Perhaps you can have both easy access to your downloaded files and a clearer Desktop. Like so:

Enter an address like this in Safari’s Address field:

file:///Users/yourusername/Downloads

(Naturally yourusername would be the name of your user account.)

Drag the small icon of the Downloads folder that appears just to the left of the address into the Bookmarks Bar and name it something like Downloads. Now when you want quick access to files you’ve downloaded, just click this new Downloads bookmark. When you do, the Downloads folder opens in the Finder.

Similarly, in Safari’s Downloads window you can quickly get to your downloaded file by clicking the Magnifying Glass icon next to its name. The Finder comes to the fore with the Downloads window open and your file highlighted (unless it’s a disk-image file that was automatically opened, in which case clicking this icon takes you to the window that shows you all the mounted volumes on your Mac). I also make it a point to drag the Downloads folder into a Finder window’s Sidebar so that I can quickly open it from any Finder window.

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