Undo accidentally cleared Safari downloads

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Safari’s Downloads window, in addition to helping monitor your downloads, can be a useful tool. For instance, consider a relatively common situation where you download an app, try it out, then decide you don’t like it and trash the app and the downloaded disk image. A bit later on, you decide you want to take another look at the app. Since you trashed everything, you might think you have to start over again at the developer’s web site. But as long as you haven’t cleared Safari’s Download window, that’s not true—just find the entry for the program, hit Command-C to copy it, then hit Command-V to paste it right back into the Downloads window. Presto; the file will start downloading again.

Control-clicking on an item in the Downloads window will also let you open it, show it in the Finder, or copy the file’s URL. But none of these things is actually today’s tip … they’re just examples of why keeping downloads in the Downloads window is a good idea, at least for some length of time.

Today’s tip is actually about recovering from an accidental clearing of the Downloads window. When I first started using Safari, this happened to me somewhat regularly—I kept thinking I could highlight one entry in the list and then click the Clear button—doh!. As most of you probably know, that’s not what the Clear button does; instead, it erases completed and/or stopped items from the Downloads window. Had I had enough patience to simply hover my mouse over the Clear button for a few seconds, I would have seen the helpful message (“Remove completed and stopped downloads from this list”) letting me know that’s what would happen. Obviously, patience isn’t high on my list of strengths!

Thankfully, there is a way to recover from an accidentally-cleared Downloads window, and it’s amazingly easy. Just hit Command-Z (Edit: Undo) while the Downloads window is active, and your list will magically pop back into existence. You can even do this after you’ve switched to a normal browsing window and done some surfing. The one thing that will destroy your recovery, however, is to start downloading another file. Once you’ve done that, your accidentally-cleared entries are gone for good.

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