Safari Downloads Not Working? 9 Troubleshooting Ideas and Fixes to Attempt

Downloading files in Safari on Mac is not always easy. Sometimes files seem to disappear after you've downloaded them, while sometimes they don't download at all. Confusingly, this can happen for a number of reasons. However, the fixes are all simple enough whether you have to click two buttons or click 10.

In some cases, the solution to Safari download problems is to get your Downloads Folder. In other cases, you'll need to disable any plugins that might cause you problems. These are all simple actions, so it shouldn't be long before you start the download again. We'll walk you through everything you can try to resolve if Safari isn't downloading anything.

1. Check your default download folder

Safari sends each downloaded file to a folder on your Mac. Unsurprisingly, it's used Downloads as the default location. However, you can change this, perhaps without realizing it.

So, be sure to check where Safari is sending your downloads and change accordingly if necessary. In order to do this:


  1. click safari (in the top menu bar on your Mac) and select settings.

  2. Choose Generally Tab.

  3. Extend the Location for file download Drop down box.

  4. Choose Downloads (or which folder you want to use).

You can set the default download location to a different folder than Downloads, Of course. But make sure you remember what that alternate folder is. Otherwise, you could lose time looking for files that aren't in an obvious folder.

2. Activate the "Open safe files" check box.

Sometimes it seems like Safari downloads are not working normally due to a certain setting. this is that Once downloaded, open "Safe" files Option you have in safaris Generally Settings area.

This option is activated by default. It tells Safari to automatically open all "safe" files once the download is complete. If you disable it, you might mistakenly think that Safari was no longer downloading properly because it no longer automatically opens your files.

However, you can easily turn it back on. All you have to do is:

  1. click safari (in the top menu bar) and select settings.

  2. Make sure you click on the Generally Tab.

  3. Check the little box next to Once downloaded, open "Safe" files.

Safari will now open all of the "safe" files for you after it has downloaded them. And in case you're wondering, Apple defines certain file types like images and PDFs as "safe".

3. Check your network

Note that if you can't download in Safari, Safari may not be the problem. It could even be that your WiFi connection is slow or not working normally. There are several steps you can take in this case.

First, make sure that you are actually connected to a Wi-Fi network and that your Mac is near the router. You will usually suffer from slow downloads when you are far from the router. So, getting closer can fix some issues.

Also, you can often speed up your WiFi speed by changing your router's channel. You can do this by entering your router's IP address in Safari's address bar and clicking To return. This will take you to the settings page of your router where you can change the channel used.

Another trick you can try is to see if another device is consuming your WiFi bandwidth. This can slow down the download speed, especially if many devices are working intensively at the same time. Try to pause video streaming, online gaming, and similar activities if you can.

If you're downloading a large file, you might just have to wait for the download to complete.

4. Change DNS server

Using a popular Domain Name System (DNS) service can improve Safari's chances of finding a file's download servers. Let's try ditching your ISP's DNS servers in favor of Google DNS. Here's how:

  1. Choose Wireless Internet access Status icon in the menu bar of the Mac and select Network settings.

  2. make sure that Wireless Internet access is selected in the sidebar. Then click Progressive.

  3. Switch to the DNS Tab.Then delete all existing entries and paste the following:

Save your changes and try to download the file again. For best results, empty your Mac's DNS cache before doing this.

Related: How to Clear DNS Cache on Mac

5. Check for paused downloads

If you start a download and then close your Mac while it's still running, it can pause it. This is an obvious reason why you are not having the download in your Downloads Folder: The download is not yet complete.

In such cases you will have to restart the download. You can do this by clicking show downloads Button in the upper-right corner of the Safari screen that looks like a downward-pointing arrow. Then press the curriculum vitae Button that is similar to the Refresh button on most web browsers.

6. Try to download again

Sometimes files get corrupted or corrupted while downloading. This could prevent the download from completing, or you may not be able to open the file after it is downloaded.

In either case, you can just try to download the file again. This is a basic step, but it can work because such interruptions and errors will prevent the download from completing.

7. Clear the Safari cache

An outdated browser cache can wreak havoc and cause all sorts of problems and prevent Safari from downloading files on your Mac. Check if deleting makes a difference:

  1. click safari in the menu bar and select settings.

  2. Switch to the Progressive Tab.

  3. Check the box next to Show the Develop menu in the menu bar.

  4. Choose To develop in the menu bar.

  5. click Empty caches.

8. Check your Mac's security and privacy settings

Sometimes you encounter Safari download issues because you cannot open apps from unknown developers on your Mac. You can find this setting in the safety System settings area that, by default, restricts you to opening apps downloaded from the App Store.

Fortunately, you can open apps from unidentified developers provided you trust them. Here's what you should do:

  1. begin finder.

  2. Type the name of the app you want to open into the Finder's search bar.

  3. click This Mac to search your entire system.

  4. Ctrl + click the app in question and click Open minded.

You can also change your settings so that you can always open apps downloaded from outside the App Store. This includes the following:

  1. begin System settings and open safety.

  2. Press the Lock Icon and enter your administrator password to authorize changes.

  3. Under Allow from downloaded apps, click App Store and identified developers.

Note that this option only allows apps from known developers. So whenever you download an app from an unidentified developer, you need to go through the above process. If your Mac blocks an unidentified app, you'll also be prompted to open it in the safety disk here.

9. Disable Safari extensions and plugins

Extensions and plugins can sometimes affect the functionality of web browsers. This includes downloading. So, if you're having download issues in Safari, then you should try disabling any recently installed add-ons for your browser. This enables the browser to be restored to a normal state.

Here's what you should do:

  1. click safari (in the top menu bar) and select settings.

  2. Choose Web pages Tab.

  3. Deactivate the extensions or plugins that you want to deactivate.

After disabling any suspicious extensions or plugins, you should try completing the download again. If it works, you know that the add-on that was disabled was most likely the cause of the problem. You should keep it disabled while downloading.

However, if you need it for other tasks, be sure to activate it when you perform these.

An easier time on safari

Apple offers Safari as a simpler alternative to Google Chrome that uses less battery power on your Mac. As shown above, problems can sometimes arise, but luckily there are ways to solve your download problems.

And even if you don't have any particular problems with Safari, check out top Safari tips and tricks to make it better.

17 Essential Safari Tips and Tricks for Mac Users

These important Safari tips and tricks make the standard Mac browsing experience even better.

Continue reading

About the author

Simon Chandler
(7 articles published)

Simon Chandler is a freelance technology journalist. He has written for publications such as Wired, TechCrunch, The Verge and the Daily Dot and his areas of expertise include AI, virtual reality, social media and cryptocurrencies, among others. For MakeUseOf, it covers Mac and macOS as well as iPhone, iPad and iOS.

By Simon Chandler

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