It’s not always easy downloading files in Safari for Mac. Sometimes files seem to disappear after you download them, while other times they don’t download at all. Confusingly, this can happen for a variety of reasons. However, the fixes are all easy enough, regardless of whether you have to click two buttons or 10.

In some cases, the solution to Safari download issues involves checking your Downloads folder. In other cases, it involves disabling any plugin that might cause you problems. These are all simple actions, so it shouldn’t take you much time to get downloading again. We’ll walk you through it

1. Check Your Default Downloads Folder

Using Safari's Preferences to check your file download location

Safari sends every file you download to a folder on your Mac. Unsurprisingly, it uses Downloads as the default location. However, you can change this, perhaps without even realizing it.

You should thus check where Safari sends your downloads, and change it accordingly if desired. To do this:

  1. Click Safari (in your Mac’s top menu bar) and choose Preferences.
  2. Select the General tab.
  3. Expand the File download location dropdown box.
  4. Select Downloads (or whatever folder you’d like to use).

You can set the default download location to a folder other than Downloads, of course. But make sure you remember what this alternative folder is. Otherwise, you could lose time searching for files that aren’t in an obvious location.

2. Check the “Open Safe Files” Box

Clicking the "Open "safe" files" box in Safari's Preferences

Sometimes, it might seem like Safari downloads aren’t working normally because of a certain setting. This is the Open “safe” files after downloading box, which you’ll find in Safari’s General Preferences pane.

This option is turned on by default. It instructs Safari to automatically open all “safe” files once they’ve finished downloading. By turning it off, you might mistakenly think that Safari has stopped downloading properly, since it stops automatically opening your files.

However, you can easily turn it back on. You simply have to do the following:

  1. Click Safari (in the top menu bar) and select Preferences.
  2. Make sure you’re on the General tab.
  3. Check the small box next to Open “safe” files after downloading.

Safari will now open all “safe” files for you after it downloads them. And in case you were wondering, Apple defines certain file types, such as pictures and PDFs, as “safe.”

3. Check Your Network

It’s worth bearing in mind that, if you can’t download in Safari, it might not be Safari that’s the problem. In fact, it could be that your Wi-Fi connection is too slow, or isn’t working normally. In that case, there are a number of steps you can take.

First, make sure that you’re actually connected to a Wi-Fi network and that your Mac is close to the router. You’ll typically suffer from slow downloads when you’re far away from the router, so moving closer can solve some problems.

Also, you can often speed up your Wi-Fi speeds by changing your router’s channel. You can do this by typing your router’s IP address into Safari’s address bar and hitting Return. You’ll then come to your router’s settings page, which is where you can change the channel it uses.

One other trick you can try is checking whether another device is eating up your Wi-Fi’s bandwidth. This can slow down the speed of downloads, particularly if lots of devices are doing intensive work at the same time. Try pausing video streaming, online gaming, and similar activities if you can.

Similarly, if you’re downloading a large file, you might simply have to wait a while before it finishes downloading.

4. Check for Paused Downloads

Pressing the Resume button to restart a stopped download in Safari

Starting a download and then closing your Mac while it’s still in progress can pause it. This is an obvious reason why you can’t find the download in your Downloads folder: it hasn’t actually finished downloading.

In such cases, you have to restart the download. You can do this by clicking the Show Downloads button in the top-right corner of Safari’s screen, which looks like an arrow pointing down. Then hit the Resume button, which resembles the refresh button in most web browsers.

5. Try Downloading Again

Sometimes, files get corrupted or damaged when you download them. This can stop the download from finishing, or it can stop you from opening the file once it’s downloaded.

Either way, you can try simply downloading the file again. This is a basic step, but it can work because such interruptions and errors will prevent downloads from completing.

6. Check Your Mac’s Security and Privacy Settings

Using Security & Privacy to change which downloaded apps you can open

Sometimes, Safari download problems occur because your Mac doesn’t let you open apps from unidentified developers. You’ll find this setting in the Security & Privacy pane of System Preferences, which restricts you to opening apps downloaded from the App Store.

Fortunately, you can open apps from unidentified developers, assuming that you trust them. This is what you should do:

  1. Launch Finder.
  2. Type the name of the app you want to open into Finder’s search bar.
  3. Click This Mac to search your entire system.
  4. Right-click the app in question and click Open.

You can also change your settings to let you always open apps downloaded from outside the App Store. This involves doing the following:

  1. Launch System Preferences and open Security & Privacy.
  2. Click the lock icon and enter your administrator password to authorize changes.
  3. Under Allow apps downloaded from, click App Store and identified developers.

Note that this option only permits apps from known developers, so if you download an app from an unidentified developer, you’ll have to go through the process above. When your Mac blocks an unidentified app, you’ll also see a prompt to open it in the Security & Privacy pane here. See our ultimate guide to Mac security for more on this and similar measures.

7. Disable Safari Plugins

Using Safari's Preferences to disable plugins

Plugins can sometimes interfere with how web browsers operate. This includes downloading, so if you’re having download problems on Safari you should try disabling any recently added plugins. This can restore the browser to a state that’s closer to normal.

This is what you should do:

  1. Click Safari (in the top menu bar) and choose Preferences.
  2. Select the Websites tab.
  3. Under the Plug-ins column, de-select any plugin you’d like to disable.

Once you’ve disabled any suspect plugins, you should try completing your download again. If it works, you know that the disabled plugin was most likely the cause of the problem. You should keep it disabled whenever downloading.

But if you need it for other tasks, remember to enable it when you do them.

An Easier Time on Safari

Apple offers Safari as a simpler alternative to Google Chrome, and one that consumes less of your Mac’s battery power. As the above shows, sometimes it can run into issues, but there are thankfully ways to solve your download problems.