Where Is that File I Just Downloaded?

by Barry Dysert
(last updated January 19, 2015)

Beth, like many people, periodically downloads things from the Internet, but she has difficulty figuring out where those downloaded files are located on her system. She wonders if there is a way to know where a file is downloaded or to control where things go.

In the not-too-distant past you had to be quite attentive when downloading files from the Web. Otherwise you may not have known where your downloads went. Fortunately, the newest versions of the more popular browsers have much better download control. Where downloaded files are saved is entirely under the control of the browsers themselves.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

In Internet Explorer 9, files are downloaded, by default, to the following folder:

\Users\user\Downloads\

Of course you can always do a "Save as" to direct a download to another location, in which case you would know the alternative location. If you want to change your default download location, click the icon that looks like a cog wheel, under the Close button, and choose the View Downloads menu option. This brings up a list of your previously downloaded files but also gives you the option to change the download location. Click the Options link and you are presented with the Download Options dialog box (See Figure 1.) where you can browse to select a new default location for your downloads.

Figure 1. Internet Explorer's Download Options dialog box.

Google Chrome

In the Chrome browser, downloads are stored in the same folder, by default, as they are in Internet Explorer. To change the download location, click the wrench icon to the right of the address box and select Options. In the resulting Options dialog box, click the Under the Hood link at the left side of the dialog box. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Chrome's Download Options window.

Scroll down to the Downloads section where you can click the Change button to select a new location for your downloaded files.

Mozilla Firefox

In Firefox, downloads also go to the same default folder as in Internet Explorer and Chrome. But, again, you can change it if you like. Click the Firefox drop-down menu at the upper-left corner of the browser's title bar. Navigate to Options | Options and display the General tab. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. Firefox's Download Options window.

Notice the section in the middle of the dialog box labeled Downloads. You can, if desired, choose the Always Ask Me radio button so that Firefox always asks you where you want to save each downloaded file. It is more convenient, however, to choose the Save Files To radio button and then click on Browse to select the folder where you want your downloads saved.

 This tip (12262) applies to Windows 7 and 8.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...

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