How To Download Just About Anything [OS X Tips]

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If there’s something you’d like to grab from a web page for which a download link isn’t provided, such as a movie file, Safari offers a handful of ways to download it–with no add-ons required. Read on to learn how.

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Here’s another tip from Mac Kung Fu, which contains over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for OS X. It’s available from Amazon as well as other bookstores, and also as an eBook for all eReaders.

The first trick to try is using the Activity Window. This doesn’t always work but is certainly worth a try. While browsing the site using Safari, click Window -> Activity and, in the window that appears, expand the entry alongside the web page you’re viewing. Then look for the file name that matches what you’re looking for (some guesswork is often necessary—pay particular attention to the size column on the right; items like movie files are usually multiple megabytes or even gigabytes, and will be increasing rapidly as the movie is streamed).

Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, hold down Option and double-click its entry in the list. This will either open it in a separate tab of Safari, from where you can click and drag it to the desktop in the case of an image, or the file will begin downloading in the usual way, as if you’d just clicked a download link.

Downloading any file for which you have the full URL (that is, something like http://example.com/filename.jpg) is also easy using Safari. Highlight the link text and copy it to the clipboard (Command + C).

Then expand the pop-out Downloads window in Safari by clicking the button to the right of the Google search box. This will open the download progress window, and you can just hit Command + V to invisibly paste in the download address. The file will start downloading right away.

If you can’t see the download button, hit Option + Command + L and the download pop-up should appear. If it still doesn’t appear, hold Option and click any web link on the site you’re browsing. This will download the HTML file for the page, which you can instantly delete, but the download window will now be activated and ready for use as described earlier.