Where do files go when downloaded?

Updated: 03/01/2018 by Computer Hope

When you download a file, where it is saved to depends on the Internet browser you used to download the file and if you chose to Save or Run dialog the file.

Microsoft Windows

Via Your Browser

The Internet browser you use when downloading a file can determine where the file is saved. Most browsers save a file to a Downloads folder in your User profile folder on your computer.

Tip: The fastest way to view your recent downloads in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome, is to press Ctrl+J on your keyboard. After the shortcut key is pressed, a downloads tab or window (shown below) should appear.

Download window

Tip: In the Internet browser options or settings you can find where your download files are saved. You can then change that download location or leave it as it is.

Start MenuVia the Start Menu

To access your downloads outside the browser, click the "Start" button in the lower left corner of your screen and type "Downloads" in the search box that appears.

In some cases, when downloading a file you may be presented with a pop-up dialog box asking if you want to Save the file or Run the file. If you select the Save option and can specify where to save the file you can choose the Desktop, Documents folder, or any other location.

Via an Explorer window

You can also find your Downloads folder in any File Explorer window.

Open a new explorer window by pressing Win-E (hold down the Windows key and press E). Or, you can open a File Explorer window by pressing Win-R to open the Run box, and typing Explorer(enter).

Or, as pictured below, you can click the File Explorer icon on your Taskbar.

Running explorer from the Windows 10 taskbar

In your File Explorer window, you can navigate to your Downloads folder using the shortcut in the left pane or by clicking on Downloads under other headings such as Frequent Folders.

Finding the Downloads folder in a Windows 10 File Explorer window

Bonus Tip: Create a shortcut to your downloads folder to quickly get access to your downloads folder from the Desktop.


From the Finder, you can open the Downloads folder by opening a new Finder window (FileNew Finder Window, or press -N) and navigating to

[Your Hard Drive] → Users → [Your user name] → Downloads.

Also, there is usually a link to this folder in the Favorites pane.

OS X Download folder in a Finder window

You can also access your downloads using the link on the Dock. In the lower right side of the dock, click Downloads. Your most recent downloads will spring out of the dock.

OS X Downloads folder accessed on the Dock

Click on any icon to open that file.


Nearly all Android devices have a Downloads "app" that is, by default, located in the section as all of your other apps. This app (which is actually a folder) contains all of your recently acquired files. The apps folder on most Android devices may be accessed by using one of the buttons at the bottom of the home screen.

iPad and iPhone

On the iPad and iPhone, downloaded files are not saved or stored in a single location. Instead, downloaded files are associated and accessible through apps that can view the files.

For example, if a picture is downloaded, it can be found through the Photos app. If a PDF file is downloaded, it can be viewed through Safari, which can open PDF files. To find a file you downloaded on your iPad or iPhone, open the app that is capable of opening that type of file, then open that file to view it.

Another option is to install a file manager app on your iPad or iPhone, such as the File Manager & Browser app. Using a file manager app, you can organize all files on the device, making it easier to find them. If your iPad or iPhone has iOS 11 or later running on it, you can install the Files app to organize and manage files. The Files app also allows for syncing of files with the iCloud Drive and third-party applications, like Box and Dropbox.

Additional information