How to delete the Hidden Download Log on a Mac

How to delete the Hidden Download Log on a Mac

Did you know that every time you download something onto your Mac, a record of that downloaded file is added to a log and kept in your system? It can be anything from a Google image, a PDF document from your boss, or a pirated copy of the latest movie at the theater. If you download it to your Mac laptop hard drive, a record of it is going to be made on the log.

Apple doesn’t advertise that this is done and I personally have no clue why it’s done. Perhaps it’s for troubleshooting reasons, who knows? But from a privacy perspective, this is quite intrusive, especially if someone is snooping around your computer and knows where to locate the log. If you’re in the habit of downloading a lot, having a log of every single thing you have downloaded is of course not convenient. To find out how to delete the hidden download log on your Mac, read on.


First, locate the Download Log on your Mac

It’s very easy to find the log. Open a Terminal window and type :

sqlite3 ~/Library/Preferences/* 'select LSQuarantineDataURLString from LSQuarantineEvent'

This will then produce a complete list of your downloads, since the last time you deleted it. If this is your first time viewing the list, the list may very well go back to the first day you bought your Mac!

Mac download log

Now, delete the Log

Deleting it is also not difficult. Simply type into Terminal :

sqlite3 ~/Library/Preferences/* 'delete from LSQuarantineEvent'

The download list will now be wiped. If you run the first command again, you will now get a blank list.

You should ideally make a habit of doing this once a week or once a month, depending on how much you download, and who else has access to your Mac laptop. To make the task easier, you can run an Automator script with the command so it can be done with just a click of the mouse or trackpad.

Macs are otherwise great computing machines, thanks to their combination of software, hardware, and even the Mac accessories ecosystem. But if this download logging turns you away, you can explore other options as mentioned in our Best Laptops list.

About author

Mahmoud Itani
Mahmoud Itani

Mahmoud is an Istanbul-based Beiruti who has always sought freedom through writing. His hobbies include keeping up with tech news, writing articles about Apple devices & services, crocheting, meditating, and composing poetry. You’ll likely find him jogging with his dogs at a park, swimming in open water, brainstorming at a coffeehouse, or merely lost in nature. He can be reached on Twitter @Mahmoudzitani or via [email protected]

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