XDA Basics: How to Delete the Hidden Download Log on Mac

XDA Basics: How to Delete the Hidden Download Log on 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 Log

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

sqlite3 ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.LaunchServices.QuarantineEventsV* '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/com.apple.LaunchServices.QuarantineEventsV* '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

Mark O'Neill
Mark O'Neill

Mark O'Neill is a freelance writer, editor, and bestselling fiction author. Since 2004, he has written on technology subjects such as MacOS, iOS, cybersecurity, and online privacy. Originally from Scotland, he is now based in Würzburg, Germany, where he lives with his wife and dog. Please direct all email enquiries to [email protected]