Digital Declutter Day 5: Clear “Downloads” Folder

The Digital Decluttter

Today in the Get Organized! Digital Declutter Challenge we are turning to your laptop or desktop computer to clear out the Downloads folder.

downloads folder

Few people regularly clear out their Downloads folder, and many are not even aware that they have one. This folder is the place where your computer automatically saves attachments, photos, memes, and other files that you download from the internet. Typically, these files are assigned a name by your computer, such as, “IMG_1234.jpg.” Often, we accumulate files in this folder and then forget about them. The result is a pileup of old files that take up disk space and make it difficult to find the recent files we want.

To clear this folder…

In general, if you have a PC:

  • Click on the Windows Start Button (the rainbow colored square at the bottom left of your screen).
  • Scroll up and click on the word “Computer.”
  • Look in the left hand pane for the word “Downloads.” This folder usually has an icon that is a downward facing arrow.
  • Click on the folder to open it up and you will see a listing of all of the documents you have downloaded.

In general, if you have an Apple:

  • Click on the Finder (the smiley face, square icon on the bottom left of your screen).
  • Scroll up to the “Downloads” folder. This folder usually has an icon that is a downward facing arrow.
  • Double click on the folder to open it up and you will see a listing of all of the documents you have downloaded.

To make the sorting easier, you may wish to sort all of these documents by the date they were downloaded. [To do this, click on the words “Date modified” at the top of that column.]

Once you have ordered the Downloads, go through and delete any that you no longer need. Begin with the oldest and work up toward the most recent. Feel free to open the files up if you can’t remember what they are from the automatically generated name.

The rest of the documents – any that you wish to keep – should be moved out of the Downloads folder and into the appropriate location. If you aren’t sure where you want to put them, you may leave them here for now, but make sure they are named in a way that will remind you what they are. (We will revisit the idea of naming documents later in the month.)

Going forward, it is a good discipline to rename and move files out of your Downloads folder as soon as you download them.

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How did it go? Did you have a lot of files in this folder?

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