For whatever perverse reasons I wish to rename the Downloads folder to Temp. I would also be happy with a way of making it appear to me, in both the GUI and the CLI, as Temp. I am aware I can do this via Terminal with root privileges, but the fact that I need root privileges to do so suggests to me that something might break. Will something indeed break if I rename the folder, and if not, is there a gentler way of renaming it thansudo mv Downloads Temp?

I will also be happy (though less so) with confirmation that making Downloads into a symbolic link to a different folder won't break anything.

  • 2
    I wouldn't bother with that. As soon as you rename the folder and reboot (or even logout/login), OS X will recreate the Downloads folder. It has actually been listed as "required" folder under Lion (try deleting it through the Finder). You are going to have to live with it I'm afraid.
    – user10355
    Sep 5, 2011 at 5:29
  • 1
    The proposed solution by @Daniel below is an elegant workaround.
    – user479
    Sep 5, 2011 at 6:29

5 Answers 5


To extend the idea raised by cksum in a comment already:

  • Create a symbolic link to Downloads with the name you want: ln -s ~/Downloads ~/Temp
  • Hide the real Downloads folder from the Finder: chflags hidden ~/Downloads

All browsers etc. will still save to Downloads (so you don't have to reconfigure anything) but you can access your files in Temp without having to bother with Downloads any longer.

  • 1
    That's a very cool way to do it!
    – daviesgeek
    Sep 5, 2011 at 16:04
  • 1
    Does this solve the tab completion ambiguity between Do_cuments and Do_wnloads in Terminal, if either Documents or Downloads is hidden? For some reason I would doubt it. Sep 11, 2011 at 23:47
  • Downloads is only hidden from Finder, not from bash (running in Terminal), so the completion ambiguity on Do remains.
    – nohillside
    Sep 12, 2011 at 8:01

Here's a way you can do it without actually creating a new folder or mucking around with symlinks.

In an editor like TextWrangler or BBEdit, open this file:


Inside, you'll see stuff like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
    <key>Deleted Users</key>
    <string>Deleted Users</string>
    <key>Drop Box</key>
    <string>Drop Box</string>

This is how the system knows how to translate folder names. Since this is the "en.lproj" ("English language project"), you can alter the values in this file to be what you want. (Alternatively, if you run Mac OS X in Spanish, you'd use the version of the file inside the "es.lproj" folder) So, for example, you might change:


To be:

    <string>Downloaded Stuff</string>

Save the file (you'll probably have to type in an administrator password to do so), and then pop open Terminal and type killall Finder. When Finder finishes relaunching, you'll see that your Downloads folder now has the name "Downloaded Stuff".

This is the much safer way to do it, because some apps may be hardcoding a path to the downloads folder as @"~/Downloads" and then expanding the tilde. Depending on what they're doing, this may or may not work with symlinks (meaning the apps may not work properly). With the method above, you haven't changed the folder at all. It's still called "Downloads", but it just gets shown as something else. (However, if you ls your home directory in Terminal, it will still show "Downloads" and not "Downloaded Stuff")

The downside of this approach is that you're altering a system file, which means this could get reverted when you update your system, etc.

(Source: http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=20020926061746306)

  • 1
    I like your solution Dave, it's the cleanest but it's not any safer. Since the download folder is just hidden and the symlink points to it (not the other way around), there'll never any conflicts, hardcoding or not. Your solution is just a lot cleaner ;)
    – user10355
    Sep 6, 2011 at 1:08
  • I'm getting this error when trying to save it: "This operation couldn't be completed, because an error occurred. The file could not be opened for writing, probably because it is in use by another application (MacOS Error Code: -54". System Integrity Protection (SIP) needs to be disabled for this to work: m.reddit.com/r/OSXTweaks/comments/3se0b3/…
    – foamroll
    Dec 26, 2015 at 4:36
  • can't seem to edit the above comment, so, clarifying: disable SIP, save, enable SIP: osxdaily.com/2015/10/05/…
    – foamroll
    Dec 26, 2015 at 4:44
  • Editing the "SystemFolderLocalizations.strings" file is useless, because other people on the network will still see the "localized" foldername. Apr 18, 2018 at 14:22
  • Don't know how it was back then, but meanwhile it's a binary plist which you could edit by converting it to xml1 and converting it back to binary1 after edit. Or replace the wanted value by its key path. BUT by trying that you'll get following error message: /System/Library/CoreServices/SystemFolderLocalizations/de.lproj/SystemFolderLocalizations.strings: Read-only file system Also with sudo... Oct 19, 2019 at 22:58

You can create a new folder named "Temp" in your home directory, then in Safari, select Preferences (Command ,) enter image description here

and select "Other" from the drop-down menu for "Save downloaded files to:" enter image description here

Select your newly created Temp folder. If you want a stack for it in the Dock, or you want it in the Finder sidebar, drag it to the appropriate places.

If you want the Downloads folder to disappear, in Terminal, you can run the command

  chflags hidden ~/Downloads
  • This is an elegant solution. +1 for you.
    – user479
    Sep 5, 2011 at 6:29
  • But this will only work for Safari, right? Or do other applications also check this setting?
    – Thilo
    Sep 5, 2011 at 7:14
  • @Thilo, yes, any app that can download a file to your Mac will have an option on where you'd like the files initially stored (not just browsers).
    – user10355
    Sep 5, 2011 at 7:28
  • 3
    @Daniel, I just had a flash, maybe you can add it to your answer: Do what Daniel suggests, and then run "chflags hidden Downloads" to hide the download folder in Finder (will still show up in Terminal I'm afraid). OS X should respect your hidden flag, probably only resetting it on OS X point revision updates. For all intents and purposes, that should be as close as you can get to removing Downloads and getting a "Temp" folder.
    – user10355
    Sep 5, 2011 at 7:30
  • 1
    So it's a separate setting for every app? That's unfortunate.
    – Thilo
    Sep 5, 2011 at 7:46

I've had kind of the same problem. When having for example download or picture folders in left favorite-shortcut-side of finder they change name to main language Swedish when working in Swedish settings.

My solution was to make a alias folder of the original one and using that in favorite-shortcut-side of finder instead. I can rename this alias to whatever I like.

enter image description here


You could also post-process the downloads to test if the new folder is mounted and use a rule engine like Hazel to build up your logic.

The benefits of this are twofold.

  1. You don't mess with the system that expects and is designed for ~/Downloads to exist and be used
  2. The Hazel tool is a general one - once you implement this one "operation" you will likely find other areas to apply that skill/tool and make your environment even more automated and customized while respecting the system design and taking advantage of system capabilities like watch folders and file system notifications.

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