I tried using symbolic links but they make me lose the default's Downloads icon which I don't want.

Is there a way I can just made files saved or downloaded to the system's Downloads folder be automatically moved and stored to an external drive?

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    Can you please continue the discussion in chat. – nohillside Oct 7 '17 at 9:48

You could do it with a Automator Folder Action workflow:

  • Automator > New > Folder Action
    • Set: Folder Action receives files and folders added to Choose folder to: Downloads
  • Add the following Actions:
  • Get Folders Contents
    • [ ] Repeat for each subfolder found - Leave unchecked.
  • Filter Finder Items
    • Find files where:
      • None of the following are true
      • Name ends with .download
        • This is to avoid moving a file Safari is currently downloading.
      • Kind is folder
        • This is to avoid moving just the contents of the folder.
      • Kind is other alias
  • Move Finder Items
    • To: Downloads [ ] Replacing existing files
      • Obviously in this instance Downloads is the one on the external drive.
      • You can choose to check or not: Replacing existing files
  • New Alias

    • In: Downloads
      • Obviously in this instance Downloads is the one in your Home folder.
        If you do not want an alias created for each moved file, then omit this action.
  • Save the Automator Folder Action workflow, e.g.; Move to External Downloads

To stop and or remove a Folder Action: In Finder, you can select the target folder and right-click on it and select Folder Action Setup... from the Services menu section of the Context menu.

Automator Folder Action Workflow

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