I'm not the only one who has been plagued lately with seemingly well-meaning sites suddenly warning me that some piece of software on my Mac is out-of-date and that I need to update 'whatever' (often Flash). Then, my browser just goes ahead and accepts their download (probably malware) onto my computer and I can't stop it. How can we stop Safari from downloading files without asking first? It seems that these infected sites 'push' the downloads on you, and Safari does nothing to stop it. BTW I'm using Sierra (10.12.6) and Safari 12.1.2. I hear that this happens with other browsers as well. Open "Safe Files" after downloading checkbox is not checked. Any ideas?

  • Also consider installing an ad-blocker in Safari, (like the free AdGuard) - ad blocker also blocks many malicious websites.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 18:39

3 Answers 3


The real solution is upgrading to Safari 13, but there does exist a solution on Safari 12 and earlier.

Open Safari Preferences, choose the General tab, and for the download location choose ‘ask for each download’.

With this option select, Safari will prompt for a file name and a location to save the file, which you can cancel so the download doesn't take place.

  • 1
    The only relevant answer here that specifically addresses the stated need. Suggestion: Please include info on adding ad-blockers on Safari, as that will be helpful too.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 18:31
  • @sfxedit that would be better as a new, narrow question IMO
    – bmike
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 18:58
  • @bmike It would be relevant here as ad-blockers also help in blocking such malicious sites, as the user encountered.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 19:02
  • I don't know a lot about ad blockers or how they work. I'll need to research that.
    – user375909
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 15:27

Update Safari to its latest version. Apple updated it in macOS Catalina so that you need to allow downloads. Also, you can check in Safari Preferences in the website section. Note that auto run is deprecated so don’t worry if the download happens. Just navigate to it and delete it.


By researching over a half dozen sites regarding browsers, I've been able to determine that the only browsers one should use for an older OS such as Sierra are ones that are still updated regularly, otherwise they are not secure. With Firefox, and perhaps others, you get a window naming the item and requiring the user's approval before downloading, which would solve my immediate complaint.

I was not able to find the offending website again, so I don't yet know for a fact that this can stop a deliberate attempt to dump the file on the user.

However, Todd's answer was fundamentally correct; if one wanted to rely on Safari as their primary browser, then that would be one of many reasons why they would be best advised to upgrade to Catalina. I would add that if, for whatever reason, one were not yet able or prepared to upgrade the OS, then a different browser should be used.

  • See grg's answer. I am surprised no one has suggested this so far!
    – sfxedit
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 18:33
  • @grg Good show! Actually, this was the sort of answer I was hoping for in the first place, because I never wanted to change to a different browser. It is a clever answer, as this function in Safari does not appear to have been intended as a security measure, but rather as an organizational convenience. I have now set my Safari browsers accordingly.
    – user375909
    Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 2:21
  • If grg's answer satisfies you, please mark it as the answer.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 18:36

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