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has been plagued lately with seemingly well-meaning sites suddenly warning me that some piece of software on my Mac is out-of-date and that I need to update 'whatever' (often Flash).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?


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.

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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.

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  • Todd, thanks for the info. With Sierra, however, there doesn't seem to be any way to update Safari beyond 12.1.2. Sierra runs very well on my 2016 MacBook Pro and I'd like to keep it for now. I am aware that the files that were force-downloaded would have to be opened to be activated, but as one who has worked with cybersecurity can see, this can still be potentially dangerous. To me it still appears "out-security". Is there a simple 3rd party remedy? Or maybe I should just start using Firefox... Thanks! – silentrebel May 17 at 12:57
  • I would recommend using macOS Catalina if you are concerned with security as your Mac supports it and as it is more secure in many ways. I don’t think a third party solution would make you any safer. You could try Firefox although I would recommend just updating to Catalina as it has many more benefits than just Safari updates. – Todd May 17 at 16:25
  • Hmm, so there's no way to simply stop 'drive-by' downing of malware from sites without upgrading to Catalina? I have my reasons for sticking with Sierra for now. I just think that our browser should give us final say on whether we want their downloads or not. I would prefer Safari, but I will try a couple of other browsers, see what happens. – silentrebel May 19 at 23:00
  • There is no way that I know of in Safari. Other browsers might have that functionality as you said. – Todd May 19 at 23:10
  • OK. I'll post my findings... – silentrebel May 19 at 23:26

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