I was given the http://some_url/file.rar address of a very large file (8 GB). I want to download it directly to my external HDD. I haven't found any way to do this other than opening a terminal and typing these commands:

cd /Volumes/ExternalDisk
curl http://some_url/file.rar > file.rar

So the good old Unix solved my problem. But is it possible that OS X hasn't got such a capability?

I know I can type the URL in Safari and then option-click, but I need to change the default download directory. Similar approach with Firefox.

Another possibility I found is to create an Automator script made of two steps:

  1. select URL
  2. download to...

It works, but is not a built-in solution as requires the user make the script and package it in an app.

Is there a better a more Mac-style way to do this (without using external applications)? To see such a feature in the Finder would be nice.

  • 1
    Not sure if I'm understanding correctly - do you just want your browser to prompt you where to save every file you download? If so, both Firefox and Chrome can do this, but Safari can't to the best of my knowledge. – mjturner Feb 22 '12 at 22:05
  • The point is: I have been given a URL, this URL points to a file. I don't want to use the browser, I want to know the easiest way to download this file in a local path I can select. I could make a very easy Obj-C tool or Automator script to do this, but I'm looking for a direct solution provided by Apple in the OS and for non-geek! – viggio24 Feb 23 '12 at 7:43

According to Apple Support, you can change the default Download directory in Safari:

If you like, you can change the default folder for storing downloads by using your browser’s preferences. To specify a different folder in Safari, choose Safari > Preferences, and then click General.

You should then be able to switch to use your external HDD by default.

As other posters have noted, Firefox and Chrome can also be configured to use a different download directory.

It might be possible to directly save a file (if a link is provided) by right clicking and selecting the Download Linked File As... option. Select your desired location and save the file.

  • Unfortunately "Download linked file as..." is not available as the url is not a link in an existing web page. As far as the Safari download solution, is what I said in my question but it requires to temporarily change the default download location, which is annoying. – viggio24 Feb 23 '12 at 7:45

Have you tried using the native FTP app under File Sharing? Not sure if it will allow you to save to an external disk though. Haven't tried that but it works great for saving into the local desktop and from there moving it to whatever location you want or you can put an Automator script to move the file after it's being downloaded.

  • I don't want to save in the Desktop, my SSD is already full... Besides this would require two steps: download and file move. I want to do direct download instead. – viggio24 Feb 23 '12 at 7:46

Well, by definition the standard "end user" tool to download a file accessible via URL is the browser. If you don't want to use the browser, there isn't an OS provided tool other than curl.

If you want to make it more user friendly and don't want to use a third party tool (like Cyberduck for example, although it doesn't support http downloads), your best solution is probably to wrap curl in an AppleScript.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .