What happens if I clear my downloads folder?

I’ve been asked what happens when you clean the downloads folder on your PC. Readers want to know if you’ve downloaded a program there and clear the folder, will the program continue to work?

That’s a great question.  The Downloads folder is the default download location for programs, images, and other files downloaded from online.

It’s important to keep track of that folder because it can fill up fast. Whenever you download a document, PDF, image, or video from online, it’s a good idea to immediately move it to the appropriate folder like Pictures, Documents, etc…  That makes sure that you can find it when you need and that you don’t accidentally delete it. If you delete a picture or a document from the Downloads folder unless you’ve moved it somewhere else, it will be deleted.

Programs work a little differently. Generally, what you download is the installer for the program. A program that does just what the name suggests, installs the program. The program is then installed in the appropriate location on your PC, under the Programs file.


To check out the contents of your Downloads folder, type Downloads in your Windows search box and click on the results.


You can sort items in your Downloads folder by name, download date, and type of file. Click on the heading to sort.

If you aren’t sure exactly what an item in your downloads folder is, the type of file can be an important clue.

2 thoughts on “What happens if I clear my downloads folder?

  1. Downloads folder comment:

    I kind of hate the downloads folder for precisely the reasons cited. I would like to note I never use it. Some people seem to find this a strange concept (mainly company tech support people who think no one can think outside the default), but you don’t really need it. I have all my browsers set to ask for destination on every downloaded file. So far as I know, every browser has an entry for this on the settings menu. If you choose the destination before you download, you will be able to find your item, and it’s more a one-step process than downloading and moving. For examples, a “pdf” that wants completion will be directed to my formtyper program folder. I created a directory on the C root, called “install,” to which I direct all installers and software I purchased by download. It’s always right there if I need to reinstall something. If you lack the final folder you want, you can create the folder first. For instance, create a subfolder in your pictures folder for, say, “Grandma 90th Birthday,” and then download all the shared party photos directly into that folder.

  2. Thank you so much for this idea! The “old” Google browser automatically did that. Google Chrome doesn’t. I checked settings and there is a box to specify where to download files. Saving all those downloads slowed down my computer. I assumed I could delete them once they were saved in a folder, but thought I should check. Thank you making this easier. 🙂

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