How to Delete Downloads

By Paul Higgins

Learn how to delete files you downloaded off the Internet from your hard drive and clear your browser's downloads list.

Prevent other users from taking a look at the files you downloaded off the Internet by deleting the contents of your Windows Downloads folder. To further protect your privacy, clear the list of downloaded files in Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer.

Delete Your Downloads

By default, Windows 7 or 8 saves your downloaded files in a specific folder, which you can access by launching Windows Explorer.

Step 1

Click the Windows Explorer icon in your Taskbar or open your Windows Start Screen or Start Menu and select Windows Explorer from the list of applications.

Step 2

Select Downloads from the sidebar to open the Downloads folder.

Tip

By default, Windows Explorer lists the Downloads folder under Favorites. If you removed the shortcut from the Favorites category, open the Downloads folder by navigating to the following folder: C:\Users\\Downloads.

Favorites category in Windows Explorer.

Step 3

Select the files you want to delete from your Downloads folder. Right-click the selected files and select Delete to send those files to the Recycle Bin.

Tip

  • To permanently delete the files without sending them to the Recycle Bin, hold down Shift and press the Delete key.
  • Using dedicated recovery software, users may still be able to access your files even after you deleted them. To permanently wipe the files off your hard drive and prevent their recovery, consider downloading and installing a free data removal tool such as ShredIt, Active@KillDisk or Eraser.
  • Some applications may save downloaded files in alternate folders. Internet Explorer, for example, saves downloaded pictures to your computer's Photos folder.

Clear Your Browser's Downloads list

Google Chrome

Press Ctrl-J to open Chrome's Downloads page and click Clear All to clear the list.

Select Open Downloads Folder to access the Windows Downloads folder.

Mozilla Firefox

Press Ctrl-J to open Firefox's Library window and select Clear Downloads.

Click the Open Containing Folder icon to access the directory containing the downloaded file.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

Press Ctrl-J and click the Clear List button.

Internet Explorer View Downloads window.

Each of the major browsers keeps a record of files you downloaded, which persists even after you delete them from the Downloads folder. Prevent users from sneaking a peek at your downloads by clearing your browser's downloads list.

Warning

Clearing your browser's downloads list does not delete the downloaded files.