Google Chrome 101: How to Manage Downloads

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The other day I explained how (and why) to make Gmail the default e-mail client in Google Chrome. Then it occurred to me that lots of users are probably trying Google's browser for the first time -- and maybe having some trouble learning the basics.

With that in mind, I thought I'd cover a few Chrome essentials -- starting with downloads.

When it comes to download files, not all browsers are created equal. In Internet Explorer, for example, clicking a download link produces a pop-up bar along the bottom of the screen, asking if you want to run or save the file.

In Firefox, the browser I used prior to Chrome, you get a pop-up requester front and center, followed by a big ol' status window. For anyone accustomed to this, Chrome can be a head-scratcher.

Indeed, it's easy to overlook the arrival and status of a file download -- especially if you're accustomed to looking near the top of the screen or seeing a pop-up window.

Chrome's download-status indicator appears quietly and unobtrusively in the lower-left corner of the screen. If you blink, you'll miss the little arrow that flashes at the start of the download. (Google no doubt added this because so many people had trouble finding any evidence of download activity.)

Of course, now that you know where to look, you're all set. When the download is done, you can click it to run or open the file, or click the little arrow alongside it for a handful of options (including the always-handy Show in folder, which opens the folder containing the download).

Want to view all your downloads? Press Ctrl-J to open Chrome's download manager in a new tab. You can also click the little wrench icon in the top-right corner of the screen, then click Downloads.

This may seem like a simple, obvious thing, but it took me a while to get accustomed to Chrome's tucked-away-in-a-corner download indicator. Hopefully this will help you get to know Google's browser a little bit better.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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