Temporary downloads in Firefox, OS X
September 26, 2005 11:04 PM   Subscribe

Firefox on OS X: How can I control which directory files downloaded to be opened by auxiliary applications are stored in?

When I click on a link to, for example, a PDF in Firefox, the PDF file is automatically downloaded to the desktop, and opened from there. I would prefer if it were opened from a temporary directory somewhere else. Is there a way to make this happen?
posted by mr_roboto to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In the Firefox preferences there is a setting to change the download folder. I am not sure this is what you want but I created a download folder and then prune it regularly.

I am not sure what version of Firefox you are using, but in my 1.5B there is a "Downloads" tab in the preferences and there is the option of asking me where to save everything versus save everything to a specified folder (which is by default, I think, set to Desktop in OSX).
posted by synecdoche at 11:22 PM on September 26, 2005

I suppose you could also download to the system /tmp directory, but I wouldn't know the pros or cons about doing that. Also, you can select on the Downloads Panel to be asked every time where to download and you can select different folders for different types of files.
posted by qwip at 11:47 PM on September 26, 2005

Response by poster: Sorry; I guess I didn't make myself clear. I'm not asking about files that I choose to download; I'm asking about files that are automatically opened by helper applications when I click on a link. For example, when I click on a link to a PDF, that file is automatically opened by Preview, but it's also saved on the Desktop. I want the file to be saved somewhere other than the Desktop (for instance, in Firefox for Windows XP, such files are saved in some random temp directory). I already have the preferences set to ask me for a location for files I download; Firefox does not ask me for a location to save the files that are opened by helper applications.

While we're at it; here's another Firefox for OS X annoyance. Every time I type an apostrophe or a slash in a text box, the search function is activated, and the focus goes out of the text box. This is not the behavior in Firefox for other operating systems; search can't be activated from a text input box. Is there any way to disable this?
posted by mr_roboto at 12:59 AM on September 27, 2005

Best answer: Hmm. I don't have that problem as I use the PDF Browser Plugin which opens PDF's in a browser window. You could try that if you are not set on using Preview to view pdf links.
posted by qwip at 1:46 AM on September 27, 2005

Go to "about:config". Search for the preference "applications.tmp_dir". If it's there, right click on it, select modify, and change it to the directory you want to use. If it's not there (it's not for me in Firefox 1.5 Beta 1 on Linux), right click anywhere, select New -> String, input "applications.tmp_dir" as the preference name, and the directory for the value.

It should work without restarting Firefox.
posted by Plutor at 4:35 AM on September 27, 2005

mr_roboto: "While we're at it; here's another Firefox for OS X annoyance. Every time I type an apostrophe or a slash in a text box, the search function is activated, and the focus goes out of the text box."

There's this bug that was fixed 16 August 2005. It's regressed in Firefox 1.5 Beta 1, although the new bug only happens after you launch a second window. You could grab a nightly from the second half of August or the first couple of days of September if this is a really annoying bug.
posted by Plutor at 4:43 AM on September 27, 2005

Response by poster: Plutor writes "There's this bug that was fixed 16 August 2005."

No; that's not it... I'm running 1.0.7, and it happens consistently every single time I type an apostrophe or a slash in a text input box. It makes commenting on Metafilter a real pain in the ass....

Maybe it's one of my extensions; I should try disabling them. Unfortunately, I won't be able to get to my laptop until tonight. 'Till then, thanks for the ideas, guys.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:17 AM on September 27, 2005

According to this page, the "applications.tmp_dir" setting is where Firefox downloads everything. When you complete a download, it moves it to the specified "downloads" directory. In this case, that's the Desktop, so as soon as the OP finished recieving a PDF file to view, it would get moved to his Desktop folder - exactly what he doesn't want.

Unfortunately, mr_roboto, what you do want isn't possible.

You're asking the browser to read your mind and know which files you merely want to view, and which ones you want to keep. If it's a PDF file of a press release, you might just want to read it, but you probably want to keep PDF files of IRS forms or receipts from online purchases. You can see it's not even as simple as saying "download PDF files (or any other MIME type) to this folder instead of the Downloads folder," because that wouldn't be as useful as you might think.

The traditional answer to "I don't want my browser to download this" is, indeed, to provide a plug-in so the browser can view it instead of saving it as a file. Safari does this for PDF files, the QuickTime plug-in does it for all QuickTime-compatible movies and music, and the Flash plug-in does it for ".swf" files.

If you still want to download the file (instead of viewing it in the browser) but want to be asked each time, try telling Firefox not to use a helper application for PDF files. It should then treat them like others and ask you each time, no?
posted by mdeatherage at 11:54 AM on September 27, 2005

Response by poster: I like that plugin, qwip!

The applications.tmp_dir preference didn't do anything for me.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:49 PM on September 29, 2005

Unfortunately firefox is broken on the mac in this regard. You need to install the mimetype editor extension in order to be able to change the way mimetypes behave in Firefox.
posted by mindlace at 3:59 PM on January 22, 2006

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