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Leech - A powerful yet lightweight download manager Pick of the Week
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[Score: 9 out of 10]
I've never been a huge fan of download manager applications -- for my needs, I really felt that Firefox plus the Download Statusbar did everything I'd ever need relative to downloads. Then I spent some time using Many Tricks' new lightweight download manager, Leech. Leech is really best for those who download a lot of files; if you usually only download a couple of files a week, then your browser's built-in tools will probably meet your needs. But if you download a ton of stuff, you may find Leech quickly becoming an indispensable tool.

What does Leech offer that you don't get from your browser's built-in download tools? The biggest issue for me is that downloads are now independent of the browser (once they've begun). So if your browser crashes, you don't then have to start all over with a big set of downloads. Beyond that, though, Leech keeps a fully-searchable (and sortable) history of the files you've downloaded with it, making it easy to find an old download and (among other things) download it again. Leech's dock icon serves as a simple progress indicator, with the arrow icon filling in as downloads progress (and a badge shows how many downloads are in progress). You can limit the number of concurrent downloads, target files for downloading while offline, tell your Mac to shut down when all downloads are complete, use rules to control where downloads wind up based on certain conditions, and much more. Dan Frakes covered Leech as a Mac Gem last week; you can read his detailed write-up if you'd like additional information on the program.

Leech will work as either a standalone application, or as a well-integrated add-on with Safari, Camino, OmniWeb and Firefox (using an add-on named FlashGot; Option-click will send download links to Leech). It works as an add-on by using an Input Manager (in all but Firefox), which some people don't necessarily like to install on their machines. Leech is very clear about how it does what it does, however, explaining in advance how the integration works, and offers an easy uninstall option. (Browser integration is not installed by default; you have to choose a menu item within the program to integrate Leech with your browsers.) I use Leech primarily with Firefox, and the integration via FlashGot works quite well, though it's not quite as seamless of an experience as it is in one of the Input Manager browsers.

If you're using Leech in standalone mode, one annoyance (and one that Leech probably has no ability to overcome) are sites that use redirection links for downloads, such as you'll find on Sending these download links (via drag and drop) to Leech won't work properly, though they'll work just fine when Leech is integrated with the browser (except in Firefox, that is).

This minor issue aside (I use for most of my downloads, as their download links work fine with Leech in either mode), Leech is a great tool if you download a lot of stuff. It takes minimal RAM (it's running with 17MB of real RAM right now), has a clean and effective UI, and offers enough features to make it worth the cost -- at least for a serial demo downloader like me!
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Leech - A powerful yet lightweight download manager
Authored by: pete on Jun 02, '08 07:48:32AM

Being on a rather cruddy satellite connection (the only other high speed options either don't work, or require a pricey aircard), I have tried download managers to see if they can be scheduled during off hours - or just do a better job than my browser.

Leech looked good, but I ended up with 1/2-complete corrupt downloads. The last attempt was the 10.5.3 update for which I managed to get 208 megs before it stopped.

Safari managed to get the complete file. I'll stay with Safari (or Firefox) for my downloading.

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Apple has started...
Authored by: slb on Jun 02, '08 07:04:50PM

Apple has been turning off this kind of download access for security reasons.
It might work well for other sites, but Apple is not letting more and more of thier updates to be downloaded using Speed Download (which I own and use) and the like.
We may see more of this from others, but for me, SD works great 90% of the time.

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Leech - A powerful yet lightweight download manager
Authored by: squarefrog on Jun 02, '08 07:53:05AM
Personally I just use the DownThemAll! firefox extension. It's a great way to download all the media from one page. It's free (donations accepted) and is regularly updated.

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Leech - A powerful yet lightweight download manager
Authored by: tonyy on Jun 02, '08 08:29:13AM

From my experience, Leech is simply trying to copy the best of Speed Download, which in my opinion, blows away Leech in performance. Leech doesn't intercept half of what Speed Download does, and for the money, I find SD a much better value and much more reliable in performance and overall compatibility when resuming from interrupted or unfinished downloads. For those that need it, you also have a very solid implementation of FTP, .Mac, iTunes, and secure filesharing with Speed Download. You can also turn them off and hide them if it's not your thing. Leech is cute but way too simplistic in my opinion. Interface wise, Speed Download is simply very Mac like.

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Leech - A powerful yet lightweight download manager
Authored by: Imaria on Jun 02, '08 03:46:22PM

I use iGetter for all these applications and more; it's been very good to me over time. Offers download acceleration, the same integration options, download rules, etc. Certainly comes recommended from me.

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Leech - A powerful yet lightweight download manager
Authored by: auco on Jun 06, '08 09:05:40AM
I use CocoaWget, that's a Cocoa Front-End for gnu wget. It's simple (drag&drop from anywhere), GPL licensed, very fast and super reliable (never experienced a crash in the past year or so I'm using it). So, no need to pay 10 bucks for something reinventing the wheel: Wget is here since the mid-90ies!

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A screw in search of a hammer
Authored by: alec kinnear on Jun 08, '08 06:21:24AM

Peter Maurer is a brilliant program. Along with Marcel Bresink (TinkerTool, TinkerTool System), Peter might be the best system level enhancement Mac shareware programmer out there. Neither Marcel's nor Peter's work will crash or cripple your Mac with background CPU cycles (unlike some other well known shareware developers - i.e., Default Folder over at St Clair Software).

On the other hand, download enhancers are really a solution in search of a problem. What's in the browser works really well and doesn't break on version upgrades. I do use DownThemAll as one of the other posters does, but DownThemAll is built into the browser and fulfills a very specific function: grabbing a bunch of links from a live web page (which really requires the browser for parsing, although it could be done via WebKit).

If you want to try Peter's work, better to start with Butler (if for nothing else, the multiclipboard), Service Scrubber (makes the service menu usable again for power users), TubiTunes (which grabs flash video and converts it to iPod/Quicktime files), Witch (window switcher) or Open With Manager (cut down your right click contextual menus).

I've donated or paid for most of the above, multiple times in the case of Butler, but I still can't see what it is Peter is trying to solve with Leech.

But be sure to visit ManyTricks and try the other great programs.

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