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Use a RAMdisk to manage downloads Desktop
My Downloads folder was getting swamped with hundreds of PDF datasheets, although this tip applies to any downloads (such as images) where you may not want to keep all of the files.

The solution is to use another browser (in my case Firefox) and set preferences to download files to a RAMdisk.

Make RAM Disk is a free application, and a few meg won't be missed from your system RAM. You'll probably want to load the RAMdisk at startup so put the application in your System Preferences » Account » Login Items.

I view the RAMdisk volume in List or Cover View and keep the Date Modified column highlighted. This way the last few downloads are easy to find. When you see a file you want to keep, move it to the relevant folder.

RAMdisk is volatile, so you don't need to clean it out. The contents magically disappear at your next system reboot.

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it still works as described in 10.6.6. I tend to be a packrat so I hang on to my downloaded files and then sort through them every few months. If you have very large downloads I'll also refer you to this previous hint, which describes a method to create a large RAMdisk if you have the memory to do it.]
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Use a RAMdisk to manage downloads | 11 comments | Create New Account
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Use a RAMdisk to manage downloads
Authored by: Frederico on Jan 11, '11 09:43:41AM

Sorry. I don't see the advantage to this hint. Who reboots enough to make this hint very useful? Who monitors their downloads folder so carefully as to not lose valuable downloads by forgetting to take inventory before all these frequent shutdowns?

RAM disks offer best possible speed to and from "disk". Other than forcing packratters to clean up -- like it or not -- this hint seems to add needless complexity; it feels like a gun to the head to me, disallowing a fast shutdown or protection from a freeze (rare as they may be).

"Sure, Apple, go ahead and restart after you install your security update. Crap! I forgot to sort my d/l folder first and lost that 9GB DMG file that took seven hours to d/l!"

Seems to me a cron script or a login item to sweep the d/l folder would exactly as useful and not devote precious ram for a single purpose. Unless you have anabundance of ram and never generate more than one swap file all this hint does is increase disk thrash and reduce battery on mobiles.

A cleaner script could also be written to only zap those files that annoy, such as the OP's PDF files, leaving safe those sometimes hard-won DMG updaters and paid-for installers.
I'm generally not so critical of hints; this one just seems like making excuses to use a RAM disk because you can, not because it's particularly useful or better than easier and less chaotic means.



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Use a RAMdisk to manage downloads
Authored by: afingal on Jan 11, '11 11:46:39AM

Right, this isn't exactly the best use case for a RAM disk. The best use I ever got from a RAM disk was ten years or so ago I put my web browser (Netscape) cache on one. This did three things. It sped up web browsing, improved privacy because the cache files would be totally gone after a restart and it prevented disk corruption. Netscape used to be horrible in this regard, frequently requiring the use of Disk Warrior or Norton Utilities to fix. Putting its cache on a RAM disk saved the hard drive. I don't think you'd see the same benefit with the faster computers and less buggy software of today but maybe it would still make some difference.



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Use a RAMdisk to manage downloads
Authored by: TonyT on Jan 11, '11 11:49:53AM

Agreed. This is a very poor hint (there's been a lot of those lately)
A better 'hint' is to move the d/l folder to the Trash weekly via a launchd script, and use another launchd to clean the Trash of files older than a month.



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Use a RAMdisk to manage downloads
Authored by: boredzo on Jan 16, '11 12:02:48AM
Who reboots enough to make this hint very useful?
I do. I shut down my computer nearly every day, except in cases of long downloads/iTunes queues I want to leave running overnight.
Who monitors their downloads folder so carefully as to not lose valuable downloads by forgetting to take inventory before all these frequent shutdowns?

Nobody, but that means nothing.

I simply test everything I download immediately after it finishes (Growl helps a lot with this). If I want to keep it, I move it to the hard disk. If not, I leave it where it is, knowing that it will go away when I shut down or restart.

"Sure, Apple, go ahead and restart after you install your security update. Crap! I forgot to sort my d/l folder first and lost that 9GB DMG file that took seven hours to d/l!"
I would never download a 9 GB file to the RAM disk, even if I had the RAM. Everything larger than half a GB that I download is something I know I'm going to want to keep, so I download that sort of thing straight to the hard drive.

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Use a RAMdisk to manage downloads
Authored by: xSmurf on Jan 11, '11 10:48:51AM

This seems like a waste of RAM, why not point your download folder to /tmp, it is also volatile and gets cleared on reboot. Not that either solution help people with desktops who rarely reboot.

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MacBook Pro 2.16Ghz / 2Gb / 100Gb 7200rpm / CD/DVD±RW
PM G4 DP 800 / 1.25gb / 120Gb+80Gb / CD/DVD±RW/RAM/DL
- The only APP Smurf



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Use a RAMdisk to manage downloads
Authored by: uxjw on Jan 11, '11 11:05:04AM
Somehow I don't think many people would want to give up precious ram for downloads. You could setup a script or automator action to run on startup, or use an app like Hazel.

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Use a RAMdisk to manage downloads
Authored by: asmeurer on Jan 11, '11 03:38:55PM
a few meg won't be missed from your system RAM
I will miss a few megs of system RAM much more than a few megs of hard drive space. Seriously, modern hard drives are hundreds of Gigabytes if not Terrabytes in size. Just do what I do and let everything accumulate in your Downloads folder without ever worrying about it (unless the download is larger than 100MB or so). You never know when someday you will be looking for that PDF and spotlight will find it for you.

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Use a RAMdisk to manage downloads
Authored by: excarnate on Jan 11, '11 09:03:59PM

Excellent and timely (Lifehacker just had a similar hint). My MacBook Air has a pretty small disk, and it is an SSD, so I'll move my cache there (I already download to a network drive).



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Use a RAMdisk to manage downloads
Authored by: nickvisic on Jan 11, '11 11:58:17PM

dude, use firefox pdf plugin for mac os x.

you will view the pdf's in your browser without it downloading to your drive.



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Use a RAMdisk to manage downloads
Authored by: wgscott on Jan 13, '11 06:16:24AM

Why not just use the /tmp directory?



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Use a RAMdisk to manage downloads
Authored by: david-bo on Jan 14, '11 11:08:15AM

You stole the words from me:-) That is exactly what I do. Then files are automatically deleted after a week (?). An excellent solution.

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