Mac Option Key tip #07: Option-Click to Download in Safari and Chrome

Updated April 13th, 2020.

(Seventh in a series.)

Ever click a link in Safari (or Chrome), hoping to download a PDF, and instead of downloading, the thing opens up in the browser (or worse, in Acrobat)? That’s a drag. Try it fifty times and fifty times it’s the same– you don’t actually download the PDF, you just see it in the browser.

But, if you hold the Option key when you click the link, you will download a copy to your Mac for later use.

Here’s an example. Suppose you’re looking for tax forms on the IRS website. web page with link to 1040 form web page with link to 1040 form

You find the form you want, and now you want to get a copy and save it to your hard disk. Without the Option key, when you click the Form 1040 link it opens in your browser. You see the form, but you don’t have the form. Here’s what it looks like in your browser:

1040 form loaded in Safari
1040 form loaded in Safari

Nice to look at, but it’s not “yours.” So it’s hard (or impossible) to type anything in the form (or to save it, which you almost certainly want to do).

Try it again, but this time hold the Option key when you click the link. Presto! The file is downloaded to your Downloads folder, or to your Desktop, or wherever it is your downloads go. (Go to Safari/Preferences…/General to determine, or to set, where downloaded files go.) Now it’s just another PDF, something you can double-click and open and fill in and save. Like this:

Filled-in 1040 form, opened in Preview
Filled-in 1040 form, opened in Preview

Try double-clicking on the downloaded 1040 form and typing. It works! And since it’s “your” copy of the 1040, you can save it for later, just like I did. Nice.

Note: this does not work in Firefox. Sorry about that.

And that’s seven.

Click here to see all of my blog posts involving the Option key. Save yourself time and effort with the tips in those posts! Copyright 2008-2023 Christian Boyce. All rights reserved.

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