How to Find Download?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader 'wb7wvo' writes:

" Dear Dennis,

How do I find a program I just downloaded? I tried the Windows Search feature, but it doesn't seem to be able to find it. I recently downloaded a ham radio program to my desktop, but it never showed up. I downloaded it again, but the same thing happened. I can't seem to find my downloads ever since I upgraded to the latest release of Firefox. I feel like I goofed up somehow, but for the life of me I can't find the program I just downloaded. Any suggestions? "

My response:

If the file downloaded successfully, it should be in your Download folder. I'll explain more about that further down, but I also want to point out that the Windows Search won't find any files you just downloaded because it must first index files on the hard drive before any items will show up the search results (instantaneously). The search index is updated automatically using the Windows Search Indexing Service (which runs in the background), but usually only when the computer is idle. The time for the index to complete varies depending on the overall speed of the computer and how any files need indexing.

How to Find Downloaded Files Easily

As I mentioned earlier, you can access your downloaded files using the Download Folder. By default, the Download folder is located at C:\users\your user name\downloads, but you can edit your web browser preferences to change it to another folder location. You can access your download folder directly within the web browser by pressing CTRL + J on the keyboard. This keyboard shortcut works with Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome.

Reasons Why Files Won't Download

If the file you're trying to download doesn't complete, it won't show up in the download folder or your downloaded file list within the browser. Reasons for a failed download might be because of:

1. Connection errors. If the website you're connected to has web server issues, then the connection might break and the download may never complete. Also, if the file you're trying to download is located in another country overseas or in a very remote location, then may be connection issues resulting in a stalled or incomplete download.

2. A dirty file system. If your hard drive has file system errors, it will corrupt the download making it impossible to execute the file, or the download may never complete. To fix file system errors, go to My Computer, right click the C drive (or whichever drive you save your downloads to), select Properties, then go to the Tools tab. Under the Error Checking section, select Check Now. You may need to reset the computer for it to complete the error checking.

3. The file is infected with suspected malware. In this case, the file won't show up in the Download folder because your antivirus program will either quarantine it automatically or delete the file outright. Also note that most modern web browsers have some form of malware scan as soon as a file has been downloaded; if the file is infected, the browser may also reject the file, thereby removing it from the downloaded files list and prevent you from executing it.

Additional Support: From Dennis

If you need additional support trying to locate your downloads, or sorting through files for that matter, I am able to assist you over remote desktop support. Simply contact me using the contact form and we'll set up a time to meet and discuss your options.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question -- or even a computer problem that needs fixing -- please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

Rate this article: 
Average: 4 (4 votes)


eppack's picture

Dennis is correct that Windows Search won't always find everything, but if you don't remember where your download folder is, especially if you changed it, a good FREE search app is Agent Ransack ( which will search everything on the HD immediately upon installation, no indexing required. This has become the only search app I use now. But do set that download folder to something you can remember :)

Ivy, VA
DISCLAIMER: I have no connection whatsoever to Agent Ransack except as a happy user.