5 Tricks for the Activity and Downloads Windows in Safari

Both the Downloads and Activity windows are accessible from the Window menu in Safari. Most people are familiar with the Downloads window as it pops up whenever you click a link to download a file. On the other hand, the Activity window is not as well known even though it is just as useful. Both can be easily accessed using keyboard shortcuts: Command-Option-L for downloads and Command-Option-A for activity.

When you first open the Activity window, it will show a list containing the titles of every Safari window you have open. Clicking the disclosure triangle next to one of the names will expand it to list every item on the page. As well as the HTML files and scripts, this includes media such as images and movies that are on the page.

1. Investigate problems
One of the best uses of the Activity window is to check the cause of a problem. If you are browsing a page and it fails to load, or it is taking ages to open, try taking a look in the Activity window. Down the right hand side you will see the size of each item. If an item is still loading this will show you how much has loaded, and if there is a problem you will see "not found" or "timed out".

Activity Window Problem

2. View movies in their own window
Some services (such as YouTube) provide a full screen button, but often you may find yourself having to watch a tiny video embedded in a web page. To get the movie in its own window, use the Activity window. Click the disclosure triangle on the left of the page with your embedded movie in to expand the list of every element in the page.

If you are watching a Quicktime movie, the item you want is probably the biggest one in the list. It may also continue loading after the rest of the page has finished. Look for a file extension of .mov or .mpg. Once you find it, simply double-click on it to open it up in its own window.

If you are watching a flash video that doesn't have a full screen button, you will need to find the .swf file. This is not necessarily the largest file.

3. Download embedded media
When a movie or music file is embedded in a page, it is not always easy to download it. If there was a link to the file, you could just hold the Option key and click it, but what do you do if there isn't?

For Quicktime movies and MP3 files, this is easy. Open up the Activity Window and locate the file. it should be a relatively large file with something like a .mov, .mpg or .mp3 file extension. Once you have found it, simply hold Option and double-click on it. Alternatively, pressing Option-Return will download whatever item is selected in the list.

For flash videos, you will want the .flv file. It's not always obvious which file this is. It should be the largest file on the page, and may still be loading. For YouTube videos, it is called get_video and doesn't have the .flv extension. Double-clicking this file will start it downloading. If the file doesn't have the .flv extension, you will have to add it on after the download has finished. To watch these movies you will need either the Perian Quicktime plugin or a player such as VLC.

Youtibe Video File

4. Paste and drag into Downloads Window
A little known feature of the downloads window is that you can copy and paste an address into it. Say you want to download a movie that you have listed in the Activity window. Simply select it, choose copy (Command-C) and then click on the Downloads window. Now just choose paste (Command-V) and the movie will start downloading. This works with any kind of link or address. One of the best uses for this is if you have a long list of addresses. Simply select them all together and then copy and paste them into the Downloads window. All of the downloads will begin at the same time.

If copying and pasting isn't for you, you can either use the Option-click method, or you can simply drag things into the Downloads window. Drag links, selections, and even pictures onto the Downloads window to download them.

5. Bookmark all tabs
This is a nice trick to bookmark every page you have open at the same time. This is useful if you want to preserve all your open windows when you quit Safari so you can easily open them all up again next time you open Safari.

Start by opening up the Activity window. Collapse all the disclosure triangles so all you see is the titles of each page. Select all (Command-A) and copy the selection to the clipboard (Command-C). Now open up the Bookmarks window (Command-Option-B). Find where you want to keep these bookmarks and then paste (Command-V).

A good place to put them is in a folder on the Bookmarks Bar. Now, next time you open up Safari you can click on the folder in the bar and select "Open in Tabs" from the bottom of the menu. Alternatively, you can use the Auto-Tab method.

This trick is also great for reordering your tabs. Paste them into your bookmarks and them open them up again in the order that you want them.
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