New Safari downloads UI in Lion

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Looks like we’re getting a new downloads UI in Safari. In the latest OS X Lion build there’s a popover revealing current and finished downloads, activated with a button just right of the search engine field in the toolbar. I like it.

The upcoming downloads popover

All major browsers implements some kind of download manager: either a separate window (Safari, Firefox) or a separate tab (Chrome, Opera). I’m not a huge fan of either of them:

  • The separate window model makes me want to close the window after the download finishes. It’s just clutter anyway. I want it out of my way. This was automatically done for me in Firefox, but not in Safari until quite late. However, I don’t like having a completely separate window layer for downloads — if you ask me, their level of importance can’t justify a new window.
  • A new tab for downloads? No, no, no. You don’t think I’ve got tons of tabs open already? I don’t want to lose another one … This is too far away in the opposite direction of the point above – downloads are more important than regular web pages, but less important than a new browser window.

This download UI is a great start: it’s unobstrusive, doesn’t get in my way, and it’s always accessible. I won’t have to navigate to a specific tab, or find this special window.

As Alexander Limi of the Firefox UX team writes (, he and the rest of the team proposed this kind of behavior some time ago, exploring the concept in an in-depth article (I really recommend it — great usability and problem solving discussion).

I truly hope this UI widget will make it to the final version of Lion.