If you do a lot of downloading through your web browser (and not via bittorrent or Usenet), it’s almost a necessity to have some type of download manager. This is because most web browsers don’t offer much in the way of download management.
Sure, Firefox and Safari and other browsers have a download window, but it doesn’t let you really control your downloads. If you have twenty items you want to download, all from the same site, you probably don’t want to have them all running at once. You’d eat up a ton of bandwidth, slowing down each individual file, and probably anoying the site you’re downloading from.
But if you’re downloading large files, it can be a pain to sit there until one file finishes in order to start the next one, and then the next, and then the next, until all your downloads are complete. This is functionality that’s missing from most web browsers, but if you use Firefox, a fantastic extension called DownThemAll gives you more control.
The Firefox Add-ons site is a fantastic website where you can go to browse through hundreds of different Firefox extensions. It’s nicely categorized and offers ratings and reviews, but if you know what you’re looking for, as we do, you can actually download and install extensions from within Firefox itself. To get to the Firefox Add-ons page, just click the Tools menu, then choose Add-ons.
Once there, making sure the Search tab is selected, type DownThemAll into the text field at the top of the page. Hit Enter and a list similar to what is shown below will appear.
Simply click the Install button, and when the extension is downloaded and installed, click the Restart now link.
Firefox should start up again, opening a helpful DownThemAll tab (which can be accessed whenever you want by typing about:downthemall into the URL bar). Dismiss this for now; DownThemAll is now ready to use.
Downloading Files With DownThemAll
From now on, you can access everything DownThemAll has to offer when it comes time to save a file you want to download. Let’s say you just have a single file to download, go ahead and click like normal.
You can also, if you want, right click on the download link. In the contextual menu, you’ll notice a new DownThemAll option; it’s highlighted below.
The standard download window will appear, but there is now a new DownThemAll option. Go ahead and select that option, then click the OK button.
Now the real DownThemAll interface appears.
Since we’re only downloading a single file in this example, there’s not a lot to do. Just choose a download location, hit the Start button, and the DownThemAll download window will appear. Note that in the following screenshot, we’re already downloading half a dozen files.
As you can see above, we have six items in our queue, with only two of them active. The other four have been paused. This is a great feature DownThemAll gives us: we can pause downloads, and unless the download site explicitly disallows this (as many file sharing websites do, of course), we can pick up the download at a later date.
You also have the advantage with DownThemAll of using parallel downloads on the same file. This means that DownThemAll requests different parts of the same file, which allows it do download the file more quickly. This is really only effective if the website you’re downloading from limits the bandwidth per connection; if a website already allows you do download files as fast as your connection can handle, there’s no advantage to this feature.
DownThemAll has an added feature of being able to scan a web page and show you everything on it that you can download. This feature can be accessed by right-clicking on a page that includes a lot of links, or images, being careful to click somewhere that isn’t a link or image.
A new window will appear, now showing links to all the files on the page.
Of course, you probably don’t want to download every file on the page (in the example above, there are multiple versions of all the songs from a live concert, in three different formats). To specify which ones you want, you simply need to click the little circles located to the left of each item. When you’ve selected the files you want, again provide a download location, and hit the Start button. Or, if you want to start them later, click the Add Paused button.
DownThemAll also includes filters, which let you automatically select files based on file type or by file name. These are also on the main download window above; a close-up can be seen below.
Using filters is simple. DownThemAll includes a set of standard filters, so it can quickly pick out different file types, such as software, images, archives, documents, videos, and audio. Or, if searching by title, you can fill in the fast filtering box, which allows us to search for files that include MP3 in their title.
You can also use default filters and fast filters together. This would allow you to have DownThemAll identify all audio files, then you could use a fast filter to pick out any by a particular artist, or of a particular album. Combining filters also lets you exclude certain documents (when looking for music), that might also include text you are otherwise filtering for.
Finally, when downloading, DownThemAll offers information on each file being downloaded. Simply hover your mouse above the entry in the download window, and an informative pop-up appears.
There’s a lot more to DownThemAll, but these are the basics. If you’re looking for a powerful download manager that truly gives you complete control of what – and when – to download, then DownThemAll is what you need.