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Temporary files in Firefox on OSX

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Both Firefox and Thunderbird have an annoying habit on OSX of placing every file you open on your desktop. PDF links, Word files, and email attachments I open all end up on the desktop instead of a temporary location where they belong. If I wanted to save the file to a permenant location, I would have. There appears to be no solution for this other than manually deleting the files off the desktop every so often. I

There’s a fix in the Mozilla trunk that takes care of this, so I hope it will come to Firefox and Thunderbird soon.

Adam Kalsey
February 2, 2006 10:36 PM

Phil pointed out via email that Mozilla uses OSX's default download directory as the place to store temp files. I looked at the code and there's no preference to change this setting (line 1519 of nsExternalHelperAppService.cpp if you care). You can, however change the OSX default download directory, although it's not particularly intuitive. Just change Safari's default download directory and Moz will start using that as the new temp file directory.

Hendrik
February 28, 2006 5:39 PM

Ah ! I am so glad to have found this. Firefox dumping stuff all over my Documents folder has been driving me nuts. Awesome!

Steve Love
April 18, 2006 9:34 AM

Thanks so much for posting this. There are days when I do nothing but open e-mail attachments in Thunderbird, which makes a huge mess of my desktop. One of my biggest frustrations is now solved.

Thomas
July 21, 2006 7:46 AM

Excellent, thanks for pointing out this dependency between Safari and Mozilla. I had this behaviour in Seamonkey or Mozilla two years ago, and suddenly it disappeared - probably because I changed the setting in Safari to a temp directory as well. Suddenly today it came back - probably because Safari had forgotten its preference, due to a full harddisk, or a unmounted external volume. Now I made a note in my Mozilla prefs directory ;)

Kyle Freeman
August 28, 2006 11:02 PM

w00t! Thanks for the awesome tip.

retrocool
October 5, 2006 5:19 AM

Is there a fix for this littering behaviour in Thunderbird? I tried changing the preference in Firefox, but this doesn't sort the 'bird! retrocool, london UK

Nick B
October 18, 2006 8:11 AM

Awesome tip! I would also like to note that these two methods can be combined. IE: Change the 'temp' folder with Safari, and actually make it a 'temp' folder by implementing the boolean operator in firefox's about:config settings. Then your desktop will be clear, and the temp folder will be erased every time you quit firefox, keeping your disk space freed up!

Zach S
November 3, 2006 7:22 AM

In Thunderbird 1.5 or later, about:config is accessed via "Thunderbird -> Preferences... -> Advanced -> General -> Config Editor (button)"

Ben
November 7, 2006 4:00 PM

So does this fix work with FF 2.0 as well? I've tried it and I can't seem to figure out if it does or not. Thanks.

Zach S
December 8, 2006 10:24 AM

Yes this works with FF 2.0

Sebti
December 28, 2006 7:40 AM

Hi Zach and others, Thanks so much for these hints. The proposed solutions (redirection of the temporary files directory) works fine with FireFox, and Thunderbird, but deleting these temp. files works only on FFox. I tried to create a new variable: app.helperApps.deleteTempFileOnExit and set it to true, as suggested by Zach and Phil, but it does not work. May be the name of the variable should be something else. I appreciate any help. thanks,

Sebti
December 28, 2006 8:03 AM

Finaly, the above hints are also working with thunderbird. again, thanks so much for these awsome tips. Regards, Sebti

David Goldenberg
January 29, 2007 2:33 PM

Hi, I just stumbled onto this connection between Safari and Thunderbird myself. I would *really* like to be able to have separate folders for things that I download in Safari versus Thunderbird attachments. Does anyone have any idea how this might be done? Can downloads from Firefox be kept separate from Thunderbird attachments. That might be enough to make me switch to Firefox! Thanks very much for any suggestions

Eric
February 23, 2007 2:44 PM

Adam, thanks for the post and the ensuing thread. This has been a very annoying bug that I no longer have to worry about.

Hannes Tydén
May 5, 2007 9:09 AM

Many thanks!

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