Why Downloading is Not Working in Chrome–and 2 Easy Fixes

Chrome blocks multiple downloads by default. While it may seem that downloading is not working, Chrome is addressing another problem: being bombarded by multiple downloads that you never asked for. The first file may download just fine but nothing happens when you click to download the second one. You are experiencing a “feature”!

Before I get to how to fix downloading in Chrome, let me mention…

Other Possible Reasons that Downloading is Not Working

Factors that can affect downloading:

  1. Poor Internet connection. The download may stop before the entire file is downloaded or you are unable to start the download in the first place. An unstable connection can make downloading hit-and-miss; try again and you may get lucky.
  2. No disk space on your computer. Delete something else first.
  3. Browser cache is full. Try clearing it.
  4. Security software rates as “unsafe” the site or the file you are trying to download. If you are sure it is safe, you can either tell the security software to make an exception or turn off the software until you have finished downloading.
  5. A software virus is interferring. Some viruses target the downloading of specific anti-virus software, deliverately making it harder to fix an infection. Since there are so many anti-virus products available, however, some viruses won’t let you download anything at all. If you suspect a virus is the problem, try downloading anti-virus software to another computer and then using a USB drive or memory card to copy it to the computer that needs it.

Back to Chrome…

Set Chrome to Allow Multiple Downloads on a Single Website

Whether or not you can download multiple files depends upon your Chrome settings. You can control such settings both globally or for specific sites.

When dowloading is not working, look for the download warning icon that appears to the right of the page URL with the tool tip, "This site attempted to download multiple files automatically."
Chrome Download Warning Icon

When you try to download a second file and Chrome blocks it, you can change the setting immediately. Just look for the warning icon next to the page URL. Click that icon (you can also tab to it) to open a small dialog box giving you several options.

Dialog box allows change of setting for multiple downloads.
Dialog Box Reached by Clicking Multiple Downloads Warning

To override the block for multiple downloads just for the site you are on, click the first radio button: “Always allow [page URL] to download multiple files.” If you wish to change the global settings instead, click the “Manage” button (lower left in the same dialog box) to go to the global site settings. Otherwise, click the “Done” button when you have finished.

How to Change Global Settings for Multiple Downloads

In the global settings area, not only can you change the multiple downloads setting globally, but also set exceptions for individual websites and view the exceptions that have already been set.

In the previous section, I showed how to use the multiple downloads warning icon. However, that warning icon is not always there. One reason is that your settings may already allow multiple downloads. In any case, you can also reach the (annoyingly nested) Chrome settings as follows:

"Site settings" via "Privacy and security" on the "Settings" menu.
How to Reach “Site Settings”
“Automatic Downloads” Found under “Additional Permissions”
  1. Click the three vertical dots in the upper right of the screen (not pictured. It is in the same row as the website URL, just below the “X” that closes tha browser.)
  2. Click “Settings.”
  3. Click “Privacy and Security.”
  4. Click “Site Settings.”
  5. Scroll down and click “Additional Permissions.”
  6. Click on “Automatic Downloads.” (If you don’t see that, click on “Additional Permissions” again, to toggle that open, whereupon you should see “Automatic Downloads” in the second line below that.)
  7. From there you can choose to allow sites to download multiple files automatically–after they ask nicely first–or disallow more than one file to download from the site. Note that below the global option are sections where you can deny or allow multiple file downloads on an individual site basis.
Settings choices: "Sites can ask to automatically download multiple files," or "Don't allow sites to automatically download multiple files." Below that you can add websites not allowed automatically to download multiple files, and below that you can add sites that are allowed to do so.
Global and Site-Specific “Automatic Downloads” Settings

As you may have guessed from my parenthetical comment near the beginning, I hate looking for options I cannot seem to find. When Chrome downloading was not working for me, I tried to follow instructions from three different websites before I figured out the steps they were missing. Hopefully this artice will help you avoid my frustration.

For more information about downloading in Chrome, see Google’s “Download a File” support page.

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