Three Download Managers for Mac (and Do You Need Them?)

The market for download managers has always been small and shady, at least for the Mac. I’ve never really needed one, although I am also not entirely happy with how the downloads are managed through the Downloads folder. However, for people who spend a lot of their time downloading huge files, sometimes the few extra features that download managers offer could come in handy.

While the market for these type of apps isn’t very big, here we’ll present to you some of the best options we could find. Why would you need a download manager? Which one suits your needs? Let’s find out.

Why Use a Download Manager?

As far as I can tell, download managers aren’t widely used anymore. With the average internet speed that ISP’s offer now being so high and the implementation of better handling of downloads from both browsers and operative systems, developers just have all but forgotten about creating apps like this.

However, some may argue that they still find them useful, and with enough reason. People that need to download huge files on a daily basis may find it very helpful to have an app that lets you organize, filter and limit the speed of each download to avoid slowing down their network.

But the truth is, as a conventional Mac user you are probably used for things being simple and uncomplicated. You want a completely integrated experience, and the Downloads folder that comes with your Mac (coupled with your browser of choice) provides just that. It’s a simple, easy to understand folder in your hard drive where anything that you download will be saved. I think installing a download manager, in a way, breaks that system integration and tarnishes that experience.

If you are an average user comfortable with your browser and Mac OS’s ways of managing downloads, you likely have no need for one of these apps. However if you want a little more control over your downloads, like scheduling them ahead of time, queuing them and limiting their speed so that it doesn’t slow down your browsing; then you should check out a few of the most popular download managers that we found for you.

Speed Download

Speed Download is probably the most widely used app in this category, and also the most expensive. It’s made by a fancy company called Yazsoft that also makes some other cool products. I’ve heard mixed things about it. Some people say it performs very well and has plenty of features, but I’ve also heard that for some people it slowed down their system and caused a multitude of bugs.

It comes with plenty of features like being able to share files with other users of the app, as well as support for FTP clients and the iDisk. It also has the usual features that you would expect from a download manager: prioritization of downloads, the ability to pause and resume downloads, “turbo” downloads, browser compatibility, etc. The app also advertises more speed in your downloads, but from what I hear that is mostly subjective.

Price: $25
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later
Developer: Yazsoft

iGetter

iGetter

iGetter is a free, but old-fashioned looking downloaded manager. Don’t let its looks deceive you, it is actually quite up-to-date and it’s compatible with most current versions of browsers. It’s not that fancy with its features, it has the usual stuff like resuming downloads, queuing and it advertises an “accelerator” of some sort, but outside of that there’s nothing out of the ordinary.

If you are looking for a functional and free alternative, iGetter is probably your best bet. I’ve heard comments that it works pretty well, and you certainly can’t beat the price.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.2 or later
Developer: Presenta

Leech

Leech is a discrete and beautifully designed download manager that will go very well with your Mac’s theme. It’s not the most powerful tool out there, but it gets the job done with features like browser integration, queues, history, and more that you can check in this review we did about it.

If I were to use a download manager (which I don’t need at the moment), I would probably go with Leech, as it is just very simple, pretty and Mac-friendly. It might not work for someone who wants to use limit the speed of downloads or use an FTP client, but it does the job for me.

Price: $14
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 or later
Developer: Many Tricks

Conclusion

Download managers might have been useful back when we had slower connections and were required to time and organize everything we downloaded, but currently the truth is, unless you are a power user or have a slow connection, you probably could do well without one. Even the market for these type of apps reflects that it doesn’t really get much attention.

But I am curious, where do you stand on using download managers? Have you forgotten about them? Do you still use them, and for what purpose? If so, which ones do you use and what do you think of the dying market for these type of apps? Let your voice be heard in the comment section below!


  • Skoopman

    Interesting, but you could’ve included Jdownloader, which supports most freehosters and HTTP/FTP downloading and is also free.

    • http://about.me/jorgerdz Jorge Rodriguez

      Not a fan, really. I used it for a while in the past but it doesn’t feel native, it was slow and I didn’t enjoy using it. Also, it seems kind of shady, in legal terms.

  • JLIT

    Second JDownloader… I bought SpeedDownloader and used it for a long time but they seem to have a bias for RapidShare and all other Premium Downloading Services are left to be entered manually or saved when adding new URLs to it. I use JDownloader despite being a bit more of a processor hog, its still far more stable and resumes downloads along with integrates with 95% of the online hosting services in ways its an easy choice for me at least

  • T.W.

    I bought SpeedDownload and i’m very happy with this app.

  • http://tuananh.us Tuan Anh Tran

    not a download manager but a accelerator instead. axel proves to be essential for me.

    install through homebrew.

    i tried all of those above but igetter seems to be the best.

  • Michael Solis

    I got Speed Download as part of a Bundle deal and to be honest, I have no idea how to use it or what its really for. Everytime I download a document or application or other type of file they always download in Speed Download. It has a bunch of functions but its a big mystery to me how they work and what they’re for. I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up uninstalling it because it has no real value to me other then to slow me down.

    Does anyone know of any tutorials/videos/manuals on how to effectively use Speed Download? Maybe then I would like it better.

    • Sam Jones

      Speed Download is worth using because it can open multiple connections per download, meaning you can take advantage of all the bandwidth available to you and significantly increase the actual time it takes to download a file. It’s like having a 4-lane highway instead of 1. Speed limit might be the same on both highways but the former can have more cars driving at the same time, hence increasing the number of cars that can pass in the same amount of time.

      Most people use Speed Download and JDownloader primarily to download a massive amount of pirated pornographic videos. Most of these video clips are distributed using split RAR archive files. Most of them are about 1.2~1.5GB total in size, and they are often split into 5~15 RAR files. Both Speed Download and JDownloader can download them in bulk, often at the download rate of 500KB ~ 700KB/sec. Speed Download can keep track of these download links and queue download links as you browse porn forums and collect links. JDownloader gets more vote around here, though, because it has better integration with all kinds of premium download services such as file sonic.com, it can automatically detect links you copy from porn forums, and it has a built-in RAR extraction that automates the porn video extraction with ease.

      Of course you can also use them to download all sorts of pirated software, but again, most people use them to download porn. So if you are into watching porn, you should consider using Speed Download (or JDownloader, depending on your preference).

      • SilverOne

        what he said, i have a fiber connection and notice one megabyte difference.

        and yes it’s easier to just copy the huge list of pornographic links and copy paste them into speed downloader, than actually clicking every single rapidshare link.

  • Mike

    I use folx free version.

  • Jan

    All you need is JDownloader.

  • Brenda Shey

    I don’t understand why Folx is not mentioned here. It gives rather strong functionality for free (auto-resuming, prioritizing, download speed adjustment, very convenient tagging system).

  • dzigg

    I use jdownloader at home server to download. But on my MBA, I use iGetter since it easily download from filesonic which I use extensively.. Both are free although iGetter have the splash screen when you start the program.

  • http://www.mrcorse.net Miguel Machado

    I been using Speeddownload in the last years. Is very useful when you have a rapidshare account and have a lot of links to download…

  • B.

    I’ve been using SpeedDownload for 3 or 4 years now. It has some flaws, is very Rapidshare-biased, i find it overloaded with features but so far i just couldnt find anything better. I tried Leech and i LOVED the interface and lightweight feeling, but it didnt support resuming downloads from quite a few servers i tried (SpeedDownload didnt have that problem). Also, safari integration in OS X 10.7 is borked.

  • http://www.boastboy.com Boastboy

    I’ve been using jdownloader http://jdownloader.org/ for ages, it’s power actually surprises me sometimes seeing as it’s free. It even downloads youtube videos.

  • Clasqm

    Two words: metered connection. Another two words: data cap. I connect with a 3G router and my ISP gives me 3Gb a month plus another 3 between midnight and 5 pm. Scheduling is the killer function.

    I use Progressive Dowloader.

  • Sigilist

    Oh goodness… not another one of these… and another nod to JDownloader. So very tired of the whole “pretty” nonsense as a key point to Mac programs. JDownloader does everything these do and more.
    1) It’s cross-platform (Java),
    2) it’s free,
    3) it works with file storage servers via free or premium accounts (over a hundred of them)
    4) its updated regularly for handling those special servers and connections plus any new ones recommended by users,
    5) It can monitor the clipboard for URLs of all types
    6) It has all sorts of priority management features, including some scheduling, and yet
    7) It works straight out of the “box” for anyone whose been dumbed down by pretty and you-don’t-need-to-know utilities.

    Oh… and you don’t have to have the AppStore to get it.

  • Francisco

    For me, it’s essential having a download manager and accelerator, since I can’t use all my bandwidth using only what browsers offer.

    Check out mdmapp.com, it’s in open beta and it features most of jdownloader can do but it is a nice native mac os x app.

  • Tasos

    I bought speed download and I loved it for some time but the I changed from hotfile to filesonic and lazy developers didn’t do anything to make speed download to work with filesonic and I had to change to jdownloader I got used to it but it’s nothing like speed download.

  • http://stucel.com Felix Widjaja

    FYI iGetter is not free. It’s shareware $25
    Info here: http://www.igetter.net/downloads.html

  • charles

    ++ for Jdownloader

    Works well for those of us downloading on megaupload

  • Sam Jones

    Another vote for JDownloader. Speed Download is a good program, but JDownloader has some very convenient features that make porn hunting a lot easier.

    For example, it has clipboard auto-detection. So when I find a bunch of filesonic/fileserve/etc. links, I can just copy the whole set of links and JDownloader would automatically queue them and check them for validity and availability. I usually collect about 100 links every day, JDownloader just downloads and extracts all of them automatically while I’m away, and all the hot videos are ready for viewing when I get back to my Mac. Unfortunately Speed Download can’t automate this process quite as well as JDownloader, but SD has far better user interface. JDownloader is your typical *NIX free software designed by script kiddies and hacker wannabes. It works but it’s just plain ugly. It should be at least as pretty as the porn it downloads so beautifully.

  • WPHead

    Love jDownloader! Use it all the time, can literally download anything… youtube videos, large set of images, file host files,etc.

  • Sang

    I got SpeedDownload from a bundle while ago. I only use it in certain situations.

    The main scenario I use SD for is if I have list of urls to download. For example, if I wanted to download all images from a webpage, instead of downloading individual images, I can scrape the source to get all image urls and paste the urls in to SD and it will download all of them.

  • Fab

    Firefox has a nice add on : “down them all” that can serve as a download manager. It’s free and works pretty well.

  • Schellman

    I agree with all the comments here. jDownload may be written in Java, but puts all others to shame featurewise. Moreover, it’s free as in beer, and continously developed. What more could I want?

  • http://www.jobaerulkaes.com Jobaerul Kaes

    you missed folx (the best free downloader for mac)

  • Kath Hudson

    I use Folx PRO and I am really happy with it. http://www.mac-downloader.com/

  • Ariel

    This is another (new) download manager: http://mdmapp.com/

    • http://tuananh.us Tuan Anh Tran

      i just tried it, seems good.

      very promising.

      thanks

    • Areus

      Kind of bummed I bought a license for Speed Download recently. This one is perfect.

  • Joresch

    JDownloader +++

  • Philipp

    MDM is very cool, I didn’t know this existed, I am a big fan of DownThemAll, but since i switched to Chrome I’ve been using jDownloader which is ugly, slow but effective.

  • http://www.mbtmenshoesoutlet.com/ mbtshoes

    that’s pretty cool.man.

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