Whenever I try to download a big file via HTTP, say more than a gigabyte in size, I always look for a download manager to make the job easier and painless. The thing with large files is that if you download them with your browser’s in-built downloader, and if something goes wrong, you often are compelled to restart the download from the beginning. This can become really painful with an unstable internet connection. I recently faced this problem firsthand while trying to download Xcode from Apple’s website.
Anyway, a download manager is not a new concept to us. We have all used them on Windows or Linux, but sadly, I’ve never encountered a free download manager for Mac OS X that works without any hassles (I tried Speed Download but it used to crash a lot).
Progressive Downloader is a free download manager for Mac OS X that promises to change that. Its lightweight, and does exactly what a download manager is expected to do: download all your files for you without any fluff or hassles.
Like most download managers, Progressive Downloader supports downloads from HTTP, FTP and MMS protocols, and basic features such as multi-threaded downloading, or scheduling of downloads. These are features that are standard for any download manager on Windows or Linux.
However, Progressive Downloader packs a few features that sets it apart from the rest.
- Mirror Search – An in-built search algorithm looks for online mirrors of files. If mirrors are found, one or more of them are used to accelerate your download, by downloading from separate servers in separate threads (which are thereby independent of each other). While this may work for only a handful of files, the speed improvement is too great to ignore.
- Filehosting Plugins – Progressive Downloader supports a plug-in architecture and comes with plug-ins for a few popular file-sharing websites (the plugins are downloaded on first run). A list of plugin can be seen below in the screenshot.
- Keychain Support – For sites which do not allow downloads without saving a session key or without necessitating user login, you can download by sharing credentials using the Mac OS X Keychain.
All of these nifty features make Progressive Downloader a must-have tool. Even people who swear by Speed Download should give it a try; after all its free!
Filed in: mac tips and tricks