In the good old days of dial-up and ISDN connectivity most web browsers came with an extensive download manager component. With these you could carefully manage the number of simultaneous downloads and carefully queue up your downloads so that could proceed without your intervention over the next few hours without you having to constantly watch the progress.
These days, all browser developers expect you to have super fast xDSL connections and therefore the number of simultaneous connections and the ability to queue downloads is effectively absent. Firefox, Safari and OmniWeb, probably the three main browsers us Mac users use today, all assume that there is no limit to your network bandwidth and that, on the whole, queuing transfers is for mugs.
For someone like me this can be a nightmare. As a writer I sometimes have to download 20 or 30 large files in succession. Or, perhaps only 4 or 5, but all of them gigabytes in size. This is no fun. Downloading such large files, or such a large quantity, through a download management system that assumes unlimited bandwidth is simply a joke, especially if in reality you have a 512Kbps ADSL link like I do.
Multiple simultaneous downloads in this situation are a nightmare. They either all run at such a slow rate that they timeout, or the simultaneous nature means that they take hours to download everything you actually need, often when one file would be useful at least to get started with.
That’s why I find Download Wizard so great. It plugs the gap between those older browsers which would, sensibly, provide you with some decent management features for your downloading needs and the new browsers which simply don’t.
You can see here from the first screenshot that you can line and queue items, as well as pause them when you want to delay they download in favour of something else. To add a new item to the list of items to download you can either click ‘New’ and enter or paste in the URL or simply click Paste which does both for you. You’re then prompted with a confirmation dialog, including size if this was determined. Clicking the Download button then adds it to the list.
It’s as simple as that and you can cut and paste as many items as you like and let Download Wizard work out the rest. If the connection is dropped, slows or needs to be restarted Download Wizard will handle all of this for you; even restarting mid-way through a download if the server supports it. The info panel, on the right, gives you information about the file you are downloading and even the log information about the download progress and server responses; useful when debugging a failure. Another panel is available on the left hand side, Categories, provides you with quick access to specific sets of downloads; for example, all the complete ones, or those waiting. You can also add to these by using a custom expression system. For example, you may want to set up a category that lists all the MP3 files in the system (in any state).
For such a seemingly simple application, Download Wizard is also highly configurable. You can set Download Wizard to automatically monitor your clipboard for addresses. That way, to add something to your download queue just add the address to your clipboard and Download Wizard will do the rest.
You can also set the usual range of settings, such as Anaonymous FTP email address, download folders and what happens to entries and the application when the download has finished. You can see here on the right the configuration for download parameters such as simultaneous numbers, retry values and other information.
Best of all though is a browser plug-in which works with the majority of browsers and will intercept a download for a file and redirect that request straight through to Download Wizard instead. That makes working with Download Wizard, your browser and multiple downloads so much easier it’s really hard to describe. Honestly, I take the whole thing now completely for granted. I can’t even remember the last time I had to suffer the pain of using the download manager in the other applications.
All in all, Download Wizard is a top notch product and I think it should be a standard part of the Mac OS X operating system. It’s that good. And for $17, really, you can’t go wrong. If you want to try it beforehand you get 14 days of the full version to try out before you buy. I urge you to try it.