In order to reduce disk space usage, I want to automate a temporary clean in my Downloads folder. I figured two ways to do so:

1) Changing the configurations of firefox, etc. to save files to /tmp/ (this would require, for safety, changing the variable TMPTIME in /etc/default/rcS to 7 or more days);

2) Turning the ~/Downloads folder into a temporary directory that behaves similarly to /tmp/, deleting old files. The problem is that in /tmp files are indiscriminately deleted in the end of the session; in ~/Downloads folder it would be better to delete files by their creation date.

I'm not very sympathetic to the first option, since it requires a lot of config. I'd like some help to implement the second one. What's the best way to do it?

1 Answer 1


Instead of changing how the directory works, you could have a little clean-up script. It's easier to implement and probably less dangerous in the long run.

The following will delete anything over 7 days old in your ~/Download/ directory:

find ~/Download/ -mtime +7 -delete

You might want to test that by just removing the -delete segment and checking the files it returns. But once you're happy with it, you can schedule it to run once a day by running crontab -e and adding this on a new line:

@daily find ~/Download/ -mtime +7 -delete

ControlX then Y to save and exit and you're done.

  • 6
    The tmpwatch or tmpreaper package are better approaches to cleaning up a directory, having been designed for exactly this purpose.
    – MikeyB
    Dec 14, 2011 at 18:41
  • +1 @MikeyB, but I would also put this in a script which runs at every boot, since a cronjob won't run if the machine is off when the job is due.
    – scottl
    Jan 4, 2012 at 7:41
  • 1
    @scott why not just duplicate the line with @reboot instead of @daily to have the command run at boot as well May 19, 2019 at 8:43

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