In Firefox (version 2.x and below) and Mozilla Suite/SeaMonkey, downloads.rdf is the (only) place that stores information (such as file name, URL, and date of download) about files downloaded. Its contents can be viewed and managed through the Download Manager and its associated settings. In Thunderbird, it is the (only) place that maintains a history of attachments opened or saved by double-clicking on files listed in the Attachments pane or by using the menu sequence "File -> Attachments -> [attachment name] -> Open". Thunderbird has no user interface for viewing or managing the contents.
Note: Starting in Firefox 3.0, download history is stored in downloads.sqlite instead of downloads.rdf.
It's not advisable to edit this file manually because of its complexity and the fact that, in Firefox and Mozilla Suite, the Download Manager provides an interface to edit it.
This file can be moved to a different profile without any extra effort.
Deleting downloads.rdf will clear your download history. A new file will be created on start up or when the application first needs to write to the file.
Related bug reports
- Bug 159107 - page saving/downloads takes too much time (is slow) ('marooned' entries in downloads.rdf)
- Bug 161783 - Need a more scaleable implementation for download data storage
- Bug 240525 - Download manager hangs for up to 30 seconds on any UI interaction
- Bug 280442 - A bad downloads.rdf file causes firefox to crash on download - FF11a1 @ nsDownloadsDataSource::GetURI
- Bug 303746 - crash or attempted crash anytime the download manager is either called up or something is set to download while the download manager is up on the screen
- Bug 306190 - Firefox.exe hangs with 99% CPU usage when clearing Download Manager
- Bug 328113 - crash @ nsIconChannel::GetName @ nsMimeType::GetDescription @ nsDownloadsDataSource::GetURI
- Bug 380250 – Convert Download Manager's RDF backend to mozStorage