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I've noticed that many browsers default to starting a download as soon as a user clicks on a download link and before the user selects a destination. This has the advantage of speeding up the download effectively: the time the user browses for a destination can be used to begin the download.

The disadvantage is that if the download contains sensitive information and the intended destination is inside an encrypted device, the unencrypted data begins to be written to what is probably an insecure location.

Basically, I'm looking for a way to get the old behavior back: don't download a single byte until the final destination has been selected.

Edit: to clarify, I have tried the "Ask where to save each file before downloading" setting (in fact, I always use that setting). It does not achieve the goal. Observe your default download location when beginning a download, and you will see this:

chrome tmp file before selecting download location

This grew until it was 438MB (the latest Raspberry Pi OS Lite image). You can also observe the Chrome progress bar, etc. The file was written out completely as a .tmp file before I hit "Save" in the dialog box.

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  • Generally one can right click on a link to select where the download goes on any browser. If not, core settings for downloads should work. – Giacomo1968 Mar 20 at 16:27
  • Maybe Tor-Browser? You could also move the whole profile to the secure disk; or move the folder to an encrypted folder on the insecure drive? – pbhj Mar 20 at 21:18
  • This seems like an XY problem. What makes you think waiting will prevent it from writing to a temporary location first? – Barmar Mar 26 at 17:23
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In Chrome, navigate to the Settings section. There's a Downloads setting

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In Firefox, navigate to about:preferences. There's an option under Files and Applications

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In Edge, you're looking for edge://settings/downloads

enter image description here

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  • For Chrome the URL is chrome://settings/downloads. – harrymc Mar 20 at 17:59
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    This answer is wrong, but you did a very helpful job showing where these settings are. Specifying where to save files does not stop the browser from downloading the file first and then moving it to the destination. I already have this setting enabled. I will clarify that point in the question with evidence. – Gordon Fogus Mar 20 at 19:25

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