A few readers have asked about the downloads list in macOS Safari—in particular, how to find it when the button is missing and where to find entries for older downloads.
While it seems like a simple matter of clicking a button and scrolling, Apple added some sophistication that has tripped people up. In earlier versions of Safari, the Downloads button was always present and all previous downloads appeared in a list. You could click a button to clear the list or use other history-wiping tools to erase it.
In the most recent Safari releases for OS X and macOS Sierra, the Downloads only appears when there are items in a list, and you can choose to age out the entries.
In Safari > Preferences, the General tab offers Remove Download List Items as a pop-up menu with choices of After One Day, When Safari Quits, Upon Successful Download, and Manually. While I don’t recall ever changing this option, it’s set to After One Day on my main computer; Apple may have chosen that for us as an option when the item was added as a preference.
Where to find Safari’s downloads list published on