Download several files: part 1


How to use wget; download many files with one command.

A typical way to download a file is to “right-click” on it and “save as” to a folder on your computer.  Downloading a few files this way is not tedious.  But if an audio book has 25 to 30 files you can bet I don’t want to do those manual moves over and over again.

Using a terminal, there’s a faster way to download files.  I’ll introduce now one of my often-used commands: wget.  This command has many useful options.  For example, you can download files, set up custom directory structures for your download(s), or see if a file exists without actually downloading it.

Using the command (in simple terms): Open a terminal and type wget [options] [urls] at the prompt (usually a dollar sign).  You can use one or several URLs.  Options are (well…) optional.

Here’s a practical example where you can download a gif image from the O’Reilly site linked below.  When you open a Linux terminal, you are usually in your user’s “home” directory.  This is fine for the purpose of this example.  Issue the command


Here’s what will happen: the file 0596009305_bkt.gif gets downloaded and saved to your home folder.  Cool right? But it was a bit of work (typing) just to download one file.  How does this save me time?

Yes, the above example is overly-simplified.  You can, if you wish, download any “.gif” or “.jpg” files from a given web address in the example below.  It’s a time-saving single command, borrowed from the commandlinefu website mentioned in the “cool and advanced uses of wget” link below.

wget -r -l1 --no-parent -nH -nd -A".gif,.jpg"

*Change the “” to a valid web address.  The options above (explained) are:

  • -r for “recursive”
  • -l1 only get files in the “images” directory (don’t dive into subdirectories)
  • –no-parent and -nH and -nd : ignore directory structure (no directories—just get the files)
  • “-A” is the “accept list” for files of type [.gif and .jpg].  It’s case-sensitive, so it would not download files ending in “.JPG”, so if you needed those too, specify with -A”.gif,.jpg,.JPG”

You can find more wget info and options here.  For really cool and advanced uses of wget, see this page.

I’ll post another awesome usage of wget in another post.  Thanks for reading.

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