When I use the Firefox web browser, I always have DownThemAll installed. DownThemAll is a download manager that makes it simple to download multiple files at once, or queue your downloads so you don’t have twenty things trying to download at once. It’s an incredibly useful extension, so when I started trying out Google Chrome, I was very disappointed to see that DownThemAll was a Firefox-only extension, and that there are no plans for a Chrome version.
What was even more disappointing was that there are no Chrome-specific download manager extensions, leaving the default Chrome options, which in my mind are pretty meager. You have no control over how many items download concurrently, and there is no queue to speak of. When you start a download… it starts.
So I went looking for something that I could use in conjunction with Chrome, and was happy to stumble on a download manager for Linux called FatRat. FatRat doesn’t provide perfect integration with Google Chrome, and it doesn’t have every feature I’d like, but it definitely suits my needs.
First, FatRat is an excellent download manager. It allows you to set how many files can be downloaded at any time, which is truly my one required feature in a download manager. If I’m on a webpage that has 20 or 30 links I want to download, I don’t want to have them all downloading at once. That’s just inefficient, and it’s not “nice” to hammer a website like that. With a limit on active transfers, you can set all of those files to download one after the other, so that only one or two downloads at a time. In addition, if you’re trying to do something else with your network connection, you can limit how fast FatRat downloads from the server.
Since Google Chrome doesn’t “support” download managers out of the box, another feature I love is FatRat’s drop box. With this feature turned on, a picture of a mouse trap loaded with cheese appears. This is the drop box. Now, from any web browser (not just Chrome), drag a link onto this area and FatRat starts downloading it. It’s a fantastic feature, and saves me a ton of time that I’d otherwise use copying and pasting links. So while FatRat doesn’t have a clipboard monitoring feature (which would allow me to simply copy a URL into the clipboard and FatRat would “see” it and ask me if I wanted to download it), this is a great second option.
While you’re downloading, FatRat offers a ton of features to keep you up-to-date about the status of your download. You can get a log of every event that happened (such as download requests and responses), as well as view a chart of the download speed history for a particular file.
FatRat, as I mentioned, is more than “just” a download manager. It’s also a bittorrent client, so a full range of bittorrent features exist too, such as searching bittorrent sites, creating torrent files and more. There are details for bittorrent downloads as well.
But there’s more.
If you want to grab a video off the Web (currently YouTube and Stream.cz are the only two supported sites), FatRat has that option available. I tried it with a couple of YouTube videos, but could never get this to work. Whether this is an issue related to a recent YouTube update or something else, I don’t know. It would be nice if it worked, of course, but it’s not a deal-breaker for me.
If you use the file sharing website Rapidshare, then FatRat has a few specific tools for you. You can attempt to use free downloads (which are restricted by number and speed), or if you have an account, your credentials can be entered into FatRat so you get full speed and no wait. You can also upload, either to Rapidshare (using your credentials), or to a website or FTP site you have access to.
If you’re away from your computer, FatRat also has a few preferences that may be of interest. You can use Jabber (the free and open-source chat protocol used by Google Talk and others) to control FatRat. You can also monitor the status of your downloads via the web with its web interface.
All in all, I’m really happy with FatRat. There are a few things I’m not completely enamored with (the lack of clipboard monitoring being the main one), and I don’t particular care of the icon theme either, but those are definitely small things. What FatRat give me, as a Google Chrome user, is a very functional download manager, and honestly, that lets me be able to continue to use Google Chrome, so thanks, FatRat!