How to Set Wget Target Directory Tips, Tricks and Tutorials 12 JUN 2014

If I ever need to pull something down from a website while working on an Ubuntu Server instance, then without a doubt, wget is my go to guy. From the man pages:

GNU Wget is a free utility for non-interactive download of files from the Web. It supports HTTP, HTTPS, and FTP protocols, as well as retrieval through HTTP proxies.

Wget is non-interactive, meaning that it can work in the background, while the user is not logged on. This allows you to start a retrieval and disconnect from the system, letting Wget finish the work. By contrast, most of the Web browsers require constant user’s presence, which can be a great hindrance when transferring a lot of data.

Wget can follow links in HTML, XHTML, and CSS pages, to create local versions of remote web sites, fully recreating the directory structure of the original site (recursive downloading). Wget can be instructed to convert the links in downloaded files to point at the local files, for offline viewing.

Wget has been designed for robustness over slow or unstable network connections; if a download fails due to a network problem, it will keep retrying until the whole file has been retrieved. If the server supports regetting, it will instruct the server to continue the download from where it left off.

So all in all, a VERY useful tool. The question being solved today is how to go about setting or specifying the target directory wget should be saving the downloaded files to. The short answer is that in the strictest sense you can’t – but you can specify a string prefix to add to all downloaded files, thereby allowing you to essentially set the wget target directory!

Again from the man pages:

-P prefix
Set directory prefix to prefix.  The directory prefix is the directory where all other files and sub-directories will be saved to, i.e. the top of the retrieval tree.  The default is . (the current directory).

In practice, if we want to download a file to /home/craiglotter then we would add -P /home/craiglotter/ to our command. In practice:

wget -P /home/craiglotter/

The above would download the image.jpg file to /home/craiglotter/image.jpg.

Useful to know.

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About Craig Lotter

Software developer, husband and dad to two little girls. Writer behind An Exploring South African. I don’t have time for myself any more.