Free Download Manager 5.1 ships with new interface

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 28, 2015

Free Download Manager 5.1 Beta is the latest version of the popular software program for the Windows operating system. The new version changes things around quite a bit as it ships with a new interface, no support for Windows systems prior to Windows 7, and a revamped software engine.

The new version will replace the previous version of the program, version 3.9.7 when it is released as a stable version in the near future

Download Managers are quite the useful tools even in times of Megabit and Gigabit connections. Probably the two biggest advantages they offer over downloading directly using a web browser or other program are that they use multiple connections to a server to increase the overall download speed, and that they support resume.

I used Free Download Manager last year to download a ROM file from a -- very slow -- Chinese server. The browser's download speed to the file was less than 40 Kb/s, that of the download manager almost 1600 Kb/s.

Free Download Manager 5.1

The new Free Download Manager 5.1 changes the interface of the program in significant ways. When you launch the new version for the first time you see less buttons, less tabs, and less information through and through in the interface.

free download manager 5.1

The interface itself has been modernized, but it comes at the cost of functionality. While you can still add downloads to the program easily, either directly by using one of the included browser add-ons, by pasting urls or by dragging them, some features are less practicable then before.

For instance, to tag a file you need to create the tag first, then right-click on the file to tag it. Tags are displayed at the top and not in a sidebar as they were before, and space is more limited there because of this.

Filters, which were displayed in the -- now removed -- sidebar in previous versions, are now displayed as a menu in the right upper corner of the interface. It takes two clicks now to switch between filters where it tool one before.

The developers are still working on the program though, and note that some features are still to be added before release. This includes the import of history from FDM3, making sure RAM use stays low in all situations, and making sure the UI stays responsive if lots of downloads (400+) are listed in it.

The program ships with new features, like preview thumbnails for downloads, options to select files that are part of torrents to download only those, and additional shortcut keys like Ctrl-v to paste download links in the interface.

Windows XP and Vista users won't be able to use the Free Download Manager 5.1 as it is not compatible with those operating systems. XP users need to stay on version 3.9.4, the latest supported version, while Vista users on version 3.9.7 instead.

Since updates are not enforced, it is not necessary to upgrade to version 5.1 of the download manager when it comes out. Users who prefer the older interface can continue to use it. It is unclear right now however if browser integration remains supported, considering that most browsers require add-ons to be signed to be installed.

Closing Words

The new interface will take some getting used to time for existing users, but it is still beta and things might change before release.

Now You: Do you use a download manager?

Free Download Manager 5.1 ships with new interface
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Free Download Manager 5.1 ships with new interface
Free Download Manager 5.1 is a new version of the popular download manager for Windows and Mac operating systems.

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  1. Barbarian said on December 13, 2017 at 12:18 am

    I’ve been an FDM 3.x user for ages and mostly love it. I decided to update to 5, but it’s horrid. Why does it have to pop up the UI each time I send it a download? The options box yes, but not the whole UI that has to be dismissed separately – crazy. I’ll be reverting to 3.9.7.

  2. Jack said on July 3, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Give us the option of the “classic” interface”!!!

    I wanted more controls,instead I got less.

    1. RangeRover said on September 3, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      That is exactly right. Make your changes if you must, but it should have a classic view

  3. Greg said on January 16, 2016 at 2:08 am

    RIP Free Download Manager, another casualty of the dumbing down of software trend.

  4. XenoSilvano said on January 12, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    I sandbox the Firefox browser that I use to prevent websites from attempting to attack the computer, I only download links through download managers through which I aim all the security software that I use to thoroughly analise all the data streaming through.

  5. o_O said on January 3, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Interface is horrifying. Another project ruined by UI people :(((

  6. jmjsquared said on December 29, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Website is gone, no updates since ~2006 (Yup, 2006!) but full-featured, mere 2MB in size and never fails me: Gigaget

  7. eee said on December 29, 2015 at 1:03 am

    Minor correction, only XP users without SP3 need to stay on version 3.9.4, those with SP3 can use any newer 3.x version.

    I checked it out when they first announced the new 5.x series and a few times after… and every time I felt like puking.
    Another dumbed down point-and-drool interface for The Rest Of Them, taking away user control.
    I’ll stay with 3.x indefinitely or until I find something else at least as good/satisfying.

  8. Advertiser said on December 28, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    JDownloader or FreeDownloadManager (Lite) both with Flashgot and I’m happy. Still have to use (and get use) to this new interface.

  9. Mushaf said on December 28, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Another cartoonish interface. I am really not so fond of these. But since I don’t use FDM it’s not an issue for me.

  10. Pants said on December 28, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    I don’t use a download manager, but I do have FDM as a portable all configured amongst my tools.

    “The interface itself has been modernized, but it comes at the cost of functionality”
    ^^ This. I gotta say, this is becoming an issue. I understand the possibilities behind a simplified/unified look that doubles for touch (and smaller screens, hence bigger spaces/padding etc etc), but so many changes in UI today means less features, less information (even of only at first glance), and double or triple the number the clicks to get shit done. Look, I’m not a software design UIX expert, but I am an end user, over the years, of literally tens of thousands of programs, and I know what’s great and what’s a (goddamn dumbed-down f***g) mess. (Calm down Pants – Ed.)

  11. António said on December 28, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    I use DownThemAll in Firefox.

  12. wybo said on December 28, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I only use Megadownloader. Apart from that I only download torrents with Vuze and on top of that I use filehosts like uploadable etc.
    I doubt that when one use FDM filehosts speeds will increase…right?.

  13. Mountainking said on December 28, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Ill stick eith ver 3xx. This looks like a dumbed down version for idiots aka the masses. It is the best alternative to paid IDM….

  14. DV said on December 28, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Of course, I do. And FDM has been (and is still) my go-to download manager since XP. I’ve tried many others, and often came back to it.

    I must admit that I haven’t taken the time to configure it to work with my current browser (Slim Browser) and I’m using EagleGet instead. But FDM is still installed and perfectly working with all other installed browsers.

    Concerning the interface, well… I was expecting an update but not such a huge overhaul. I can see they try to be “in the move”, flirting with flat colors/design and so. Will try to get used to it, provided much the core features and the simplicity are kept.

    Good job, devs! And thanks, Martin.

    1. semmal said on December 23, 2020 at 6:14 am

      I use the last version of FDM that had the old look (updated on 2017 by a third-party for Firefox compatibility version) and I love it. It’s faster, more advanced, and not as babylike.

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