The Technofile Web site has moved.

Technofile is now located at
Please update your links, bookmarks and Favorites.  

Simple rules for handling downloads
technofile  by al fasoldt
Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology 
Simple gray rule

Simple rules for handling downloads 

Bit Player for Oct. 19, 1997

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1997, The Syracuse Newspapers

My mailbox was bulging after I mentioned Tweak UI last week. Nearly all the mail came from readers who got lost in the download jungle.

Downloading and installing software does not need to be such a pain. If you follow three simple steps for downloading in Windows 95, most of the agony can be avoided. Here they are:

    1. Choose where the file goes when you download it.
    2. Put the downloaded file in a separate folder before you do anything with it.
    3. Right clickóRIGHT CLICKóon any files or links to see what your options are.

Let's look at these one by one.

When you have a Web page open in your Internet Explorer or Netscape browser and you see an underlined link, don't click on it with the left mouse button. Please don't. All the problems downloaders have start with this mistake.

Right click instead. Then choose the option that lets you choose where the file goes and what name it has. (The choices are worded differently in various browsers.)

Usually, this choice is known as "Save as." It lets you click your way through what Windows calls a "file browser" to choose the place where the downloaded file will be stored. You'll probably find that once you've chosen a location (a folder, in other words), your browser will default to that location the next time you download a file.

And what should that location be? If you're experienced at file-and-folder management, you can ignore my next suggestion. Otherwise, create a folder called "Download" in the main area (the root) of your C: drive. To do this, double-click My Computer, double-click the C: icon, then right click inside the window that opens and choose "New." Then choose "Folder." The name will flash. Type "Download" and press the Enter key to change the name from "New Folder" to "Download." (If you mess this upóas I often do, trying to do things too fastójust click once on "New Folder" and press F2, then type "Download" and press Enter.)

After you have finished downloading files in one session at your PC, you can just leave the new files where you've placed them. They won't do anything and won't cause any harm. (Have your anti-virus program check them out at this time, if you'd like.) When you are ready to do something will them, work on them one at a time and follow the next piece of advice very closely.

Open the Download folder. Look at the files. Create a separate folder for the file you want to open. If the file is called "Powertoy," create a "Powertoy" folder, in other words. Does this next step exactly as I describe it: Right click on the file and drag it to the new folder using the right mouse button. (Yes, the RIGHT button. Did I mention that you should use the right button?) Let go of the file and choose "Move."

Then open that folder and right click on the file you just moved there. Yes, RIGHT click. (Did I mention that you shouldóOK, I'll stop.) Windows will display your options when you right click. Choose "Open" if you see that option. If you don't see an "Open" option, you're probably dealing with a ZIP file and you don't have a ZIP manager installed. If that's the case, check out the complete three-part series on downloading on my Web site, at

In the case of the Power Toys, choosing "Open" will separate the parts of the downloaded file into a lot of smaller files in that new folder. Look for a file called "Install" and right click on it. (Did Iósorry, I lost myself for a moment there.) Then choose "Install" from the options.

In the case of many other downloaded files (except ZIPs, as I mentioned earlier), choosing "Open" will actually start the installation.

When you're through, back out of the new folder you created and drag it to the Recycle Bin. The stuff that's left inside it is not needed. (Power users and those with Type A personalities may want to save the original downloaded file in case something goes wrong. If you want to do that, right-drag it to a storage folder and leave it there for a few months.)

 Image courtesy of Adobe Systems Inc.technofile: [Articles] [Home page] [Comments:]