technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
Simple gray rule

My secrets of Internet downloading, Part 1

Bit Player for Dec. 13, 1998

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1998, The Syracuse Newspapers

The Internet has made downloaders of us all.

Grabbing files off the Web can be simple or it can be hard. For Windows users, the secret of making it simple is the right mouse button. Iíll tell you how to do it this week and next.

First, a quick explanation. "Downloading" means having a file sent "down" from another computer to your computer. The opposite action, "uploading," is sending a file "up" to another computer. Donít confuse downloading with copying. Moving files back and forth on your PC (to save something on a floppy disk, for example) isnít downloading or uploading; itís just copying. Downloading and uploading happens when the other computer is remotely located, as it would be on the Internet.

Remember these two words: SAVE AS. They let you control what happens when you download something. If you donít put yourself in control, youíll mess things up.

"Save As" is the computerís way of letting you choose two things: What the file is called and where it goes. Of all the questions I get from people who donít know much about downloading, the one that comes up most often goes like this: "I downloaded a file and now I canít find it. Where did it go?" This problem does not occur when you take control with "Save As."

Usually, you click the left mouse button to do something with hyperlinks on a Web page. (Most often, theyíre underlines, but they can show up in color or highlighted in some other way.) Thatís OK when youíre opening another Web page, but itís the wrong way to click on something you want to download. The safe way is to click the right mouse button, because it shows you a menu that includes "Save As."

So make sure you click the right mouse button and then click "Save As." (Your browser might word "Save As" a little differently, such as "Save Target As," but youíll spot the right choice without a problem.) The next step is very important, so read the next part carefully.

The first thing you see after clicking "Save As" is a small window. The top of the window will have "Save As" written on it. Just below that you will see a very small horizontal locator window with the words "Save in:" in front of it. This tiny strip is actually a dropdown menu.

If you click on the downward-facing pointer at the right of this menu, youíll see a representation of your computerís storage area. While that dropdown menu is open, you can click on any icon in the dropdown list to switch to that area of storage. Youíll see your floppy disk, your CD-ROM and your hard drive in the list. Click on the icon for your C: drive (not your floppy drive) and youíll see all the main folders in your C: drive in the main window.

If you havenít already created a folder to store downloads, nowís the time. At the top of the window, youíll see an icon that looks like a folder with droplets hitting it on the right corner. Click it and it will create a folder with the name "New Folder" highlighted. Donít accept that name. While the name "New Folder" is highlighted, type a common-sense name. "Download" is fine. (Keep the name to a single short word.) Press the Enter key to get Windows to use the name you typed in.

(If youíve messed up and given the folder the wrong name, click the folder once, press F2 and type the name again. You can delete the bad folder if you want to, then try again. To delete a folder you just created, highlight it by clicking once and press the Delete key.)

Now that you have a download folder, youíre ready for the next steps. Iíll explain them next week.

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