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My secrets of Internet downloading, Part 1
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. I'll 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. Don't confuse downloading with copying. Moving files back and forth on your PC (to save something on a floppy disk, for example) isn't downloading or uploading; it's 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 don't put yourself in control, you'll mess things up.

"Save As" is the computer's 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 don't know much about downloading, the one that comes up most often goes like this: "I downloaded a file and now I can't 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, they're underlines, but they can show up in color or highlighted in some other way.) That's OK when you're opening another Web page, but it's 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 you'll 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, you'll see a representation of your computer's 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. You'll 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 you'll see all the main folders in your C: drive in the main window.

If you haven't already created a folder to store downloads, now's the time. At the top of the window, you'll 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. Don't 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 you've 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, you're ready for the next steps. I'll explain them next week.


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