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Organizing downloads, Part 1

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
 

Simple gray rule


Organizing the files you download off the Internet, Part 1
 

Technofile for May 25, 1997

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1997, The Syracuse Newspapers

It seems there are only two kinds of computer users these days—those who are on the Internet and those who want to be.

Those who are getting onto the Net are likely to be new both to the Internet and to computers. And that means they've had almost no experience with one of the basic activities of long-time Internet users—downloading and organizing software.

Those of us who started out at the dawn of the age of personal computers had a lot of practice. We know the ritual. We know what ZIPs are, maybe even what ARC means. We know how to extract files and how to keep the flotsam and jetsam of shareware from taking over our hard drives.

But if you're mystified when a dozen odd icons suddenly appear on your desktop after an Internet outing, or if you just want some guidance on what to do with all the games you've pulled off the World Wide Web, stick with me. I'll explain how to organize and control the files you download (transfer) from the Internet.

I have four basic rules you should follow no matter what. I'll try to leave out the technical reasons for doing these things. (If you were a techie, you probably wouldn't be reading this anyway.) I'm aiming my advice to users of Windows 95, but you'll still find some of it helpful if you use the old version of Windows or a Macintosh.

  • Create a folder for downloaded files. It doesn't matter much where you put this folder. Just make it and be sure to use it. Put all your downloaded files in it.

Some people make a download folder on their Windows 95 desktop. That's OK. But a better location is the main C: drive, so that your folder is C:\Download. The Desktop folder is inside the Windows folder, so anything you put there tends to make the Windows folder ever larger, and that's not a good thing.) If your download folder is not on the desktop, create a shortcut to the folder and put the shortcut on the desktop.

  • Get into the habit of using the right mouse button with your Web browser. (Both of the main browsers, Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator, make good use of the right button.) If you click on a link to a downloadable file using the right button, you can easily choose what happens to the file.

Always choose Save as from the menu that pops open when you press the right mouse button on a download link. Don't choose Open. You don't want your computer to open the file; you want to store the file on your hard drive. (You'll open it later.)

  • When you chose Save as, you'll see a small window called a file selector. Navigate to the folder you've created for all your downloads and hit the Enter key. That tells the computer to put the file there.

(Some browsers word the right-click option differently, so you might not see Save as. If you don't, use the choice that seems closest.)

  • After you've disconnected from the Internet and closed your browser, open your download folder and create a separate folder for each downloaded file. Then move each downloaded file to its corresponding folder. This is very important. If you don't do this, you'll be inundated with puzzling (and probably useless) files in your main download folder as soon as you come across an unruly download.

(To make sure you're moving the files, use the right mouse button to drag each file and choose Move when you get a prompt.)

When you have all those downloaded files in their own folders, it's time for the next step. It's worth a full explanation, which we'll cover next week.


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