Mountain Area Information Network

Downloading Procedures and Tips

Definition: downloading is moving a file from somewhere on the internet to your computer. Most of these files are in compressed format to make the download time shorter. Here is an online dictionary definition. You should be aware of the reputability of where you download files from. Have up to date anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed and running at all times.

Here are the general steps for downloading software:

  1. Get the file from the internet onto your computer
  2. Open or uncompress the file.
  3. Install or open the file.

If you do a lot of downloading, you might want to set up a specific place on your computer for all the downloads you get to keep track of them. Make a Downloads folder in an easy to remember location (ie., your Desktop).

General Procedure - Windows (For Macintosh click here.)

Some web sites will bring up a page with a description of the file being downloaded and the download may start automatically. Or, you may have to click the download link and a small window will open and ask you, "What would you like to do with this file?" or something similar.

Choose the "Run" option if possible, but this will not leave a permanent copy of the file on your computer. It will install your download without much further effort.

If you want to have a copy on your computer, write down the file name in case you have to search for it or can't remember what it is after a long download. Then simply click on the "Save it to disk" or "Save" choice, and then click OK. Some older versions of Internet Explorer may require that you right-click on "Download Now," and select "Save Target As" to be able to begin the process described above.

Although some files end in .exe and automatically install or expand into many files, many of the files you will download end in .zip. This particular exercise teaches you how to deal with the .zip file format. Later, we'll explain how to handle .exe files.

Since downloads can include more than one file, it is a lot of trouble to download many files for one program installation. A .zip file, also referred to as an archive, is an single file that has many files stored within it. It is also compressed in size, which has the further benefit of saving hard drive space and shortening the download time.

For Win 95, 98, ME and 2000: Before you can install zipped programs, it will be necessary to unzip (open up, uncompress) the .zip file in order to use the files stored within it.

For Windows XP: It usually has a built in unzipper and all you have to do is double click on the zip file and XP will assist you.

WinZip is popular for unzipping files, and other utilities are available. If you don't have the WinZip utility, you can download it now. It is available at It is a demo version which you can use for a certain number of days.

Download and Install WinZip . Place Winzip in your computer's C:\download folder, or the Downloads folder on your desktop. The WinZip file is in the form of an .exe that can be run and installed without any additional steps. Double-click on the file to install WinZip, then follow the easy step-by-step installation instructions. We suggest you take all of the suggested default settings and scan all your drives for favorite folders. WinZip can then easily access your C:\download directory for the next step.

STOP when you reach the "WinZip Wizard - Welcome" window, and proceed with the next instruction.

If you've downloaded a file that ends in ARJ, ARC, GZ, ZIP, OR Z, you will need to decompress it by doing the following:

  1. Double-click the file you want to decompress. WinZip will automatically start up and show you all the compressed files contained in the zipped file.
  2. Click the Extract button.
  3. Select a destination folder or directory for the files (to create a new directory, just type in a name for the new folder and press Enter) and click the Extract button.

If the file you've downloaded has the extension EXE, it is very likely a self-extracting file that will decompress when you double-click it. Before you do this, though, make sure you have placed it in your Downloads folder so that you won't lose track of the files. After you double-click the file, follow the directions (if any) and the process should be complete.

Downloaded Files Won't Open
Some files you have downloaded, such as cards, banners, calendars, letterheads, user guides, art (graphics or pictures) or sound and movie files may require a specific program to open them. Typically, the download instructions will specify the program that is required to run or open the file, and will offer link to a free download of the required program.

Download Managers
Download managers aid in downloading large files in several ways. One of the most important is that if you get cut off when downloading a file, the manager will allow you to start where you left off, rather than start at the beginning. Here is a download manager that is sponsored by showing ads: Netants, a download manager for Windows

Macintosh OS 8.6 - 9.X

If you've downloaded a file that ends in .SEA, it's a self-extracting file that you can decompress simply by double-clicking it. For files that end in .CPT, .HQX, or .SIT, you'll need a decompression program like StuffIt Expander. Some browsers (including most versions of Netscape Navigator) already contain StuffIt as a add-on application and will launch StuffIt automatically when you click a compressed file. If you don't have StuffIt Expander, you can download. After you install it, you can open compressed files simply by dragging them onto the StuffIt icon.

If you are a Mac user and would like to download and install the StuffIt Expander utility, you may do so here.

Mac OS X: after doubleclicking on a download link for a file, most will download and decompress automatically. It will usually show an icon for a removeable hard drive. All you have to do is copy the files from it to where you want them. Somtimes, it will show a file with the suffix .dmg. Double click on the file and it should make an icon for a removeable hard drive. If the files don't decompress automatically, you may need Stuffit Expander for OS X here.

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