How to Download Files
By Dan Pacheco
As you trek across the virtual wild, you'll probably find souvenirs you want to keep. Many files are packaged, or compressed, so that they can be transferred quickly. To open them, you need a decompression program. If you don't install any other tool from our Web Outfitter, make sure you nab this one.
On the PC, most files are compressed using the "PKZip" or simply "Zip" format. Macintosh files are compressed using Stuffit Expander, which turns them into "Sit" files. To get a downloading tool, click on your computer type in the toolbox.
How Do I Recognize a Downloadable File?
On WashingtonPost.com, any link to a downloadable file will include four important pieces of information. The word "download" means this file is meant to be transferred directly to your computer rather than opened with a browser or another tool. After that there will be three items in parentheses. "Sit" or "Zip" tells you how the file is compressed. "PC" or "Mac" shows which platform the file is intended for. Finally, the number next to "K" tells you how large the file is in kilobytes. Here's an example:
Download a test file (Zip, PC, 1K)
How Do I Download a File?
If a file is not compressed, you can download it directly to your hard drive and execute or read it. To do that, click on any link that reads "download." A progress bar will show you how much of the file has arrived over time. When the bar disappears, the file has been safely copied to your computer.
If a file is compressed and you have a downloading tool installed, the tool will automatically decompress the file into its parts. On a PC, it may even help you install a program.
If you are using Netscape Navigator, you will be prompted for a location to download the file to. We suggest creating a folder at the top level of your "C:" drive called "download" and sending all uncompresed files there. Once a file has been completely transferred, you can easily find it there, then open or run it by double-clicking it. This also makes it easy to delete files you no longer need, saving space on your hard drive. Here's how to create the folder:
In Windows 95, go to "My Computer" and "C:\" and choose File-New-Folder.Type in the name "download" and hit the Enter key.
In Windows 3.1, open your File Manager, which is usually in the "Main" program group. choose Directory-Create Directory and enter the name "download."
On a Macintosh, double-click on your hard drive and choose File-New Folder from the menu bar. Enter the name "download" and press the return key.
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