How to Download a Program from a Website - dummies

By Dan Gookin

It’s a safe bet that nearly half the software on your computer was downloaded from a website. Some may be Windows updates or driver updates, some may be programs you are trying out or have purchased online, and some may be free stuff available out on the web.

Downloading a program works like this in Internet Explorer:

  1. Click the link that says to download the file.

    It may be a button or link or a graphical image.

    If prompted, choose the EXE, or executable, file option.

  2. If you see a security warning at the top of the window (below the tabs), choose the menu item Download File.

    The File Download dialog box appears. The first button in the dialog box is Run for an EXE (program) file.


  3. Click the Save button.

    You can, if you like, click the Run or Open button. The difference is that Save keeps the download on your PC, allowing you to reinstall the program later without having to download it again. The Run option downloads the file but doesn’t save it for reuse later.

  4. Click the Save button in the Save As dialog box.

    Save the program into your account’s Downloads folder. If you’re using Windows XP, you can create a Downloads folder in the My Documents folder and save the file there. You can save the file anywhere you like, but using the download folder makes it easy to remember where you put it.

    If the name provided in the Save As dialog box is obscure, feel free to change it to something more memorable.

  5. Wait as the download progresses.

If you don’t get a dialog box immediately following download, double-click on the file name in the Download folder. Then simply click the Run button in the dialog box that appears, which begins the installation. From there, just follow the directions on the screen.

Sometimes, a download is really a stub, or another program loader. By running the stub, you download an even larger file from a remote server. In that case, continue following the directions on the screen that work through the setup procedure.

When the program is fully installed, it should work like any other program you installed from a disc.

Some websites offer you multiple links for downloading a program. They’re links to mirror sites, which are multiple locations that have the same program for downloading. Pick a mirror site near you. The download proceeds faster than it would if you chose a server located halfway around the world. Also, some sites may be busy, in which case choosing another mirror site results in a faster download.