I don't like where my downloads go


How to tell your programs what to do

I've heard many folks say "I can't find that super great file I just downloaded. Where did it go?" More than likely the answer is, "The file is exactly where the program downloaded it to on your hard drive."

Trouble with programs, they don't know where WE want them to go and always assume you want the program where it feels like putting it. No more, I say. No more because there is a way to make your programs do things the way you want. In particular, make your browser download files to where you want them.

With very minor changes, the steps I'll outline for Windows95 can also be used with Windows 3. First thing you have to decide is "Where do I want my downloads to go?" On my system I created a special folder called DOWNLOADS. For Windows 3 you'll have to shorten the name to the eight character limit.

I also don't put anything on my C: drive unless I absolutely have to. If you are fortunate enough to have more than one hard drive, leave C: alone. Some programs will write a few configuration files to that drive but will otherwise work fine from any drive you install them to. All you have to do is change the drive letter and path to your own.

Let's create the DOWNLOADS folder. With win95 you will want to open Explorer. Now choose a drive. Remember, you are going to put ALL of our downloads to this folder so you will want to have about 10 megs free as a minimum. Why so much? Have you seen the size of the new Netscape Communicator download? The 'typical' download is over 7 megabytes in size while the 'professional' file is over 14 megabytes in size. One program, and it takes at least 8 megs of hard drive space just to download.

Once you have selected which drive to use, click on the File menu and select New. Then select Folder. In the right hand pane you will see a highlighted folder. Just type in the new name and hit return. Remember where you put that download folder. Jot it down if you have to. If you put it on your D: drive, you would write down D:\downloads . That is called the path to the folder.

A path will always consist of a drive letter, a colon and then the folder name or names. The shortest path will be C:\ while the longest path is only limited by the DOS you are using (255 characters is generally considered the maximum).

Now we'll make Netscape obey us and force the program to use the downloads folder you just created. To do this you right click on the Netscape icon on your desktop, then select Properties from the popup menu. As usual, I provide you with a look at what a property sheet will look like. (**screen shot available**)

There are two tabs at the top, General and Shortcut. General only tells you some general information about the icon. Click the Shortcut tab. (**screen shot available**) This is where you are going to tell Netscape how to behave.

The Target line tells win95 where to find the program that the icon represents. You do NOT want to change this line. The next field down is the Start In: line. This is where you get to tell Netscape what to do. By changing this line you tell the program that data, downloads or other information can be found at this location. Highlight what is there, which will usually be an exact copy of the Target line. Now type in the path to your Downloads folder. Click on ok and you're all set.

The next time you run Netscape and you download a file from the web, it will automatically be placed in your Downloads folder for you. The best part is, changing the Start In: path will not affect the operation of the program one bit. Except to make it easier for you to find the files you download.

This trick will work for most any shortcut on your desktop. All of my word processing programs begin in my G:\Documents folder. I ever need to find a particular document I've worked on? It will always be in my G:\Documents folder because I told the programs to Start In that folder. I don't recommend you change the Start In folder for things like games, though. Basically, this trick will work for nearly any program that saves data to a disk. Programs like Netscape when it downloads. Programs like WordPad or Notepad that save the documents your write. Even your spreedsheet programs can be taught where to save things without you having to go through the Save As, change to the new folder, routine.

A little helpful hint here. I download programs to my Downloads folder. Then I unzip the program to a folder called Unzip Temp. By doing this I am able to quickly delete the files created by the unzip program that the setup program uses to install the program. A quick Select All from the Edit menu, a press of the delete key, and all those files are history. This saves me from having to wade through all of the setup files mixed with my download files. Even the self-extracting files are copied to the Unzip Temp folder before I run the *.EXE program.

I also have a third folder stashed away on one of my other drives that I call Archive. Once I've installed the program I just downloaded, I right click the file name in the Downloads folder and Send To another folder. Make sure you use the Move, not the Copy when you send a file to your archive folder. This removes it FROM the downloads folder and writes it to your archive. Windows 3 users can use the Cut and Paste functions from the Edit menu of the File Manager window to accomplish the same thing.

I've learned enough. Take me back now.