This applies to just about any download from a web page, not just my books.
When you’re given a link to download a file, what happens when you click on that link depends on the type of file, how that file is referenced on the web site, and even what browser you’re using. Bottom line: something as “simple” as downloading a file can be a confusing and befuddling mess.
I’ll outline an approach that I recommend you use for any and all downloads. Naturally, there will still be small differences based on what browser you’re using, but at least you’ll know what’s happening.
And for now, at least, I’ll tell you which browser to avoid, since it just doesn’t work.
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Click versus Save As… to download a file
When you click on a link to a file, you’re essentially telling your web browser, “do whatever you think is best for this type of file”.
That might mean the file will be downloaded and saved to your default Downloads folder. It might mean the file is downloaded to a temporary location and displayed within the browser. It might mean the file is downloaded and “run”. It might mean something else entirely. And as I mentioned earlier, it all depends on what browser you’re using, how it’s configured, the type of file, and even the configuration of the web site referencing the file.
The alternative is to perform something referred to as a “Save As…”. It’s a concept used in many programs running on your PC. “Save” just saves your current file by writing it to disk, whereas “Save As…” gives you options, including where on your computer to save the file, renaming the file, and making other changes as part of the process of saving it.
When it comes to download links displayed in your web browser, the same concepts apply. Selecting the equivalent of “Save As…” for a download bypasses that whole “do whatever you think is best” step and puts you in control. You can see exactly what is being downloaded, and specify exactly where it should be placed.
How do you do that? Well, that’s where things get confusing.
It’s not always the same.
The difference faces of Save As…
In Internet Explorer, right-click on the link to the file you want to download. You’ll be shown a pop-up menu that includes a “Save target as…” item.
Click that, and you’ll be presented with a dialog that allows you to specify exactly where you want the file to be downloaded.
Here’s the problem, though: what I’ve discussed as “Save target as…” may be known by other names, depending on the browser you use.
- IE: Save target as… (my example above)
- Chrome: Save link as …
- FireFox: Save Link As …
- Safari: Download Linked File As …
- Other browsers: who knows?
About the only commonality is that they typically end in “as …”.
The key is to look for the menu item that would seem to indicate that you’re saving whatever the link points to as a file on your computer. If it brings up a dialog allowing you to specify where on your computer to save it, then you’ve probably got the right thing.
Where to save?
When you download a file and let the browser save it for you (i.e. you don’t use “Save target as…” or its equivalents), it decides where to put things. Typically, that’s either of two places:
- Your “downloads” folder – usually C:\Users\<your windows login name>\Downloads
- The most recent folder into which a download was placed the last time you used “Save target as…”
One of the reasons I prefer “Save target as…” is that it puts everything in your control. The download is placed where you specify, and what happens to the download after it’s complete is also up to you.
So where to place it?
Well, to be honest, that “Downloads” folder is a fine place. If you’re not sure, putting all your downloads there means they’ll be easy to find when you’re looking for them later.
My approach is somewhat different. I have my hard disk’s folders organized around what I’m storing there. Pictures go in this folder, programs in that one, ebooks in another, and documents in another still. (In fact it’s much more complex, but you get the idea.) So when I use “Save target as…” to download a file, I choose the destination folder appropriate to what I’m downloading.
The important thing is I have an organization scheme, and I use “Save target as…” to place downloads according to the way I have things organized.
You may have your own organization scheme… or you may have none at all, in which case, that “Downloads” folder is still a pretty good place to put things.
Step away from the Edge
Everything I’ve just explained applies to most current, modern browsers, save one:
Microsoft Edge, the new browser that comes with Windows 10.
It has no “Save target as…” or equivalent. When you download a file, it saves things where it saves things (typically the “Downloads” folder), and after downloading files, it does what it thinks is appropriate for that particular file type (programs are run, pdfs are opened in the system’s pdf-reading program, and so on). I’ve now heard from several folks that recent updates to Edge have added a “Save as…” equivalent, though I’m not yet seeing it myself. Nonetheless….
My advice? Don’t use Edge. At least not for downloads.
Internet Explorer is still there in Windows 10. Use it instead. Or use Chrome, or Firefox, or just about any other more fully-featured browser.
Edge just isn’t ready to give you the control you should have. Hopefully, someday it will, but not today.