How to install a software program

Microsoft ExcelHow to install a software program can depend on the operating system being used and the program being installed. Because of all the different possibilities, we have created the steps below as guidelines for installing programs in each of the major operating systems.

Notice: This document has been created as a basic overview on how to install software programs, games, and utilities on your computer. If errors are encountered during the installation, this document will not cover those errors. Use our search to find information about install errors.

General Tips
Microsoft Windows users
MS-DOS Users

General Tips

  • Make sure your computer meets the system requirements of the program, game, or utility you are attempting to install.
  • The manuals for the program or the readme file located in the same directory as the install commonly contain exact instructions on how to install a program.
  • After installing or during the installation, a program may need to install other programs, files, or utilities before it can run. If this is the case, the program prompts you to install the program or you may need to run a separate install before the program can be fully used.
  • When installing a program, utility, or game, it is always a good idea first to close or disable any other programs that are running.
  • After installing a new program if it prompts you to reboot the computer, do it.

Microsoft Windows users

Many software programs, games, and utilities have an AutoPlay feature that will automatically start the setup screen for the software program when the CD is placed in the computer. If your program, game, or utility contains this feature, run the installation through the screen that appears after inserting the disc.

If you are installing a program, game, or utility that does not contain this feature or you are installing a program from a floppy diskette, follow the steps below.

  1. Open My Computer.
  2. Within the My Computer window, open the drive that contains the installation files. For example, if the files are on a floppy diskette, open the A: drive. If they're on a CD or DVD open the D: drive or the letter of the disc drive.
  3. Within the drive that contains your files, locate either a setup or install file. Double-clicking on this file should start the installation for the program, game, or utility. If you see multiple setups or install files, try to locate the Application file or double-click each of setup or install files until you find the file that starts the installation. Many times the icons associated with the installation files have the same name.

An alternate method of starting the installation in Microsoft Windows

  1. Click Start and Run.
  2. In the Run Window, type x:\setup or x:\install where x is the letter of the drive you want to start the installation. For example, if you are attempting to install a program from the floppy disk drive you would type a:\setup or a:\install. Usually with a CD or DVD it would be d:\setup but may be a different drive letter depending on your computer configuration.

MS-DOS users

Users installing a program from Microsoft DOS should have a basic understanding of the MS-DOS commands. If you are unfamiliar with any of the commands listed below, click the link to get additional information and examples on the commands.

  1. Before installing a program in MS-DOS, you must switch to the drive or directory that contains the installation files. If you are installing a program from a CD or diskette, switch to that drive. If the installation files are located in a different directory, use the dir command to list the directories and the cd command to switch into the appropriate directory.
  2. Once you are in the directory or drive that contains the installation files, run the executable for the setup. Many times this can be done by typing setup or install at the prompt to start the installation. If both of these commands give a bad command or file name error message, type dir *.exe or dir *.com or dir *.bat. These commands will list any executable files; if any files are listed, execute these files to run the installation or setup of the program. If no files are listed when typing all three of the above commands, you are in the incorrect directory or drive letter for that program.

Additional information