How to download an app, file, or program from the Internet

Updated: 09/15/2017 by Computer Hope

DownloadThe following help is the steps on how to download an audio clip, documents, PDFs, program, picture, or another file in all modern browsers.

Tip: When you are downloading something, you are getting information from the Internet. Downloading should not be confused with copy or save, which are tasks you would do when handling files that are not on the Internet (e.g. copying files from another drive). Downloading is also not an upload, which is sending a file to a computer on the Internet.

Note: Files on the Internet may contain viruses or malware. The best method to protect your computer is to make sure you have an anti-virus and anti-malware program installed and make sure it is up-to-date. Additional information and help about computer viruses can be found on our virus help page.

How to download

  1. To initiate a download from a website, you must first click on the link. A link is usually denoted by text with an underline with different colored text but may also be an icon or button. If you want to download an audio file, picture, or other media that has no link skip to our download examples for help with these types of downloads.
  2. After clicking a link to the file the browser should either start the download or ask what you'd like to do with the file depending on the browser you're using. If you're using an earlier browser that asks you where you want to save the file make sure it's a location you'll remember, like the desktop. Below is additional information how each modern browser handles downloads.

ChromeGoogle Chrome

Immediately starts the download in a bar at the bottom of the window that allows you to open the file if you click on the file name or show the file in the folder if you click on the arrow.

Internet ExploreInternet Explorer

Shows you a window or bar at the bottom of the window that allows you to either run the file or save the file. Running the file downloads the file and then opens it and Save will save the file to be opened later.

FirefoxMozilla Firefox

Displays an open box that allows you to save the file. By default, the Save File button will be disabled (grayed out) to prevent any accidental download. Clicking on the dialog box will allow you to click the Save File button. Once clicked the download will go into the blue arrow pointing down in the top-right corner of the Firefox window.

EdgeMicrosoft Edge

Shows a bar at the bottom of the window that allows you to either run the file or save the file. Running the file downloads the file and then opens it and Save will save the file to be opened later.

OperaOpera

Opens a Save As window that allows you to save the file into the Downloads folder or another folder on your computer.

  1. Once the file has been downloaded, it can be opened in your downloads folder.

Downloading Examples

Below is additional information with examples on all of the most popular types of downloads on the Internet.

How to download an app or program

One of the most popular types of downloads is downloading an app or program that can be installed on your computer. For PC users these files are .EXE files and on Apple computers these files are either .DMG and .APP files are executable files.

Note: Many programs may also be included in a compressed file. If the download file or link ends with a .arj, .zip, .tar, or .tgz see the next section for steps and examples on downloading a compressed file.

Below is an example test executable file to run on your computer. This executable file will display the message "Congratulations you've successfully downloaded an executable program file from the Computer Hope Website."

Download download-example.exe

How to download a driver

Today, most drivers are either included in a compressed file or are contained within a self-extracting executable file. Below is an example of a text executable file to run on your computer as well as a compressed file containing the download example file.

Tip: If the driver is a compressed file and does not contain an executable or setup file look for a readme file that explains how to install the drivers or use our steps below on how to install drivers on a computer.

How to download a compressed file (e.g. .zip and .rar)

To make files smaller or include several files in one downloadable file a download may also be a compressed file. Typically these files end with .arj, .zip, or .tgz and after they've been downloaded must be uncompressed before they can be run.

Below is an example compressed file called example.zip. Once this file is downloaded, you'll need to decompress the file which contains a readme.txt file with a download-example.exe file.

Download example.zip

How to download an audio file (e.g. .mp3)

For sites that have links to downloading an audio file such as a .mp3 file, it is similar to downloading other files on the Internet. For sites that are streaming audio or have the audio embedded into a web page, it can be a little more tricky to get the audio from a streaming site.

How to download a movie file

Downloading a movie file such as a .mp4 file is similar as all other downloads if it is contained in a link, you can right-click on the link and choose the Save link as, Save target as, or the Save linked content as option. If the movie is embedded in the web page with an arrow pointing down next to the audio controls, you can use that link to download the movie. Other streaming movie services that do not have a download link may require additional software to grab the video as it is being downloaded.

Below is an example link to a .mp4 video file that can be right-clicked and saved using the Save link as, Save target as, or the Save linked content as option.

Download the computer-hope.mp4

How to download a YouTube video

Steps and help with downloading a YouTube Video or the audio of a YouTube video can be found on the links below.

How to download a picture or image

Computer Hope LogoAny picture or image can be saved to your computer (downloaded). As an example, we've shown the Computer Hope logo to the right as a test image to download to your computer.

  1. Right-click on the image.
  2. Depending on your browser click the Save image as or Save Picture as option.
  3. Choose the location of where you want to save the image. Once saved you'll be above to open the picture in an image editor or another program that supports the image format.

Tip: You can also choose to copy the image in the image and then paste it into any document or graphic program.

How to download a PDF

A PDF can be downloaded like most programs. However, because most browsers today open the PDF in the browser, it can be confusing for some users on how to save the PDF to the computer instead of opening it in the browser. Below are the steps on how to download a PDF to your computer.

  1. Right-click on any link that opens a PDF.
  2. Click the Save link as, Save target as, or the Save linked content as option.
  3. Choose where you want to save the PDF file.

You can follow the above steps with the link below to download our example of a PDF.

Download example.pdf

How to download a document

Example docA document like a Microsoft Word document can also be downloaded by clicking any link pointing to a document. Because a browser does not typically open a document in the browser, it should automatically start the download. You can try this now by clicking the picture to the right to download our example.doc file.

If your browser is trying to open the document or the link is not downloading you can also right-click on the link and choose the Save link as, Save target as, or the Save linked content as option

How to download a spreadsheet or CSV

A spreadsheet can be downloaded by clicking any link pointing to the spreadsheet file (.xls, xlsx). Because a browser does not typically open a spreadsheet in the browser, it should automatically start the download. You can try this now by clicking the link below to download our example.xls file.

Download example.xls

If your browser is trying to open the document or the link is not downloading you can also right-click on the link and choose the Save link as, Save target as, or the Save linked content as option

Note: Many websites that grab information from a database do not save the data as a .xls, .xlsx, or another spreadsheet file format. Instead, the files are saved as a comma separated value (.CSV) file. These files can also be downloaded in the same way and then imported into a spreadsheet program like Excel.

How to download a text file

By default, any link that points to a text file is opened in the browser. To save a text file to your computer to be opened and edited in a text editor, right-click on the link and choose the Save link as, Save target as, or the Save linked content as option. You can try this now by clicking the link below to download a readme.txt file.

Download the readme.txt file