How do I download an app, file, or program from the Internet?

Updated: 04/26/2017 by Computer Hope

DownloadNote: When you are downloading something you are getting information from the Internet. Downloading should not be confused with copy, save, or upload, which are tasks you would do when handling files that are not on the internet (e.g. copying files from another drive).

The following example uses Microsoft Internet Explorer because it is one of the more familiar browsers. Although other browsers may not follow these steps exactly, this page should provide you with a good outline as to how a file is downloaded from the Internet.

  1. To initiate a download from a website, you must first click on the link. A link is usually denoted by an icon or different colored text.
  2. Next, the browser should ask what you'd like to do with the file. Unless you want to run the program immediately, it is recommended you save the file to a location on your computer that you're going to remember, like the desktop. To do this, click Browse, then select the file folder or location to which you'd like to save the file.
  3. If the file you've downloaded is executable, double-click the icon to start the setup process. However, the majority of the time, a downloaded file is compressed and requires another program to extract the file's contents before setup can begin. Fortunately, this function is built into later versions of Windows.
  4. Once the file has been extracted, double click the setup icon to install.

Note: It is important to realize that files on the Internet may contain viruses or malware. The best method to protect yourself from this 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.

Try Now

The link below allows you to practice downloading a file called This file is an executable file. It opens a window and displays a message indicating that it was successfully downloaded. Due to its programming, this file only works on computers running Microsoft Windows.

Test downloading a file