Stump the PC Club is a free tech-advice column written by members of the North Orange County Computer Club, which has been in existence since 1976. Visit the club’s site at noccc.org.
QUESTION: My Downloads folder has several programs named setup.exe. Of course they’re named setup(1), setup(2), etc. How can I tell what they are?
PC CLUB: Developers tend to do a poor job naming their programs’ setup files. Fortunately, you can rename them and they’ll work just fine. A quick perusal of your Downloads folder may reveal a lot of executable (.exe) and/or Zip (.zip) files you just don’t recognize. For example, I have one called pwhe42, another called 385-INST-WIN7-A, and three with an oh-so-helpful name of Setup. Developers should be shot for that one. How are you supposed to know what these files are for – especially if they’ve been there awhile?
If you’re a Windows user, try hovering your mouse over the filename. You should see a little pop-up information window, in some cases containing a more complete description of the file. However, I think there’s a better option: After you download a file, just rename it. Just because the developer calls it Setup doesn’t mean you have to. That executable or Zip file doesn’t care what its filename is. So, for example, let’s say you downloaded a program called Duplicate File Finder, but the executable is called DFsetup.exe. Lots of luck remembering what it is a month from now!
After the download is done, rename the file (by right-clicking it and choosing Rename). Call it something like DuplicateFileFinderSetup. Then you’ll have no trouble figuring out its purpose. In some cases you may be prompted for a filename prior to downloading the file. In that case, rename it them.
Another problem is locating a file after you download it. Here’s how to make it easier:
- Internet Explorer– you will get a dialog box asking you for a file name and location. You can write down the location so you can find the file in the future. Explorer 9 may change this behavior.
- Firefox – select Tools, Options and click Browse in the Downloads options to reveal your current download folder. You can either change it or tell Firefox to let you choose a location for each download.
Another way that avoids having to rename downloaded files is to place each one in its own, appropriately named, folder. This is the method I use.
Ed Schwartz is a member of the North Orange County Computer Club. To send in a question, go to edwardns.com and click the Contact Me menu. Archives of previous columns are also on the website.