First of all, thanks for your curiosity about downloading music from the internet. After reading these hints, I hope you'll give it a try. At this point, I will assume that you haven't purchased any specialized programs for playing audio files. After all, I haven't either! I will discuss downloading and saving separately. Since most people have Internet Explorer these days, I'll use this program as my example. But most of what I say works exactly the same in any other browser.
If you just want to listen to something quickly, such as a
sample of a song, then a simple download is your best choice.
Here's what happens. Screen-reader users, just hit your tab key
until you hear the name of the file that interests you. Everyone
else, chase your mouse to the link you want! Then hit "enter"
or click the left mouse button, depending on your browser.
At this point Windows actually opens another program for you, your default player. Unless you've done something to change this, for mp3 files this is probably going to be Windows Media Player. On other sites, you will end up in Real Player for some real audio files. But I like the mp3 because the standards don't change much and you're not required to upgrade your program every 20 minutes to keep up.
For those of you using screen reading software, you'll hear the name of the program spoken, Windows Media Player or whatever.
After a minute or so of disc whirring, surprise! You'll start hearing music. So you sit back to enjoy. But then it stops. It starts again, stops, and sputters its way through the song. Here's why. When you listen to something like a radio station on the internet, of course you want constant sound, keeping up with what's going on at the radio station, right? Sending information live like this is called streaming. So when you download a file, your browser tries to be smart for you. It looks at the file size, determines how long the download might take, and assumes that you want to hear it right away. So when it thinks the timing is right, it starts playing it for you. The trouble is, the data comes to you in chunks. In reality, unless you have a super fast connection, one chunk often finishes before the next one is ready. That gives you the pauses. There's nothing wrong with your computer or with my web site. That's just how it works!
Once the download has finished, you are still in Windows Media Player. Hitting the space bar will play and pause the selection. Hitting the period will stop it. The up and down-arrow keys raise and lower the volume. If all you want to do is hear something quickly, then after you've listened, just exit the media player (Use alt-F4 or alt-F, then x) and you'll be returned to my web site. If you later decide you want to find that file, it's stored in your browser's history or cache. If your computer skills are like mine, you could create the song faster than finding it this way! I often find it faster to open it again from the web page itself.
If you know you want to keep a file, or you don't want to listen to the chunked up version of something first, there is a way to save it. Start by using that tab key or mouse to find the file that interests you. Instead of hitting "enter" hit the Windows context menu key. (or right click!) The down-arrow key will then take you to a familiar looking save file dialog. Hit enter and save the file just as you would in any other windows program. In this dialog you can choose the folder in which to save it. If you don't know the name of your default player, when you want to hear the file, just open it from the Windows Explorer. Go to its folder and hit "enter" on the file name. Windows will again automatically open the media player for you. But you will hear the entire song, uninterrupted.
So now that I've hopefully removed some of the mystery, why not give it a try! Then let me know how I did!
If you have any problems or suggestions, please feel free to Email me.
And of course, once you've successfully downloaded music files, I hope to see you on my order page.
Music of the Month
Guide Dogs First Hand
The Guide Dog Glee Club
From The Song Banks of Laurel Creek
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