Computer Check - For Online Class

I strongly encourage students to verify that the systems they will use for the online class can handle links to these three types of files:

  1. .mp3
  2. .pdf
  3. .mov

They can test this by clicking on the three links below:




My initital tests found the following:

Using Internet Explorer on a Windows XP machine, the PDF file opened up using Adobe reader. Left clicking on the mp3 file opened up a blank browser window. Nothing happened after that. The same for the .MOV file. In order to play the MP3 and MOV files I would have to use Internet Explorer to download them (right click on the file and choose the option to save the files) and then open the from the folder in which they are saved. Depending on the settings of my computer I could either (a) double click them to open them or (b) launch the application that would access them and use that appliction to open them. (b) should always work.

However, using the Firefox browser, all three files (pdf, mp3 and mov) opened fine and played

The remainder of this web page gives additional information about what is needed for these links to work correctly.




Go to Start/all programs, at the top of the program list is :"Set Program Access and Defaults". Set associations from there. The screen captures below show how to chooes a default media player. This may fix some problems. Other settings can interfere with this association of file type and player.

set associations



Students in an online class click on links to access information provided by the instructor. These links may be to different kinds of things. Here are some of the most common ones:

We will focus initially on three of these : .mp3, .pdf, and .mov

Any computer connected to the internet should be able to handle links to all three of these files. Each one requires an application that can read that format and show, or play, it for the viewer. Free, and good, applications that do these things are available for all standard Operating Systems ( Windows, Mac, Linux) and browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox,... ).

Students planning to take an online course should verify that the computers they will use can handle these formats. If they encounter problems they should take steps to fix them before they start the course. One good approach is to get someone who knows this area to work on your computer to set it up to handle these file types.

There are two main ways to access these files.

LEFT CLICK : Click (left click) on the link in the browser window. If the browser is set up appropriately the file should be open and displayed (.pdf) or played (.mp3 and .mov). Browsers can be set up so that when a user clicks on a link to one of these files, the browser will offer a choice between opening or saving the file. If opening the file does not work, then save it and follow the instructions about dealing with a saved file below.

RIGHT ClICK: The other approach is to right click the link and save the file. Be sure to notice where it is saved. If you are not told where it is saved, you will want to note the exact name of the file so that you can search for it after it is saved. Once the file is saved, you will follow the instructions below.

Handling a Saved File (.mp3, .mov and .pdf):

Approach 1 - Double Click : Open the folder that contains the file. Double click the file. Computers can be set up to launch the application associated with that file type (.mp3, .mov or .pdf) and display, or play the contents of the file. However, any given computer may not be set up for this with a particular file type. If this does not work, use approach 2.

Approach 2 - Launch the application that will access this file and then use that application to open the file. If this does not work, consult an expert to help figure out why.

What Makes these approaches work... and what could be wrong?

Each format (.pdf, .mp3 and .mov) requires that appropriate software be installed before it can be played on a particular computer. The most common "reader" for .PDF file is "Adobe reader". There are a number of common applications to play .mp3 files. Among them are Winamp, "Windows Media Player" and Itunes. Windows Media Player and Winamp can also be set up to play ".mov" files.

Browsers may have their own settings as to how to handle these files. They may have "plug-ins" or they may use the same application that would be used when you double click a file in a folder. [ Additional information needed here .. not sure of the possibilities ]

Windows (and presumeable other Operating systems) store settings that determine what application will be used when a user double-clicks on a file with a particular suffix such as .mp3. Users can change this association. This association may not be set for some types, and may be set incorrectly for some types. This same association is also often used when a user clicks a link in a browser.

Howver, even if the association is not set, or not set correctly, for a given file type (e.g. .pdf) the user can still access the file. They do this by launching the appropriate application (e.g. Adobe Reader) and then using it to open the file.

Note the things that could cause things not to work as desired: