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Napster Guide for Inexperienced Downloaders Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 July 2000
You’ve never downloaded a song and you want to give it a try. How do you do it? Here is a simple guide to downloading music using Napster (or Macster if you have a Macintosh). It is still an imperfect process and you may encounter some problems along the way, but by following these directions, you have a good shot at finding that rare Air Supply B-Side track that you’ve been searching high and low for.

Step 1. Hardware and Software
You need to have a good computer with an Internet connection (preferably a DSL or cable modem if possible). The last thing -you want to do is wait 4 hours while your Mac LC II or 486 PC with a 14.4k modem downloads an MP3 music file. If your computer at least has a 56K modem and a processor that runs over 133mHz, you should be in business. You will also have to have a program such as RealPlayer or Windows Media Player to play the MP3 files once you have downloaded them. If you really want to get creative, you can go to and download a virtual MP3 jukebox to create custom playlists with the MP3’s that you will be downloading. The Napster and Macster sites also have various players that you can download.
Step 2. Download Napster
If you are using a PC, get on the Internet and go to or if you are using a Macintosh, go to At the site, you will see right on the first page the most current version of Napster (or Macster). You must download the program and install it on your system. The easiest way to do that is to save in onto your desktop and then double click on the Napster or Macscer icon and follow the simple on-screen commands to install the program. Once the program is installed, it’s always a good idea to restart your system. The sign up process is simple and after answering a few simple questions you are almost ready to go.

Step 3. Do Not Download Metallica
You’ve probably gone to search engines such as Yahoo! or to find websites about certain topics before. Napster and Macster work like a search engine for finding songs. Once you have signed up for your account you can start building you collection of MP3’s. When you signed up, you gave some personal information, so make sure you don’t download a track that will get you in trouble. Downloading any track with the words Metallica or Dr. Dre in it as well as a growing list of other artists who are fighting Napster will potentially cause your account to be suspended. Just be smart and download with care.

People often make the mistake of thinking that you will download songs from the actual Napster or Macster website, but that is not the case. Based on IRC chat technology, you are connecting into a huge "chat room" with all of the other Napster users and are actually downloading the songs from other people’s computers.

Step 4. Searching Napster
To actually find a song or artist, go to the "Macster" or "Naptster" icon at the top of your screen and select "search" from the pull down window. This will open the search window. Another way to access this search window is by pressing "Apple + F" on a Mac or "Control + F" on a PC. I recommend setting your search parameters in the preferences section so your results will only find songs from people who have at least a cable modem connection or faster. If you try do download a song from someone with a dial up connection, it will take a long time to get the songs, and it’s just no fun to wait 30 minutes to download a 3-minute song.

You can search by artist or title, and your results will appear in a window called "Search Results." You can see all of the songs that your search resulted in and file information such as the size of the MP3, the total length, and most importantly, the speed of the connection that the file’s owner has. If you are searching for a very mainstream song such as "thriller" by Michael Jackson, chances are you will find multiple copies (I tried it and round about 40 people that had it on their computers at that particular time). Find a version of the song that is on a cable, DSL, T1, T2 or T3 line and double click on it. It will begin downloading into your "downloaded songs" folder. If there is a song that you have to have and the only version is on a dial up modem, just know that it will take a long time to download.

Step 5. Playing the MP3 File
Once the song has finished downloading, all you need to do is open the file in the player of your choice and enjoy the music. There are times when the MP3 files will not play, or download properly. You have to realize that this is not a perfect process. Sometimes people will log off of Napster while you are getting a song from their computer, or they will mislabel song files so you think you are getting a certain track and it turns out to be something totally different. It can be frustrating, but the best thing to do is just delete the non-working file and try downloading a different version.

As you become more familiar with Napster, you will learn that you can download multiple songs, put them in playlists and can even go into chat rooms for specific genres of music and look at other people’s track lists for ideas of great songs to download.

It is very addictive so you have to know that you may end up becoming a Napster junkie, searching your brain for the most random obscure songs, all available at your fingertips.

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