How to Download a Song Onto a Desktop
By Clare Edwards
Downloading music from an online source is a convenient and affordable alternative to buying CDs. You can select the individual songs that you want instead of purchasing an entire CD. While you'll usually pay a small amount for each song, you can sometimes find free music -- a taste of the music to encourage you to buy the whole CD, as a limited-time offer or simply a giveaway by a noncommercial artist. Once you have downloaded the song onto your desktop computer, you can transfer it to your MP3 player or other device.
Navigate to a site offering songs for download. You can often find free music on blogs or social networking sites -- bands' and artists' MySpace pages, for example, often have songs for download. Other sites offering free music include MPFree.com and Epitonic.com.
Right-click with your mouse on the song you wish to download.
Select "Save Link As..." from the menu. A window will open showing you the possible locations on your computer where you can save the file. Save your songs to the "My Music" folder in Windows -- they'll be easier to find. Wait for the file to download.
Play your new song by opening the "My Music" folder and double-clicking on the file. Your default media player launches and the song plays.
Downloading from ITunes
Check that your computer meets the minimum requirements for the iTunes software. It must have at least a 500 MHz processor and 256MB of RAM as of May 2012 -- greater if you want to play videos.
Navigate to the iTunes download page. There are two check boxes and a field for an email address; these are only necessary if you want to receive regular mailings from Apple. If not, you can remove the checks from both boxes and leave the email field empty.
Click "Download Now" and choose "Save" from the pop-up dialogue. Make sure you put the file somewhere you can find it, such as your computer's desktop. Once the installation program has downloaded, run it to install iTunes on your computer. The first time you launch iTunes, you will have the option to add any existing music on your computer to your iTunes library.
Navigate to the iTunes Store. Click on "Register" to sign up with a new account. Complete the registration process. Click the "Music" tab. You will see a selection of new songs; you can choose one of these, search for a different song by category or type a term into the search field.
Click the "Play" button next to the title to preview the song you're interested in. Click the download button with the price for the track to purchase the song. Once payment is complete, the song will be downloaded into your iTunes library.
Navigate to the download page for a torrent client such as uTorrent or Vuze. Download and install the torrent client on your desktop computer.
Navigate to a free legal torrent site such as Legit Torrents.
Click on the "Download Torrent" link for the song you want. Your torrent client will launch and you will see a dialog box open with the files you are about to download. Click on "OK" to begin torrenting the song. Wait for the download to complete.
Downloading Songs from Other For-Pay Sites
Go to the signup page for a site offering commercial music downloads. Examples include Amazon, HMV and Napster.
Register for an account. You'll need an email account and your credit card. For some sites, such as Amazon, you will pay per song. For subscription-based services like Napster you will usually pay a monthly fee.
Search for songs by name or by category. For a large store selling items other than music, you will need to go to the relevant department. On Amazon, for example, you would need to navigate to the MP3 store using the tab at the top of the page.
Click the "Buy MP3" button, or something similar, and confirm your purchase. Follow any onscreen directions to save the file to your desktop computer. Exact menu options and button names vary from site to site.
Items you will need
Hard drive with sufficient space to store music files
Email account (optional)
Credit card, PayPal or other online payment method (optional)
Commercial sites such as Amazon and Napster have free songs available, but you will need a credit card to sign up. Many commercial sites also offer free trials for new users.
Audio files are larger than image or document files. Make sure you have plenty of space on your hard drive.
Make sure that any site you download songs from is offering them legally. If you download pirated material, you could face a large fine.
Make sure that any file you download really is a song. Malicious software, such as viruses, worms and Trojan horses, can be disguised as songs.
Clare Edwards has been providing Internet content since 1998. She has written and translated for a variety of markets: everything from technical articles to short fiction and essays on alternative spirituality. She holds a certificate of higher education in electronics and audio arts from Middlesex University.