Within the Same Machine
The ability to transfer a file from one application to another within the same machine depends on the import and export capabilities of the application. All full-featured applications accept a variety of foreign files.
Graphics applications (drawing programs, desktop publishing, image editing, etc.) are typically designed to import and export a wide variety of file formats. Just look at the import/export menus.
Some word processing and database programs can detect different file types by merely opening the file. Others have to be explicitly told the type of file it is. Look for Import, Export and Place functions in the menus. See ASCII file
From One Computer to Another
Using a File Transfer Program
File transfer programs provide a way to transfer files between two computers cabled together or in different locations. Programs such as Windows Direct Cable Connection (DCC) and Laplink, a veteran file transfer product, are examples of these utilities.
For remote transfer, the simplest way is to attach the file via e-mail (see how to transfer a file over the Internet
). If e-mail accounts are not set up at both ends, you can transfer files via modems and a file transfer program. The modems on both machines do not have to be the same brand, but the file transfer programs do. However, if the remote computer does not already have the program installed, the transfer program may be able to install itself on the remote side after you connect to it.
Since a file transfer program is dedicated to this single purpose, the transfer protocol is typically built in and hidden from the user rather than being selectable as it is in a general-purpose communications program. You can also view on screen the directories of both the local and remote machines.
Third-party transfer programs come with special cables to connect both computers via the serial, parallel or USB ports. See null modem cable
, Laplink cable
Using a Communications Program
Before the Internet became popular, general-purpose communications programs were used for file transfer and general access to a BBS. Communications programs in both machines do not have to be from the same vendor as they all support a selection of popular transfer protocols such as Zmodem. In order to transfer a file remotely, both machines need modems, which can also come from different vendors.
The user in the receiving computer sets the communications program to Auto Answer. The user in the sending computer uses the communications program to dial up the modem of the receiving machine. Both users must agree on a file transfer protocol, the best one generally being Zmodem. When a connection is made, the sending computer selects Upload and identifies the file or files to be sent. The receiving computer selects Download. When the transfer is complete, each user selects "hang up."
If the machines are side-by-side, instead of using a modem, the programs may support up to three cable types for direct connection between the same port on each machine: serial ports (null modem cable), parallel ports or USB ports. Since there are no modems and telephone lines to dial, the transfer is made by cabling the machines together and selecting Upload and Download (send and receive) in the respective communications programs.