The Mystery of Floppy "image" Revealed

Q: What's a floppy "image" and what do I do with it? Am I supposed to download it to a floppy or to my desktop? And then what?

A: The image is a computer file. You put it on a hard disk. It is called "image" because it contains the description of the physical surface of a potential floppy, like a snapshot -- hence "image". Apple came up with this idea to ease software distribution via on-line services. This means that if you use the right program (Apple's DiskCopy 4.2, for example), you can tell it to read an "image" file and then write it out to a floppy disk, and it will result in a ready floppy disk which is formatted and has everything exactly as Apple (or whoever made the image) wanted it. And, of course, it can work in the other direction. You can take a floppy with something on it, have a program read it and write a snapshot of it in an "image" file, which you can send to someone via e-mail, for example. The actual floppy never travels by mail, but the person can get an exact replica of it by simply reversing the process. Clever? But it gets better.

Turns out that you really don't have to write the "image" out to a floppy to use it on your own computer once you've got the "image" from the Internet or other source. A program called "DropDisk" can read the "image" and trick your computer into thinking th at you just inserted a real floppy disk (the one encoded in the "image" file) into its disk drive. And so an icon of a floppy disk appears on the desktop and you can use this "make-believe" virtual floppy as any regular floppy disk.

That's why I recommend using "DropDisk" when working with "image" files from Apple -- trying to save people some floppies!

Navigational Aid