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TI-83+/SE and TI-84+/SE Visual Guide for Beginners - Sending and Managing Files


Who's this guide intended for? This guide is intended for people who are new to the calculator scene and those who are not very good with computers. This guide may also be useful for others who ran into problems putting programs onto their calculators. This guide is extremely simplified, just for the purpose of being easy for any level of people. If you think its missing something or if you have suggestions, please feel free to post them on forum or email I hope you'll find this guide easy and useful, any feedback is appreciated. Also, please report any typos I missed.
There's quite a bit of text here but if you're new to calculators or have problems, I suggest you read thru all of it.


1. Connecting your calculator to your computer
2. Loading software onto your calculator
3. Running software on your calculator
4. Managing your calculator's memory

1. Connecting your calculator to your computer:

This is a serial TI-Graph Link cable. On the screen you can see a converter attached, it lets me plug this link cable into a COM port. In my case its COM1.

Note: If you have this type of cable, you must turn off your computer before attaching it your computer's serial port. Failing to do so may cause damage to your computer and/or attached device not being detected.

This is a USB TI-Graph Link cable. USB devices are all plug-and-play, which means your operating system will recognize the device as soon as you attach it. USB also allow hot swap so that you can plug and remove devices without turning off your computer.

This is the other end of your TI-Graph Link that goes into your calculator.

The newer Ti-84 Plus calculators come with a Mini-b port in addition to the standard port. This works the same way, but allows for faster transfers.

Now, plug one side of the cable into your calculator as you see on the screenshot to the left and then plug the other end into your computer. It doesn't matter which you do first.

2. Loading software onto your calculator:

Below: TI-Connect Main User Interface

This is TI-Connect, a program that allowes you to transfer files between your calculator and your computer. If you bought a USB link cable or TI-83+ Silver Edition you got it on a resource CD. Go ahead and put the resource CD into your computer's cd-rom drive and then follow prompts to install the link drivers and TI-Connect to your computer. If you don't have a resource CD, you can download TI-Connect from TI's website for free. Click [HERE] to download TI-Connect.

Now that you have TI-Connect installed, plug a link cable into your calculator if you haven't already done so and then launch TI-Connect (Note: there should be a shortcut for it on your desktop). Keep in mind that when you plug a link cable into your calculator it turns on automatically, but don't worry if you forgot to turn it off after use as it has an auto power down delay which will turn it off after about a minute or two of inactivity.

Go ahead and click on a button labeled "TI Device Explorer" as seen on screenshot to the left. This is a subprogram of TI-Connect that lets you manage files on your calculator. You should plug your link cable into your calculator before you run any of TI-Connect's subprograms because they auto detects your calculator when you run them. I will not discuss other subprograms here, but after you read thru this guide you'll be able to figure out how and what to use the for.

Note: Sometimes TI-Connect would not work for you, this was a problem with older versions failing to work on some computer configuations. To resolve this problem just download an updated version of the program from [HERE].
If you wish to be able to edit Basic programs or don't like TI-Connect, you can check out TI's older linking software called TI-Graph Link. However, its proprietary for each calculator and you'll need to get a version specifically for your calculator model. You can download it from [HERE].

Below: TI Connect's TI Device Explorer

This is TI Device Explorer you've just launched from TI-Connect's main interface.
It shows a nice sorted and categorized file tree of what you have stored in your calculator's memory with your calculator's model name as a root folder.

Below are descriptions for each category as well as basic functions of the program.

+Screen Image - Screen capture of your calculator's screen
+Device Settings - Graphing setting of your calculator
+List - Lists (rrays of numbers)
+Number - Number variables stored on you calculator
+Picture - Pictures stored on your calculator (numbered 0-9, 10 is maximum)
+Program - All the programs in you calculator's memory
+String - Strings (batch of numbers or characters)
+Flash/Archive - (archive memory aka flash. doesn't require power to retain its contents)

+Application Variable - Special variables used by flash applications you have
+Applications - Applications you have installed
+Group - Groups (packages of programs/variables for organizations purposes)
+Program - Archived programs

Loading files onto your calculator is explained below, so just continue reading.

Below: A folder with some downloaded files

If you haven't already done so, go download some files you like and save them somewhere on your computer.
You can find many games and programs on, and other calculator sites.

If left clicking download links doesn't work for you or you don't know where downloaded files will be saved to, right click a download link and choose "Save Target As..." (this option is similar in different browsers, my example is from Internet Explorer).

When you download your files, note requirement to run them. One of the requirements is a shell. A shell is a program with graphical user interface that will let you run other programs. Shells exist for many reasons such as overcoming software limitations of your calculator, adding extra functions that can be used in programs made for it or just creating a nice layout for you to run your files from. Basic programs do not require shell. Assembly programs usually require a shell, but sometimes can be run from a command line (home screen). When you go to download games or programs don't forget to download a shell too if they require it.

On a screenshot to the left you can see that I've downloaded some TI-83+ games as well as two most popular shells, ION and MirageOS. All the games I've downloaded require a shell to run.

To make it easier for you to learn calculator files basics you can download these files and just follow the screens below to learn about them. All these files can be found in TI-83+/SE Games and Programs sections of

Below: Contents of compressed archive (ION is a shell for TI-83 series of calculators, read above to learn what shell is)

Here I've openned up file I downloaded (from a screen above). Often, you'll see a large number of files in each program's zip that you download. However, only some are the actualy program files for your calculator. In our case a calculator is a TI-83+/SE and we need to find files specifically for it.

On a screenshot to the left we see that ION comes with two versions, one for TI-83 calculator (blue) and other for TI-83+/SE (red). Also notice the file extensions, here represented are group files (read above to learn what group files are). Files that end with .83g are TI-83 group files and .8xg are TI-83+/SE group files. Even though you calculator will be able to open up a group file from the other, files contained inside of it may not run on your calculator model.

To learn how to use each program that you download and to see its requirements or controls, always look for a text files named "readme" or with program's name. On this example a readme files is "ion.txt". Disregard other files, they're program source code and are for the people who would like to modify the program. You'll need programming knowledge and tools to do that.

Below: Contents of (an assembly game for a TI-83 series of calculators)

Here I've openned up file I downloaded (from 2 screens above). Often, you'll see a large number of files in each program's zip that you download. However, only some are the actualy program files for your calculator. In our case a calculator is a TI-83+/SE and we need to find files specifically for it.

On a screenshot to the left we see that mario83p comes with two versions, one for TI-83 calculator (blue) and other for TI-83+/SE (red). Also notice the file extensions, here represented are program files (read above to learn what group files are). Files that end with .83p are TI-83 program files and .8xp are TI-83+/SE program files. Most of the time you'll be able to run programs written in Basic on any calculator in the same series (here TI-83 series), but assembly programs will not run and you'll have to find a version for your calculator model. Luckily, Mario 83+ comes with versions for both calculators.

To learn how to use each program that you download and to see its requirements or controls, always look for a text files named "readme" or with program's name. On this example a readme files is "mario.txt" and "medit.txt" for its level editor. Also note that Mario 83+ has external levels and you'll need to load them to your calculator in order to play a game. External means that certain parts of a program come in a separate file(s). Mario 83+ also includes a level editor to let you create/edit game levels on your calculator.

Below: Unzipping (extracting) downloaded programs

Here I've unzipped ION and Mario 83+ as example.
WinXP, WinMe and Win2000 users already have zip capabilities built in, so you can just double click a compressed file to open it up. Then, select the calculator files (Tip: hold [Ctrl] and click files you want) and drag/drop them outside the window with zip contents (you can just unzip them into the same folder as your downloaded files or drag them into a different folder if you prefer to have some organization).
I've just created a folder called "Unzipped" (to create a new folder, right click your mouse and then choose New->Folder or go to the top menu and choose File->New->Folder). When unzipping just drag selected files into an open folder window or over it name in files list to unzip files into it.

People on other operating systems would do something similar to this but may need to download program to handle zip files.
Windows users can get free version of WinZip, Mac and Linux users can get Stuffit Expander. These are just some examples as there are lots of other programs available to handle zips for free over the internet.

Below: Select unzipped calculator files

Below: Send the above selected files to your calculator

Just drag the selected files into the TI Device Explorer window and then over "Flash/Archive" tag to send them right into your calculator's archive memory. To send them to RAM instead, just dram them over the calculator model tag (TI-83 Plus).
After doing so, you'll see a small window informing you that files are being send to your calculator.

Below: File transfer window (shows you what files are being send, their count and progess)

Wait until all files are sent and the follow the steps below to run your new programs. To send other files, see steps above.

Flash Applications:
If you decide to install a flash application onto your calculator, just follow the steps above. Flash applications for TI-83+/SE will have extension of .8xk.

Operating Systems:
From time to time you may want to upgrade your calculator's operating system to a newer version. In TI Device Explorer you can go to Actions->Updates and the check an option to look for Operating System update. Afterwards just follow any prompts to begin the installation. Before you begin the installation, MAKE SURE your battries have enough power, OS upgrade may take up to 40 minuetes and power or connection interruption will cause you to lose the operating sustem of you calculator thus rendering it useless. If this happens however, you'll need to start OS installation over. Those who don't know what they're doing shouldn't attempt this.

3. Running software you've loaded:

Okay, let's check our uploaded programs. Turn on you calculator and then press the [Prgm] button to go to Program menu. If you've only uploaded files described in the steps above then this menu will look like on my screenshot to the left.

Note/Update: ION comes in a group file. If you didn't have TI-Connect ungroup it for you, then you'll need to do it manually. Press [2nd] then [+] to go to Memory menu. Then, scroll down untill you see option called "Group..." or just press [8] to go to group menu. Now, press the right cursor button to switch to "Ungroup" tab. Select ION from the list and press [Enter]. This will ungroup the shell and now you can continue with instructions to install it.

First, we need to install the ION shell. So, use the arrow keys to select the ION and then press [Enter] to paste it to the main menu. When you do that your screen will look similar to the one on the left.

Press [Enter] again to run the program. This will install the ION shell and dispaly a success message on the screen like you see on a screenshot to the left.

Go back to the program menu by pressing a [Prgm] button to see a bunch of new files. From now on your ION shell is installed and you'll launch it by running program A (its selected on my screenshot to the left). Press enter when program A is selected to paste it to the home screen.

Press [Enter] again to run program A.

Note: Ion will not launch if there are no programs present for it to run.

This is the ION graphical user interface. All of your installed programs that are compatible with ION will be listed here. User your arrow keys to select different programs (use left/right to scroll thru different program pages if you have more files than fit on one screen). Press [Enter] to run programs and [Mode] to exit the shell.

4. Managing your calculator's memory:

To access the memory menu, go to hope screen then press [2nd] to be able to use secondary functions (yellow labels) and then press [+] (tagged with MEM). By doing this you'll end up at the memory menu like you see on my screenshot to the left.
From here you can either press [2] ro select the second option then press [Enter] to go to file namager.

Tip: If you ever need to check what operating system you're running or see your calculator's uniques ID, press [1] or choose the "About" menu option. I suggest you write down your calculator's ID and keep it for your records. If your calculator ever gets stolen or you decide to purchase licensed software, you'll need this ID.

Tip 2: If you have any group files on your calculator you can group/ungroup them by selecting the "Group..." option on the bottom of this menu or pressing a [8] button. You'll then be in Group manager menu which is pretty much self explanatory. Note that ungrouped files will be stored in your calculator's RAM, not archive. You can archive them manually after ungrouping.

This is the Memory Manager which you'd see if you followed the instructions above and pressed [2]. From here you can manage your files. Notice that you can view all files as well as selected type of files.

On a TI-83+ the top two lines will show how much free memory you have. The top most line will tell you how much RAM you have left nad second to top line will show how much archive you have left. On a TI-83 you have around 26kb of RAM and around 22kb on TI-83+/SE. TI-83 has no archive memory, TI-83+ has around 180kb of archive (when all flash applications are deleted) and TI-83+SE has around 1.5mb of archive (roughly 1500kb).

Go ahead and press [1] or select "All" option and hit [Enter] to see a list of your programs.

This is a list of all your programs. To the right of their names you see their size in kilobytes. Archived programs have an asterisk "*" next to their names. You can archive/unarchive files by selecting them and pressing [Enter]. To delete files select them, then press [Del] button and then confirm the deletion of your file.


That's about it for the calculator basics. You should be able to manage, send and run files on your calculator now. For other help or suggestions post on forums. I hope this guide was useful for you to get started with your calculator. If you think it was useful, your feedback is welcome. Also, if you think visual guides/faq's is a good idea, please let us know and we'll make more to cover other things to help people get to know their TI calculators better. Please visit our forum to ask other not covered questions and participate in many ongoing discussions.

Thanks for reading this.


We'd like to thank the following people for helping out with this FAQ:

lejeuneb - for screenshot updates
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