Who moved my files (Part two)

A Navigation Aid!

In our first Article, we learnt what Files and Folders are, and how to navigate File Explorer to see where they are being stored.

I am going to expand on the Navigation, to make sure we are confident in moving around the File System, before continuing on to explain about Moving files.


The "File Explorer" Icon
The “File Explorer” Icon

Open your File Explorer, buy clicking the yellow Folder icon at the bottom of the screen. This will open a Window, showing your Files and Folders. Go into your Documents Folder by double-clicking the Documents Icon (should be near the top somewhere)

We learnt the main sections (Ribbon, Location Bar, Navigation Pane, Files and Folders Section), and now I want to show you a couple of other useful bits.

Some new tools!
Some new tools!

At the left of the Location Bar, we have the “Back” and “Up” buttons.

“Up” will move you from the current folder you are looking at, and take you to it’s Parent Folder (the folder it is inside of). For example, if we go from Documents into the Addresses folder, we can then click “Up” to return to Documents.

“Back” works in a similar way, but takes you to the Folder you were previously in.

These may sound the same, but there is an important difference.

“Up” will always move you to the Parent Folder. “Back” will move you to the previous Folder. These will often be the same, but if yo have used the navigation Pane to move around, they may not be.  Lets look at an example:

Back And Up

Go into your Documents folder, and then into one of the folders inside Documents.

Click “Back”, and you return to Documents. Go inside a folder again, click “Up”, and we are back at Documents!

BUT! If we go into a folder, and then, using the left-hand navigation Pane, click on Pictures, where will these buttons take us?

“Back” will take us to the Folder we were previously in (e.g. Documents > Addresses). But “Up” will take us to “This PC”, as that is the Parent Folder of “Pictures”.

Try this a few times. Become confident with navigating your way around.

To help explain how this Hierarchy of Folders works, I have prepared an Image (everyone likes pictures, don’t they?)

Hierarchy of Folders
Hierarchy of Folders

We see here the “nesting” of Folders. “2017” is inside “Tax Returns”, which is inside “Documents”. “Glam” is inside “Heavy Metal”. which is inside “Music”. We sometimes refer to “Inside” as “Under”, which is why we go “Up” to the Parent Folder. If we go “Up” from “Holiday 2015” we get to “Pictures”.

Using the Navigation Pane, we can jump directly from wherever we happen to be to another Location. e.g. we can be looking at our 2015 Tax Returns (Documents > Tax Returns > 2015), and decide we are bored, and want to reminisce about a walk in the Park we went on. In the navigation Pane, we click on Pictures, and then A Walk in the Park. We then realise that we really have to get our tax Returns done, and go “Back”. Previous to A Walk In The Park, we were in Pictures, so “Back” takes us there. Clicking “Back” again takes us to Tax Returns > 2015, and we can complete our work. (The computer has remembered the chain of where we were previously. You may have seen a similar behaviour when browsing the Internet, and gone “Back” to a page you were previously viewing)

The “View” Menu

And eventually we get to the “Ribbon”!

At the top of your File Explorer Window is a section called The Ribbon:

The Ribbon
The Ribbon

You can see that there are some “Menus” (File, Share, View) at the top. These change which part of the Ribbon we can see. Depending upon which Ribbon we are looking at, there will be different Tools available.

We will not be using the “Share” Ribbon today.

The File Ribbon contains lots of useful tools for moving, copying and deleting Files and Folders. We shall come to these later. The first part I would like to show you is the View Ribbon.

The View Ribbon
The View Ribbon

We have noticed, while moving around our Folders, that sometimes the Files and Folders will be displayed differently. This can be controlled from the View Ribbon.

The central Section of the Ribbon has a block with several “Layout” options (Note that each Block has its title underneath).

Hovering over each of these Layouts will Preview the display for that layout.

Clicking on a Layout will set the Folder to that Layout.

Have a go at changing the layout of a Folder. Don’t worry if you do not like the new Layout. You can always change it back!

Next …

First, change your View to “Large Icons”.

You will recall that we do this by clicking on the View Menu (Top Left) to see the View Ribbon, and then clicking on “Large Icons”.

The main section of the Window should now show your files and folders as large Icons, with previews of some of them (Which ones are previewed will depend on exactly how your computer is set up and what programs you have installed).

Now, click on the “Sort By” Icon, to the right of the icon-size area. Notice that this has a small down-pointing triangle by it.

The "Sort By ..." Icon
The “Sort By …” Icon

The triangle indicated that the Icon has a sub-menu associated with it. When you click, a menu will appear next to your mouse pointer.

Have a look through the options. You may sort the files and folders by Date, or name, or type, or size … NOTE: This does NOT change the way the files and folders are stored. It only changes the way they are displayed on screen!

Usually the files and folders are arranged by Name, with all of the Folders displayed first, and then all of the Files.

Try arranging them by Type. (click “Sort By” and then click “Type”). You will see that all Files of the same Type (e.g. Photos, Letters, spreadsheets) are grouped together.


Talking of File Types, I would like to take a moment out to check your File Type Display Settings. This may sound a little daunting, but is actually very simple, and we will not dwell on it.

When you see your Files, do they have a three-letter Extension on the end of their name? (NOTE: Folders never have this. The computer knows they are Folders, and there are no “types” of Folders, so they do not need an “extension”).

If your file-names have Extensions (e.g. “letter.doc”, “P01284.jpg”, “ThankYouCard.pub”), then all is well. You could skip the rest of this section, but I would ask you to read it anyway.

If your file-names do not have Extensions, then I would like you to switch on Extension View. Simpy follow these instructions:

  • Make sure you are on the View Ribbon.
  • Click “Options” (far right of Ribbon). This will either open the Options Dialogue Window (if you clicked the higher part of the Icon), or produce a sub-menu, with only one item on it (if you clicked lower). If you get the sub-menu, click on it to open the Options Dialogue Window!
    Options Icon
    Options Icon


  • Options Dialogue Window
    Options Dialogue Window

    There should be three “tabs” at the top of this Window. General, View, and Search. Click View. (Notice that these “titles” look similar to the “tags” at the top of Index Cards. In computer terms, we call these titles “tabs”)

  • You should now see a list of options, with tick-boxes. Look for the one called “Hide Extensions for known types”.
  • Click the box at the left of this, to ensure that there is NO tick in it. This box should be UN-TICKED. EMPTY. Click it until it is EMPTY. NO TICK.
  • Click OK, at the bottom of the Window.

You should now have all Files displaying their extensions, and can get back to our Tutorial.

More Sorting

Now that we can see the File Extensions, we can see more clearly how the Sort By Type displays files of the same Type (same extension) together!

For  now, set the Sort By back to Name. All Files will be displayed in alphabetical order, regardless of type.

Now that you know how to do this, you may choose to display your files in which ever order you prefer. Remember, this does NOT affect how they are stored, just how they are displayed.

A Manilla Folder, containing some Files.
A Manilla Folder, containing some Files.

Remember that we are thinking of Files and Folders as pieces of paper inside Manilla Folders. There may be photos, receipts, letters, and business cards. by choosing to “Sort By Type”, you are saying “put all of the photos together, and all of the receipts together”. If you sort by Date, you are saying “Don’t worry what Type they are, put the newest on top”.

The computer neither knows nor cares what “order” they are in. It just knows that these papers are in that folder, and can display them to you in any order you choose!

The End … For Now …

Practice moving around your Folders, using the Navigation Pane (left hand side) and the main Section. Become familiar with the Back and Up buttons. Change the View of your folders, and Sort By different features.

If you need to, review this post, and have another read of Part One.

You should now have Folders that are easy for you to see, and find content within.

Next, I shall be looking at Organising your Files and Folders!

Where have all my files gone?

Long time passing …

The Windows 10 File Storage System

When you create files on your PC, whether they be photographs, letters, spreadsheets, invoices, shopping lists or anything else, they must be stored somewhere.

Windows 10, by default, creates a set of folders to keep your files in.

You have probably come across areas labelled “Documents”, “Pictures”, “Music”, “Downloads” etc. These are the default places that Windows will put your files in.

Woah, slow down, cowboy!

What are these “files” and “folders” you are talking about?

Well, a “file” is a collated set of information, held in one place. Be it a photograph, a letter, an invoice. It may help to think of a “file” as a piece of paper, or maybe several pieces stapled together.

Files may be of different “types”, depending upon what information is in them, and what program was used to make them. Letters, invoices and other text-based information often has the type “txt” (for very simple files) or “doc” (for more complex writing. Nowadays, this is being replaced by “docx”). You don’t really need to know much about types, apart from that they are for different information.

A “folder” is a container that may have other folders, and/or files inside it. The concept is based upon the physical “manilla folders” you would find in a filing cabinet in an average office.

A Manilla Folder, containing some Files.
A Manilla Folder, containing some Files.

Looking at the picture on the right, notice the similarity between this physical Folder, and the yellow pictures (or “Icons”) on your screen. There is a reason for this.

As in a Real filing cabinet, we may have lots of folders. Some may have other folders inside them. Some may have files inside them.

Got that? If not, read it again. Without understanding the basic “Files and Folders” structure, you are storing up trouble for later.

A “File” is a “chunk” of information, similar to a piece of paper. It may have writing, or a photo, on it.

A “Folder” is a container for Files, and other Folders.

In a real office, you may have a “Room”, and in the “Room” is a “filing cabinet”, and in the cabinet are “Drawers”. In these drawers will be “Folders” that contain “Files”.

On a computer, the “Room”, “Cabinet”, Drawers” and “Folders” are all called “Folders”.

So, where were we?

The "File Explorer" Icon
The “File Explorer” Icon

Folders. To begin, click the File Explorer Icon at the bottom of your screen. It looks like a Folder, with a blue “clip” on it.

A Window will open up, displaying your Folders. It should be split into several Sections.

On the Left, we have the Navigation Pane. At the top, we have the Quick Access Section. Under this, you will probably have a “Recent Items” Section.

This is the default Opening View, and slightly different from how we normally use File Explorer. To move into the usual view, we can go into a Folder. To do this, double-click a Folder. Let’s start with “Documents”, which you should see near the top of your screen.

Documents Folder, with many Files and Folders in it
Documents Folder, with many Files and Folders in it

You should have a Window similar to the one shown here. You may have fewer Items within it.  (You will not have the red labels! They are for illustration only!)

Take a moment to familiarise yourself with the different sections.

The Ribbon (at the very top) is where your Tools are.

Below this is the Location Bar, which tells you which Folder you are currently viewing.

The Navigation Pane (on the left) can be used to quickly move between folders. Not all folders are shown here.

The “Files and Folders” section, the main part of the Window, shows what is inside the Folder you are currently viewing.

Using the above example of a Folder with many items in, we can see that each item has a different picture (“Icon”).

The Yellow “Manilla Folder” Icons are Folders, that contain other items. They show a glimpse (“Preview”) of what is in them.

The items without a Yellow Folder icon are Files. Some, such as the “All About Eve album cover” (bottom left) and “Belvedere Castle” (Bottom middle) files show a “preview” (called a “Thumbnail”, after the concept of a thumbnail-sketch) , while others display an Icon that show the File Type, and what program they will open with (e.g. the blue ones are “Libre Office Writer, similar to Microsoft Word. The green one (bottom right) is a Libre Office Calc/Microsoft Excel spreadsheet).

Still with me?

So, hopefully we have a grasp of what files and folders are, and how to recognise them. Let’s try an example:

I have a folder called “BackUp  CDs” (top middle, with the red “Adobe Reader” preview Icons showing that this folder contains some .pdf files).

Remember that we can tell that it is a Folder because it looks like a yellow Manilla Folder!

I shall double-click this to see what is in it:

My "BackUp CDs" Folder
My “BackUp CDs” Folder

Two things to notice:

  1. It looks slightly different; the icons are smaller, and show extra details. This is normal, and one of the many “Views” that you can set. Windows will sometimes try to guess what “View” you want. It can easily be changed from the Ribbon, and we will look at that very soon. For now, it is the same, it just looks different.
  2. The Location Bar. See that it now says “This PC > Documents > BackUp CDs”. This shows us that the “BackUp CDs” folder is inside the “Documents” folder.

Can you identify what is in  here? (Tip: In this “Details” view, the computer tells you what is going on!)


The yellow Items (“Addresses”, “Firefox”, “Games”, etc) are Folders, that contain files/folders. The other items are Files, and their Icon denoted what type of file.

If you do not recognise the Icon of a file, there are two other ways to see what it is.

  1. The “File Extension”. As you can see, files are named in a particular way: “FileName.Ext“, eg. COWS.TXT. This “Three-Letter Extension” denotes what type of file it is. “Cows” is a file of type: “txt” (which, as you may guess, is a “text” file). “mdplogo.gif” is a “gif” file, which is a type of picture. You do not need to know the in-and-outs of what file-formats are, but it is good to be able to recognise some of the common ones.
  2. The entry in the “Type” column! This is only visible in this “Details” view,  but lets you know something about the file.

Quick Aside

File types.

Text documents: .doc, .docx, .txt, .rtf, .odt

Picture files: .jpg, .gif, .png

Adobe Acrobat files: .pdf

We will look in more depth at these later, but for now, just know that different “extensions” mean different types of file.

Back to the Show!

I think it’s time for a break!

Go make a cup of tea, and rest your eyes.

When you get back, look for “Part two”, where we will take our knowledge of Files and Folders, and start to do something with it!

For Part Two, Click Here

Hello world!

I have given in to Social Media Pressures, and started a Blog!

Hopefully you will find some useful information here.

The tutorials here start from a very basic level, and will work slowly up to more advanced concepts, starting with “Where Have All My Files Gone?“, which explains the basics of the Windows Files Explorer.

I shall also be featuring some Fun Facts and Hidden Gems from the World of Computers! For instance, have you seen what happens if you search Google for “askew“?

So, have a browse around, see if you find something useful, and don’t forget to let me know what you find interesting, or what I have missed!

P.C. Wizard