One tool we haven’t touched on yet in these articles is “Drag and Drop”. Or any of the uses of “dragging”. So, here we go:
“Dragging” is to place the mouse-pointer over something, hold down the button, and then move the pointer. Release the mouse button to “Drop”.
There are several uses for this, and we shall be looking at a few of the more common ones.
You can move a window around the screen by dragging its Top Bar. To try this:
Open a File Explorer window.
Make sure it is “Restored”, rather than “Maximised” (Click the “Squares” button in the top right, until it does not fill the whole screen).
Now, place the mouse pointer somewhere near the top of the window, in the middle. You will want to be just a couple of millimetres from the top of the window.
Hold down the left mouse-button.
Keeping the mouse-button held down, move the mouse around the screen (Drag).
You should see the window Follow your mouse, as you Drag it around!
Let go of the Mouse Button (Drop). The window will now stay where you leave it!
Try dragging a window to the edge, or top of the screen! Notice how it does something slightly different? Dragging windows to the sides will resize them to exactly half of the screen, leaving room for another window in the other half. Dragging to the top will “Maximise” the window, filling the whole screen, just as if you had pressed the “Squares” button (top right).
While we have File Explorer open, lets see what we can do with Files.
Go into your Documents folder. Hopefully you have a file or two in here. Choose one to run this exercise with.
Hover the mouse pointer over the file. Hold down the left button, and then move the mouse. You should see the file, or a “Shadow” of it, follow your pointer.
For now, move back to where you began, and release the button (drop), while we look at what we can do with a Dragged file:
If you have a sub-folder in your Documents Folder, you can drag files into them by dragging them ‘over’ the sub-folder, and dropping them. This is useful for organising files. If you have several related files, you can create a New Folder, and drag all of the files into it.
You should see the “Tool Tip” appear, alerting you to what action will be taken when you Drop. Here, we see it will “Move to House Files” (the sub-folder).
You can also Drag onto the Navigation Pane. Maybe you saved a photo into Documents, but realise that you would like it in Pictures. Drag and Drop it there!
If you have more than one File Explorer window open, you can drag files from one window to another. This can either be done with “Restored” windows (partly filling the screen), or “Half-windows” (by dragging to the edge of the screen, as noted above).
On the Desktop, you can Drag you Icons around, organising them in groups of similar Programs.
You can also drag a data-file (such as a photo, or text document) over the Icon for a program, and Drop it on that Icon, to open the file using that program. This can be useful if you have more than one program (e.g. I can edit photos using Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, or Paint).
So There We Have It
Several uses for Drag and Drop.
If you find Dragging difficult, you can practice by using the Microsoft Solitaire Collection to play some card games, as these require you to Drag cards around to play the games! You may think you are wasting time, but you are actually learning!
Now you can arrange your desktop, and organise you files!
Let me know what you find Drag and Drop useful for!
Computers (and the people who program them) try to be very efficient. So when dealing with the myriad types of data that are needed to be stored, they find different ways to store different data.
Photo Files need a lot of information about exact colours, and the exact location of each pixel. “Writing” documents (such as you might make in Word) record which letters are Capitals, and where the paragraphs are. Spreadsheets have mathematical calculations (often just adding a list of numbers!).
So, the different types of Files are stored in particular Formats (or “types”).
You have probably come across files such as Letter.doc, MyPhoto.jpg, MailAttachment.pdf etc.
The bit after the dot (doc, jpg etc) is called the “File Extension”, and signifies what type of File it is (or more correctly, what Format the file uses to store its data).
So what do they do?
If you are selling your house, you may write a description of it, for the Estate Agent. And they’ll want a photo. You may keep a spreadsheet of the finances involved. You could easily end up with a list of files like this:
Which one is which? Well, from our Summary article, we can look up some of the more common File Formats.
Also, Windows will have a program associated with each File Format, and in File Explorer, each file will be displayed with an Icon of that program.
Note: Windows File Explorer will often show Picture Files as Previews of that picture, as we can see here.
We can easily see that each File has a different Format, by its Icon. That Icon will match the Icon of the associated program.
When you open a File, Windows will check what Format it is, and find the associated program to use. e.g. my system has .doc files associated with “Libre Office Writer” (notice the similar blue icons). You may have “Microsoft Office Word”. The program will open, and display the file.
The programs, such as Word, do not store your files! They can Save your files into the Windows File System (“Documents Folder”, etc), but you do not have Files “in Word”. You have “Word Files” in “Folders”.
File Formats are used by the computer to store data in an efficient manner, and for both you and the computer to tell what “type” a file is.
They determine what program will be used to Open the File (along with its associated Icon).
There are many, many Formats. Some are quite common (.doc, .jpg, .mp3), while others specific to particular Programs (e.g. .skp Files for storing 3-dimensional information in SketchUp 3D Designer).
Have you seen any rare file types? Do you use custom software with its own special Formats? How do your Icons differ from those presented in this article?
Congratulations on your purchase of a shiny new Windows 10 Computer!
You have carefully taken it from its box, stripped off all of the protective layers, and placed it carefully upon your table.
Extension cables have been sourced, with multi-plug power-strips.
Numerous plugs are checked and connected. The monitor is adjusted to the perfect height and viewing-angle.
A nervous hand reaches out, finger poised by the Main Power Button …
Let There Be Windows!
What seems like a lifetime later, the computer is finally ready to use, and probably gives a display something like this:
Whether you are new to computers, or have upgraded from a previous version of Windows, it is probably worthwhile having a quick review of what we can see here.
The main area is called The Desktop, an analogy for a desk, as seen in many a 20th-Century office. This is your route to your Tools, Documents, Programs (and Apps!), and generally where you work.
On the Desktop will be a number of small images. These area called Icons, and are usually links to Programs (or Apps!).
The large section to the bottom left is the “Start Menu“, which can be viewed/hidden using the Start Button (sometimes called the
Windows Button, or Flag).
Above the Start Button, from the top, we also have:
We will discuss the others later, but it may interest you to know that the Power button is where you click to switch the computer off.
Across the base of the screen is a black bar. This is known as the Task Bar, and contains a selection of Icons to launch Programs, along with links to Programs that are already running (if any).
To the very right-hand side of the task Bar is the Notification Area. This contains links to certain System Processes and Background Activities, along with a Digital Clock and at the very end, the Notifications Icon.
So now that we know what all of these things are called, what do we do with them?
Well, it depends what you want to do!
I know that sounds like a bit of a non-answer, but you can do so much with a modern PC that it is difficult to know where to start …
OK, you’ll want to access the Information Superhighway. Getting there is easy.
See that blue “e” at the bottom of the screen (the Icon on the Task Bar), that is Microsoft Edge, an Internet Browser. You may have heard of Internet Explorer, well this is the replacement. Click there, and you will open Edge.
It will probably default to viewing the MSN webpage. This is a perfectly good page, but can be altered if you prefer to begin your browsing elsewhere (e.g. www.google.com, or your email page).
As you can see, there are several distinct areas here.
Everything above the red dotted line is “Browser Tools”.
Everything under it is the Web Page.
Firstly, we have the Address Bar, where you can type the address (the “htttp”,” www”, “.com” bit)of a webpage you wish to visit.
The Settings button will bring up a menu of different Tools.
“Tabs“, are where we can have multiple pages open, and choose which one we are viewing.
We’ll stick with just getting to the page you want, and leave Settings and Tabs for later.
If you know the address of the Web page you require, you click in the Address bar (You can press the F6 key at the top middle of your keyboard), delete anything that is there, and type the address. (e.g. https://www.google.co.uk). TIP: You can usually leave out the https://www. part, and just type google.co.uk or pcwizarduk.com
Press ENTER and the Browser will look for the page, and display it to you!
If you do not know the exact address, you will need to go to a Search Engine page! Notable Search Engines include:
On the Search Engine page will be a Search Bar. Enter your search terms here. e.g. “Car Hire”, or “Where can I sell my gold”, or “My PC is broken, is there a PC Wizard near me”. Press the Search Button (sometimes a Magnifying Glass, and a list of results will be displayed.
So, that should give you something to play with for a while!
Remember: Be careful on the internet!
What were your first stumbling-blocks with your new PC? Did you get any instructions, or take a course? What was the best advice you received?
In my previous Articles, we learnt how to View and Move Files.
We have mastered the View Ribbon, and gained familiarity with the Cut/Copy/Paste commands (using either the Ribbon, the right-click menu, or the CTRL keys).
The first way of moving Multiple Files is to move the Folder they are in.
If the Files you wish to move are all in one folder, you can Cut (or Copy) that Folder (the same as you would a File), move to the desired location, and Paste it there.
For example we may have a Pictures folder that looks a little like this:
And we realise that “Selfies” are all “Photos of Me”, and would like to move them all.
As before, when working with Files, we can select the Selfies folder (single click to highlight it) and then choose “Cut”.
Remember that we can Cut using one of the three methods:
Click “Cut” on the Home Ribbon
Right-Click the File and left-click “Cut” on the Menu that appears
Hold the “CTRL” (for “Control”) key on the bottom left of your keyboard and tap the “X” key. (This is usually written as “CTRL-X”. We remember “X = Cut” as it looks a little bit like a pair of scissors!)
Now that the Selfies folder is on the Clipboard (this is the special area of Computer Memory where Cut/Copy items are held), we can go to the desired location (“Photos of Me”) and Paste it in using one of our methods:
Click “Paste” on the Home Ribbon
Right-Click an area in the folder and left-click “Paste” on the Menu that appears
Hold the “CTRL” (for “Control”) key on the bottom left of your keyboard and tap the “V” key. (This is usually written as “CTRL-V”)
Our structure should now look like this:
Tip: When pasting into Folders, we can save a little time and a few clicks. Rather than go into the destination Folder, and Paste, we can Paste directly onto the Folder Icon. This takes a little practice, but can be worth learning.
Select the item (File or Folder) to move. Use the Cut function.
Select the Destination Folder, but only single-click, to highlight it. Now Paste (using any of the three Methods. If right-clicking, make sure to right-click ON the destination folder).
Selecting Multiple Objects
We will not always have our files nicely organised in Folders like this (hence the need to learn how to organise them!)
There are several ways to select a Set of files. Once we have Selected them, we can Cut/Copy, and then Paste, as before.
All the Files
If you wish to Select All of the files in a folder, you use the Select All Command. And again, TIMTOWTDI! Remember our friend Tim Toady? There Is More Than One Way To Do It! You may start to see a pattern to the different methods:
Click the “Select All” button on the Home Ribbon
Hold the CTRL key, and tap A (For “All”).
You should notice that all Items (Files and Folders) become Selected. You may now Cut or Copy them, before moving to the Destination Folder to Paste.
If the Items you wish to move are all together in the list (e.g. photos that were all taken on the same date, or files that begin with the same letter), then they can be Selected as a Set.
Use the View Ribbon > “Sort By” to arrange the items.
Click on the first item that you want from the List, to highlight it.
Hold Down the SHIFT Key on your keyboard. (This may have an Upward Pointing Arrow on it).
While still holding down Shift, click the last item that you require from the list.
Release the Shift Key.
You should notice that all of the required Items are now highlighted!
Now that the required Items are highlighted, you can Cut or Copy them, find the Destination, and Paste them.
All Over The Place
If you want to select a few items, that are not together in the list, then you can Control-Click!
What do we mean by that?
Holding down the CTRL Key, click on each of the Items. When you have them all, release the CTRL key.
This can take a while to master, but is worth knowing.
TIP: You can CTRL-Click after using Select All, or Shift-Click! For example, if I only wanted the Fashion pictures with Single people in, I could Shift-Click (reminder: Hold SHIFT, click the first one. Continuing to hold SHIFT, click the last one, then release SHIFT). Now that they are highlighted, you can CTRL-Click (hold down CTRL, click on item, then release CTRL) to de-select the picture with a Couple in it!
I suggest you practice some of this. Select multiple Items, and try cut/copy/pasting them around. Re-read these articles, and try to become familiar with the different methods, to see which you prefer.
None of the methods are better than the others. Remember, Tim Toady! (There Is More Than One Way To Do It!)
As I am always telling my customers, the “Best” way to do it is the way that YOUare happiest with!
If you like The Ribbon, use it. Or if you prefer CTRL-X/C/V, use those. Right-clicking more your thing? Go for it!
I think that will do for now!
And remember: Practice, Practice, Practice!
If you are still struggling, leave a Comment, and I shall endeavour to find you a solution!
Now that we have learnt how to see our Files and Folders, we need to do something with them.
This Article does not concern itself with the contents of your Files and Folders, merely where they are, how to find them, and in this section, how to move them around.
When I started learning about computers, back in the days when mobile phones were so big that we had to carry them around on Stegosaurus, I didn’t understand why we needed to Organise our Files into Folders. “There are not that many files! I can remember them all!”
Ah, the naivety of youth!
Modern digital cameras can take hundreds, if not thousands, of photographs per day. If we just put all of these in our Pictures Folder, we would have a hard time finding the ones we wanted, even with the Viewing Tools we have just learnt!
Let us take a look at how we can organise them!
A Fistful of Files
Open your File Explorer, and move to to your Pictures Folder.
If your Folder is anything like mine, you will have a long list of files, of all varieties, scattered across the screen!
If you click on this image of my Pictures folder, you will be able to see that I have many, many Pictures, of various types. I have “selfies”, snaps of Xmas presents, silly jokes, some notes for my 3d design work, and more! All piled together in one place!It is like having a shoe-box, with all of my photographs just thrown in! This will not do!
We need to decide how to Organise our Files.
NOTE: I will be introducing several new concepts here, and they may be slightly different than methods you already know. The important thing to remember is T.I.M.T.O.W.T.D.I! Pronounced “Tim Toady”, this is an acronym for “There Is More Than One Way To Do It”. This originated in a branch of Computer Programming, but applies to a lot of Computer Skills.
If we look at our files, we can hopefully find some that are related. In my Folder, I can have several “selfies”. Pictures that I took of myself. We shall put these together in their own Folder!
On the Home Ribbon, there is the New Folder button. This will, as the name suggests, create a New Folder! This New Folder will have the default Name of “New Folder”, but we shall rename it.
When the New Folder is first created, its title will be highlighted in blue. This indicates that you can type a new name for it. I shall call mine “Selfies”, and press “Enter” to finalise the Renaming.. If you have clicked away (for example to take another look at this Article, and the Name is no longer highlighted, do not worry! Click on the Folder and then press the “Rename” Button on the Home Ribbon)
Now we can start putting the Files in the Folder! If we Sort By Date (View Ribbon > Sort By > Date), the New Folder (no matter its new name) should be at the top of our list of Files and Folders. Find the first File you would like to put in this Folder, and click it once, to highlight it.
TIMTOWTDI! You can either:
Click “Copy” on the Home Ribbon
Right-Click the File and left-click “Copy” on the Menu that appears
Hold the “CTRL” (for “Control”) key on the bottom left of your keyboard and tap the “C” key. (This is usually written as “CTRL-C”)
I shall mainly be referring to the Ribbon, but you may use any of these methods. They are all exactly the same. In fact, if you hover your mouse over the “Copy” button on the Ribbon, it will show a Tool-Tip (little pop-up box) that tells you the Control Key for this function!
Important! What we have done by selecting “Copy” is to tell the computer that we would like to Copy the File. We have NOT actually done anything with the File yet! The Computer has made a Copy of the File into it’s Short-Term Memory (called the “Clipboard”).
Now, we tell the Computer what to do with the Clipboard. Go into your Selfies Folder, and similar to Copy, we now “Paste”:
Click “Paste” on the Home Ribbon
Right-Click a blank area in the Destination Folder and left-click “Paste” on the Menu that appears
Hold the “CTRL” (for “Control”) key on the bottom left of your keyboard and tap the “V” key. (This is usually written as “CTRL-V”)
You should see the File that you “Copied” appear in your Folder.
ASIDE: Why CTRL-V? Because it is right next to C (for Copy)! As you grow in experience and familiarity, you will be able hold the CTRL key with your little finger, and tap C to Copy, then move to the desired location, and CTRL-V (“Paste”) the File. Having these functions next to each other on the keyboard is easier then having to move your hand around too much!
Now we return to the Pictures Folder (You can use the Back or Up arrows on the Location bar, or the Navigation Pane. TIMTOWTDI!). You will see that your original File is still there! Didn’t we just put it on the Selfies Folder? No, we put a Copy there!
If we wish to Move the File, then we use Cut (CTRL-X) rather than Copy, and then Paste.
I shall explain that in detail:
Copy: (Home > Ribbon > Copy, or CTRL-C, or right-click “Copy”). Makes a Copy onto the Clipboard. Leaves the original File intact.
Cut: (Home > Ribbon > Cut, or CTRL-X, or right-click “Cut”). Makes a Copy onto the Clipboard. When you activate the Clipboard (to Paste), deletes the original File.
Paste:(Home > Ribbon Paste, or CTRL-V, or right-click “Paste”). Places whatever is on the Clipboard into the current location.
You can now Organise your other Files, using these tools!
Practice moving between your Folders, and Copying and Pasting Files around. Also Cut some, and Paste them into a new Folder. Create New Folders, rename them, and put some files in them (using Cut/Copy/Paste!).
When you are confident that you can move a File from one folder to another (either leaving the original where it was, or removing it), we can continue to our next Article:
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.
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.
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?)
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:
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.
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!
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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:
Two things to notice:
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.
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.
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.
The entry in the “Type” column! This is only visible in this “Details” view, but lets you know something about the file.
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!