Posts Page

A Closer Look at the View Ribbon

“But my screen doesn’t look like that!”

Everyone’s computer will be set a little differently, and with everyone having different Files and Folders, you can expect your screen to look slightly different from the examples given here, and from your friends’ and neighbours’ screens.

Firstly, as so wisely instructed by the late, great Douglas Adams:

Don’t Panic!

Look for the similarities, rather than the differences. You should have the main features available.

As we are focusing on Appearance, it would be well to be able to see the View Ribbon. Most PCs will have this set by default, but if not, there are two ways to show it.

  1. CTRL-F1. (We learnt previously about holding the Control key, and tapping another key. This Command uses the “Function One” key, labelled “F1”, the very top row of your keyboard).
  2. “Expand the Ribbon” button. As shown here, the small ‘arrow’ at the top right of your Window will show or hide the Ribbon.
The Show/Hide Ribbon button
Show or Hide the Ribbon using this button!

Now we can see our Ribbon, let us take a closer look at the Tools available on it.

Click on the “View” tab, to show the viewing tools.

The "View" tab
The “View” tab

Notice that the Ribbon is split into sections. Each section has its name beneath it. See from the above image that the “Panes” and “Layout” sections are visible. (You should also have other sections.)

Each section has a group of tools that perform similar functions. Let us take a look:


The File Explorer window is split into several sections, as we have seen. The Ribbon and Location Bar at the top, and below that, the Navigation Pane and the Main Section.

As you can see from the Ribbon, there are other “Panes” available. Click on each of them to view or hide them.

Navigation Pane

We have briefly looked at this. It provides shortcuts to move between different Folders. It will usually have your Default Folders (Documents, Pictures, Music, etc), and a set of “Recently used” Folders.

Preview Pane

When this Pane is visible, it will appear on the right-hand side of your screen.

If you select a File (by clicking once on it), the computer will attempt to show you a Preview of the File.

If you have the Layout set to “Medium Icons” or larger, then the Icons will also show this preview. The Preview Pane is more useful when you have Layout set to Details, or List.

Not all Files are capable of showing a Preview, and the Preview Pane will inform you if you have selected such a File.

Details pane

This Pane will appear instead of the Preview Pane, at the right of the screen.

When you select a File, this Pane will display some extra information about the File, including when it was last modified, how much space it takes up, and more, depending upon what type of file it is.

This information is similar to that shown when using the Details Layout, so is more useful if you are using the Icons Layouts.

All of these Panes may be Hidden, by clicking their Button on the Ribbon, if you prefer less “clutter” on your screen.

I very rarely show the Preview or Details Panes, but you may find them useful.


The Layout section
The Layout section

In this section, we can control how we view the Icons in the main section.

Hover over each of the choices, and the icons will show that style. They will revert back if you move away, or you can set them to the style you prefer by Clicking the style you like.

Large Icons” and “Extra-large Icons” can be useful if your folder contains a lot of Images, as you will be shown a Preview without having to open each file individually to see what it contains.

Details” will show you some extra information about each file.

List” is good for fitting a lot of Files and Folders on the screen at once.

Have a practice at changing between these styles, and choose one that you like.

Personally, I move between Large Icons and Details, depending on which Files I am working with, but you should use the style you are happiest with.

“Details” Style.
“List” style
Extra-Large Icons!
Extra-Large Icons!

Current View

The “Current View” tools can be used to change the order that your Files and Folders are displayed in.

Sort By

This tool, as its name suggests, will allow you to sort your Files in a variety of ways. Clicking the button will show a menu of options, including Date, Name, Type and more.

The "Sort By" Menu
The “Sort By” Menu

By Default, Items are arranged by Name, with Folders being shown first, and then Files. You can change this to arrange in other orders, and as you can see from the Menu, in Ascending or Descending order (so that you can have “Newest First”, or “Oldest First”, for example).

Group By

This tool allows us not just to order our Files, but to split them into groups, making it easier to differentiate between them.

The best way to explain this is to show you an example:

Files Grouped by Type
Files Grouped by Type

As you can see, all of the .pdf files are now together, and all of the .bmp files are next to each other, separated into “Groups”.

This, like Sort By, can be done by Name, Date, Type, etc.

This can  be a very useful tool if you are organising your files. e.g. You can Group By Date to put all photos taken on a certain date together, and Shift-Click them (remember how we hold SHIFT, click the first file we want, then keeping SHIFT held, click the last file, to select all of these files), to Cut and Paste into their own folder.

(The other tools on this section are not needed at the moment, and we shall not be discussing them)

Show/Hide section

These tools will alter the way some things are displayed.

Item Check Boxes

If this is switched on, then hovering over an item will reveal its Check Box. Clicking this box will Select that item.

This can be useful for selecting Multiple items, rather than CTRL- or SHIFT- clicking.

Some "Checked" items
Some “Checked” items

These items may then be Cut or Copied, as previously discussed.

File Name Extensions


File Name Extensions tell you what Type each file is.

For example, I have three files associated with a 3d modelling project, all with the same name! The previews are very similar.

With the Extensions viewable, I can easily see which is the Project File (.skp), which is the BackUp file (.skb), and which is a snapshot of the project (.jpg, an Image file).

Files, with Extensions showing!
Files, with Extensions showing!

Hidden Items

Some files are marked as “Hidden”. Usually these are System Files, that you would not want to change, move or delete. By making sure that this box is NOT ticked, you will not be able to see or affect these files.

There are circumstances where these files will want to be available, but I would recommend that you keep them Hidden.

Hide Selected Items

You can choose to mark Files as Hidden, and they will not be displayed unless you Tick the previously mentioned “Show Hidden Items” box.

I Strongly recommend that you do NOT do this.

There is very little reason, outside of System Diagnosis and Repair that you would want to do this.


A long, complicated list of Advanced Options.

Probably best to ignore.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

You can now adjust your Display to the way you like!

Have a try with some of the Layouts and Groups (notice the “Group By > None” option, to remove the groupings!)

Don’t worry if you get it wrong. These tools do not actually change any Data, just the way the items are shown to you. It can all be changed back easily.

Do you like List View, or Large Icons? Do you use the Preview Pane?

Why not let me know how you prefer your Screen Display.


A quick rundown of the terms we have used, along with some Commands

  • File – Where your Data resides. Similar to a piece of paper.
  • Folder – A Container for Files and sub-folders. Think of those manilla folders you find in offices.
  • Sub-Folders – Folders that are inside another folder.
  • Items – Files and/or Folders.
  • Ribbon – the bar at the top of the screen that contains your Tools.
  • Navigation Pane – the left-hand section of the Window.
  • Location Bar – section below the Ribbon that displays where in the folder structure you are.
  • File Explorer – the program that displays your files and folders.
  • Clipboard – a Temporary Storage Area use by the Computer when you Cut or Copy an item


  • Cut – to remove an item from its location and place it on the Clipboard.
  • Copy – to make a copy of an item onto the Clipboard.
  • Paste – to place whatever is on the Clipboard into the current location

Control Keys

(Hold the CTRL key, and tap the listed key)

  • CTRL-A – Select All
  • CTRL-X – Cut
  • CTRL-C – Copy
  • CTRL-V – Paste

File Types

Some of the more common File Types:

  • .bmp – “BitMap”. A Picture file
  • .doc, .docx – “Document”. Microsoft Word file. Usually containing text.
  • .gif – Picture File. Sometimes animated.
  • .jpg – picture File. The usual format for photographs.
  • .pdf – “Portable Document Format”. Used by Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • .rtf – “Rich Text Format”. More advanced than .txt, but more limited than .doc/.docx
  • .txt – “Text”. Very simple text files.
  • .xls – Spreadsheet. Used for performing calculations.


All Together Now! (Part Four)

Moving Multiple Files At Once

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).

Cut Copy Paste
Cut Copy Paste


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:

Pictures Folder
Pictures Folder

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:

Selfies of Me!
Selfies of Me!

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

Select All
Select All

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.

Continuous Files

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!

Selecting all of my Fashion Pictures!
Selecting all of my Fashion Pictures!

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!)

Green Cross Code man
I won’t be there when you Cut/Copy/Paste – CTRL-X Man!

As I am always telling my customers, the “Best” way to do it is the way that YOU are 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!

I Like To Move It, Move It! (Part Three)

Files, that is.

Organise, Organise, Organise!

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

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

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!

My Pictures Folder
My Pictures Folder

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.

Folder ready for renaming
Blue Highlights

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)

Selfies Folder
Selfies Folder

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”)
Control Key option
Control Key option

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!

Cut, Copy and Paste
Cut, Copy and Paste

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:

Moving More Than One File At Once …

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”, “”), 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