How to Organise Your Desktop

We know what our Desktop is,  and what all the parts of it do, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could personalise it? Just like you can arrange your desk at work, make room for the things you use most, add ornaments, and photographs of loved ones, you can do the same with your Computer Desktop!

The default Windows 10 Desktop has the blue “Windows 10” background, and Icons arranged in rows down the left-hand side.

We already know how to change the Background. Let’s have a look at what else we can do:

Rearranging Icons

Firstly, we want to make sure we are in the right “mode”. We can have Windows automatically arrange the Icons, or do it ourselves.

Desktop Menu
Desktop Menu

Right-Click a blank area of Desktop to get a Menu. If you hover the mouse over “View”, you will see the sub-menu (you can tell that it has a sub-menu from the “>” symbol!). Here you can choose the size of your icons (my advice is to try all three sizes, and go with the one you prefer. You can always change later). You also want to look at the Second section of this menu:

  • Auto arrange Icons – If you select this option, the icons will all line up down the left-hand side, and you will not be able to move them around. Leaving it “unchecked” (i.e. not having a ‘tick’ by the side of it) will allow you to arrange the Icons yourself.
  • Align Icons to grid – You will want this Checked, otherwise the icons will not line up neatly.
  • Show desktop Icons – If you UnCheck this, all of your Icons will disappear! They are not deleted, but you will not see them. Check it, to bring them back.

Now we can get on with arranging the Icons as we like.

As explained earlier, we can Drag’n’Drop the Icons around the desktop. Move them into groups of similar programs (e.g. Word, Excel and PowerPoint Office programs all together), or programs you use at the same time (Scanning programs, photo editors and email client, if you scan, edit and email a lot of pictures!).

Adding and removing Icons

If you do  not have an Icon on the Desktop for a program you would like, it can be added.

The main way of doing this is to find the program on the Start Menu, and Drag a Link to the Desktop:

  • The Start Button
    The Start Button

    Click the Start Button, and find your Program on the Start Menu.

  • Click-and-hold the mouse over the Menu Icon
  • While still holding the mouse button down, “Drag” the Icon to an area of Desktop.
  • You should see a “link” box appear. Release the mouse Button.
Dragging a Link from the Start Menu
Dragging a Link from the Start Menu

You now have a new Icon! You may move this around as you please!

Shortcut Arrow
A Shortcut

NOTE: When you drop your Icon into the Desktop, you should notice that it has a small Arrow in the corner. This denotes that  the Icon is not the actual Program, but a link to it. The Icon may be moved, deleted or altered without having any effect upon the Program!

Note 2: Do Not place Original files/programs on the desktop! The Desktop works best with shortcuts/links to the originals

Note 3: DO NOT keep your DATA on the Desktop! Data is best kept in your Main Folders (Documents, Pictures, etc). If you need easy access from the desktop, the next section shows how to create a Desktop Shortcut to your Data Folders!

Creating Shortcuts to Data Folders

Leaving Data on the Desktop can be a problem for several reasons:

  1. Some Backup methods are only set to back up data from your Documents and Pictures Folders. Any data on your Desktop may not be Backed Up!
  2. Your Computer has to work harder to keep track of all of the Files if they are on the Desktop. Being visible most of the time means the Computer has to keep inspecting them to ensure that the display is correct and up to date.
  3. Files are harder to find if they are not organised carefully. A little time spent creating folders in your Documents Folder (and placing shortcuts on the desktop if needed) will save a lot of time and effort later.
  4. The Desktop can only show so many items, whereas a Folder in File Explorer can be scrolled to show many more items.

The two main ways to create shortcuts to Folders are:

  • Right-Click on the folder you wish to Link. The Menu will have “Send to”. Hovering over this gives a sub-menu with “Desktop (Create Shortcut)”

    Send To Desktop
    Send To Desktop
  • Create Shortcut!
    Create Shortcut!

    Right-Click-Drag the folder to the desktop. You will need File Explorer “Restored”, i.e. not filling the whole screen, so that you can see some of your Desktop. Right-Click the Folder, and keeping the button held down, Drag it out of File Explorer, onto your Desktop. When you release the button, you will get a new Menu, where you can choose “Create Shortcut”.

These methods will create Shortcuts to your Folder on the Desktop, giving your quick and easy access to your Data, without cluttering your Desktop with too many data Files!

Renaming Icons

When a new Icon is created, they often have long names, including a note that they are a shortcut. As we are trying to reduce clutter, and we already know they are a shortcut by the Arrow on them, we are able to rename them.

Shortcut ready for renaming
Shortcut ready for renaming

Using the same tool mentioned in regards to Files and Folders, Icons can be renamed by selecting it and then either pressing the “F2” key on  your keyboard, or right-clicking it, and selecting “Rename” from the menu. This will highlight the Icon Name in blue, and you can type your new name here, pressing “Enter” (or “Return”) to finalise the renaming.

Removing Icons

To remove an Icon from the Desktop:

  1. Shortcut Arrow
    A Shortcut

    ENSURE THAT IT IS A SHORTCUT by looking for the Shortcut arrow!

  2. Click the Icon to Select it.
  3. Press the “Delete” key on your keyboard.

The Icon will disappear.

(It is moved to the Recycle Bin, so you have a chance to get it back, if you made a mistake!)

The End

You can now add, remove and rearrange the Icons on your Desktop, and know about ensuring that only Shortcuts are placed here.

We also learnt previously about taking Screenshots, so why not send me a picture of your Desktop, and let me know why you chose to arrange it like you have!

A Closer Look at the Home Ribbon

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

Open up File Explorer. Across the top of your window there should be a selection of buttons. This is the “Ribbon”. Selecting each of the “Titles” (Home, Share, View) will change which Buttons are available. This Article will be focusing on the “Home” Section. (“View” is explained in this article).

If you do not have the Ribbon showing, try clicking the “Show/Hide Ribbon” button at the top right of your window)

The Show/Hide Ribbon button
Show or Hide the Ribbon using this button!

Now, onto the Features:

Pin to Quick Access

This button is rarely used, but can be helpful if you use a particular Folder a lot. Select a Folder, and click here, to “Pin” that Folder to the Quick Access area of the Navigation Pane.

What does that mean? At the top of the Navigation Pane (left-hand section of File Explorer) is a Section containing links to your Main Folders (Documents, Pictures, etc), and you can add other Folders here, so that they always show up, giving you Quick Access to them!


These buttons will Cut or Copy the selected Item, or Paste the contents of the Clipboard into the current location. More detail of how this works can be found in my previous Article.

Two extra features are the “Copy Path” and “Paste Shortcut” buttons.

Copy Path

Instead of Copying the actual Item you have selected, this will copy the Location of it (as displayed in the Location Bar near the top of the window).

e.g. If I select my “CTRL-X Man” picture, and click “Copy Path”, I will enter the location to the clipboard, which I can then Paste into a Document:

“C:\Users\philw\Pictures\Blog Photos\CTRLXman.jpg”

(Notice that it uses the Full Path, starting from the Drive Letter (“C:” for my main Hard Drive), rather than the truncated version used in the Location Bar)

Paste Shortcut

The Shortcut Tag
The Shortcut Tag

Again, this deals with the Location of an item rather than the Item itself. Select an item and Copy it. Move to a new Location, and Paste Shortcut to create a Link to the original Item. This does not create a  new copy, and you should notice the “Shortcut” tag on the Icon, showing that it is a Pointer, or Shortcut to the actual Item.

Here we note that the Ribbons are organised into Sections. We have just dealt with the “Clipboard” Section, as titled below the Buttons. We now move to the “Organise” Section.


Move To/Copy To

In Windows 10, Microsoft have provided yet another way of moving/copying our Files around.

Select your Item(s), and click one of these buttons. You will be presented with a list of potential Locations to choose. If you cannot see the Location you wish to use, then look at the bottom of the list, where you will find “Choose Location …”. Clicking here will present you with a Mini-Explorer, which you can use to find the desired Location.


This will Delete the selected Item. Actually, it will move it into the Recycle Bin, where it will stay until that is Emptied. This does give you a chance to retrieve Items that are accidentally deleted.

NOTE: Deleting a Folder will delete all of the contents. Any Files and/or sub-folders inside the deleted Folder will also be deleted!


Folder ready for renaming
Blue Highlights

By selecting an Item, and then pressing this button, you can Rename either a File or Folder.

The item’s Name will gain a Border, and highlight in blue, indicating that it is ready for you to type the new Name.


The “New” section deals with adding new Items. As dealt with in my previous Article, there is a button for creating a New Folder.

There is also a Menu called “New Item”, which gives a list of Items you may wish to create e.g. Word Document, Bitmap (picture) file, spreadsheet etc. As this always creates a Blank version, I find it more useful to open the appropriate Program to create a new File.

The Easy Access menu is also one I would not recommend using just yet. Familiarise yourself with how the Explorer system works first.


The only useful button here is “Properties”. Select an Item, and click this, to open a new window that will display quite a  list of properties about it, including File Size, Date  Created, Modified, and Accessed, and other useful information.


  • “Select All” does what it says on the tin. It selects all items in the current location.
  • “Select None”. Ensures that no Items are selected.
  • “Invert Selection” can be occasionally useful. e.g. If I want to delete all Items apart from my CTRL-X-Man picture, I can Select CTRL-X-Man, and Invert Selection so that everything except that file are selected, and then click Delete!


Tool Tip
Tool Tip

You may have noticed that when you “hover” your mouse pointer over a button, a little box appears. These boxes are called “Tool Tips”, and give you Tips about the Tool you are thinking of using! They usually display the Name of the Button you are hovering over, the Keyboard Shortcut (if any), and a brief description of the Function. They can be very helpful for quickly looking along a Menu or Ribbon, to see what Tools are available!


So why not take another look at your Home Ribbon! You may find some features that you never knew were there!

Do you find the Ribbon Buttons easier than CTRL-keys, or right-clicking? Or are you a Keyboard Fan, and use the Mouse as little as possible? Does the F10 key get used?

Why not let people know what you prefer! Maybe you can win over some converts!

What a Drag, Man!

Drag-and-Drop explained

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.

Moving Windows

You can move a window around the screen by dragging its Top Bar. To try this:

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

    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).

Moving Files

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:

Drag and Drop
Drag and Drop
  • 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).

Moving Icons

Desktop Icon
Icons, grouped as I like them

On the Desktop, you can Drag you Icons around, organising them in groups of similar Programs.

Opening With Paint
Opening With Paint

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!

A Closer Look at the Navigation Pane

That is, the left-hand Menu, in File Explorer

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

If you remember our earlier Article, you will recall the sections of the File Explorer window. Here we will examine the left-hand menu, or “Navigation Pane”, to give it its proper title.

The "File Explorer" Icon
The “File Explorer” Icon
The Navigation Pane
The Navigation Pane

So, open your File Explorer, Maximise it (the “Squares” button at the top right) to fill the screen, and take a look at the Navigation Pane. If you do not have the left-hand menu, try clicking “Navigation Pane” on the View Ribbon, and ensuring the entry “Navigation Pane” is ticked!

Now, What you will see is a list of Folders and Locations. From this list, we can easily navigate to any area of our File Structure that we wish!

So, let’s have a look at what we have:

At the top will be “Quick Access”. This lists your Main Folders (Desktop, Documents, etc), plus your most recently accessed Folders. You can add or remove folders from this area, but for now, we can leave it as-is.

We then have One Drive, the Microsoft online Cloud Storage. This will be discussed elsewhere.

And then, “This PC”. Here, again, we have a list of the Main Folders, and then any Disk Drives attached to the computer. “C:” is your System Drive, and may be titled “OS” (for Operating System), or “Windows” (for that is the Operating System you are using), or some other label. You probably have a DVD Drive, which will be shown here (Mine is the H: Drive, and currently has “The Settlers IV” Game CD loaded). You may also have other drives, such as USB Flash Drives, or External Hard Drives.

Network and Homegroup are for if your PC is connected to other computers on your network.

So what can we do?

Sub-Folder Tags
Sub-Folder Tags

I’m glad you asked!

The main use is to navigate quickly from one location to another. Try clicking on “Pictures”. You should notice that the Main Window now displays your Pictures Folder, and the Navigation bar (above the Main Window) shows “This PC > Pictures”. Now Click on “Documents”. And “Pictures” again.

We can also explore sub-folders. Move your mouse over the “This PC” section, and you should see some “>” tags. These show you that the Folder has Folders inside (beneath) it. Clicking a tag will show you these subfolders!

My Music collection is not very extensive, but this shows the structure of my Collection. My Music includes some audio from the BBC (namely Dr Who episodes), some Heather Nova, and a whole bunch of sound effects!

The keen-eyed amongst you will have noticed that tags of folders that we can see inside (such as “Music”, and “bbc audio”, in this case) are pointing downwards, and also their contents is slightly indented.

That’s All Folks!

That is pretty much all there is to the Navigation Pane.

It is a useful tool for moving around your folders.

If you prefer to recover your screen real-estate, you can switch it off using the View Ribbon > Navigation Pane button!

Do you find it useful? Which folders do you use it to jump between? Let us know!

What are File-Types?

File Formats Explained in Simple Terms

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:

  • house.doc
  • house.jpg
  • house.xls
  • house.pdf

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.

Different File Format Icons
Different File Format Icons

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.

Icons of some Programs
Icons of some Programs

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?

Let me know!

Working with Multiple Programs

As mentioned before, the Windows Desktop (your main screen, when you first switch on your computer) is an analogy for your physical desk. And like your physical desk, you can have more than one item on it at a time!

You may have your diary (Calendar), a typewriter (Microsoft Word), a telephone (Facebook Messenger), and a pack of cards (Microsoft Solitaire Collection) all on the desk. You don’t pack them all away (Close Program) as you swap between them.

In Windows, there are several tools to help you organise your Desktop to keep track of the open Programs.

Firstly, we shall look at the “Minimise” and “Maximise”/”Restore” Buttons. At the top right-hand side of any open window there will be the the familiar “X”, used to close the window. Next to that are two other symbols.

Three Little Symbols
Three Little Symbols

As we know, the “X” is used to Close the window. The “Dash” is use to “Minimise” the window, and the “Squares” to “Maximise” or “Restore”. What do we mean by that?


When you “Minimise” a window, the program will stay open, but it is removed from the Screen, and tucked away (“Minimised”) onto the Task Bar. When a program is Open, it’s Icon will appear on the Task Bar, with a blue “underline”, as illustrated here:

Multiple Open Programs
Multiple Open Programs

You can re-view the program by clicking on it’s Task Bar Icon.

You can also Preview any Minimised programs by hovering over their Task Bar Icon:Previewing My Chrome Browser Previewing My Chrome Browser

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

Why not try this! You are currently using an Internet Browser (probably Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome). Go to the bottom of the screen (Task Bar) and click the File Explorer Icon. It will open an Explorer Window. Depending in how your PC is set, it may fill the screen (Maximised) or only take up a part of the screen (Restored).

Click the “Dash” in the top right of the Explorer Window, and it will disappear (hopefully with no puff of smoke!). You should see that its Icon has the blue “underline” to show that it is still Open. Click it to bring it back (Restore)!

Now try Minimising your Browser. Click the “Dash”.  BYE!

Hello again! Notice how this page is still open! If you had Closed your browser, and then re-opened it, you would have been presented with your Home Page. But by Minimising, and then Restoring, this page stayed open, as you did not Close the program!


Now let’s take a look at the “Squares” (“Maximise/Restore”) button. In the top right hand side of your window you will see the Three Little Buttons:  Dash, Squares and X.

If you click the Squares, it will change the window between Maximised (filling all of the Screen) and Restored (filling part of the Screen).

Re-Sizing Arrow
Re-Sizing Arrow

When the window is Restored, you can alter the size and shape of it. This is done by “grabbing” the edges and “dragging” them. Click your Squares until the Browser window is Restored, and then move your mouse to the edge, until you get a double-headed arrow Symbol. While you have this symbol visible, you can hold down your mouse button, and move the edge of the window! This works on the sides, and also on the top/bottom!

A 'Restored' File Explorer Window
A ‘Restored’ File Explorer Window

It can be a little tricky to grab the window just right, so practice this! You will find a size that works for you!

So we now know how to Minimises, Maximise and Restore, but how does this help with Multiple Programs?

Well, like your Physical Desk, you can work on two (or more) things at once! You can be typing a letter, while having your Diary open to check dates. You can be browsing the internet, and have a game of cards as well. Or you can read a Tutorial Blog while having a File Explorer Window open to try the techniques!

Moving between Programs

If we have two programs open, and wish to move between them (for example, a Tutorial Blog open in your Web Browser, and File Explorer to see/organise your files), we get our old friend “Tim Toady” to help us!

TIMTOWTDI: There Is More Than One Way To Do It!

From what we have just learnt, we can see (Teacher Talk for “I’m going to have to explain it, aren’t I?”) that you can Minimise one Program, and Maximise the other, using the Dash (top right), and the Blue-Underlined Icons on the Task Bar. Feel free to try this.

A short-cut is to skip the Minimising part, and just click the Task Bar Icons!

If we think of “Minimising” as “Pushing to the back of the Desk” (still open and active, but not in our direct Working Area i.e. not visible), and clicking the Task Bar Icon as “putting in our Direct Working Area, then skipping the Minimise is equivalent to having two Notebooks (one with Internet, one with File Explorer), and swapping which is on top. The other one is still open on the page you left it at.

So, now we can switch back and forth between open programs!

Another way , our friend Tim Toady tells us, is to have two windows both Restored, rather than Maximised.

Two Programs open!
Two Programs open!

Here we see my File Explorer (viewing my Documents Folder), and my Web Browser (viewing my “Edit Blog” page!).

You can re-size the windows by grabbing the edges and dragging them, and you can change their position by dragging (clicking, holding the mouse-button down while you move the mouse) the Top Bar of the window.

You can now click in each of the windows to “activate” it i.e. make it the Working Area. You can see that the above windows overlap, and if one is clicked, it “comes to the front”. Similar to the aforementioned notebooks, putting one on top of the other, so we can write in it.

NOTE: This “activating” of windows, and having one at the front, to work on is called “Focus”. To bring one to the front is to “Give it Focus”, and we can ask “Which window has Focus?”

So, as an exercise, (You may want to write down these steps, as we will be closing the web browser!), let us test our new multi-tasking skills!

  1. Close all of your programs, and return to the Desktop. (Check the Task Bar for Underlined Icons – these are still open! Make sure they are closed!)
  2. Open your Web Browser (usually Microsoft Edge, or Google Chrome), and navigate back to this blog ( ).
  3. Minimise your Web Browser.
  4. Open File Explorer, and Restore it, so that it only fills part of the screen.
  5. Maximise Web Browser (Click on its underlined Icon, where you Minimised it to), and then Restore it so that it does not fill the whole screen.
  6. In your Web Browser, navigate to the File Explorer posts, and try out some Cut/Copy/Paste exercises. You will have to move between Web Browser (to read the posts) and File Explorer (to move your Files).
  7. Let me know how you got on, using the Comment Form below!

Now try it with both windows Maximised, switching between them with the Icons on the Task Bar.

Find the ways that work for you! None of the options are better than others, just a different way of doing the same thing!

Do you prefer working with Restored windows, so you can see what is going on on in other parts of the screen, or is Maximised your preference?

It doesn’t have to be Browser and Explorer! You can have a photo, and an art program (such as Paint) to sketch a copy of the photo. Or read a book in an ebook reader, while taking notes in Notepad, or Word (or both! You are not limited to two programs!)

Back To Basics

In the Beginning Was The Desktop

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:

Windows Desktop
Your version probably does not have the red Text all over it!

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

The Start Button
The Start Button

Windows Button, or Flag).

Above the Start Button, from the top, we also have:

  • Account Details
  • File Explorer
  • Settings
  • Power

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.

Now What?

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.

Microsoft Edge Icon
Microsoft Edge Icon

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., or your email page).

A Web Page ( open in MS Edge
A Web Page ( open in MS Edge

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. TIP: You can usually leave out the https://www. part, and just type  or 

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:

  • Google (
  • Bing by Microsoft (
  • Yahoo (
  • DuckDuckGo Anonymous Search (

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?

The Inevitable Back-Up Post!

Data-Loss is Unforgivable

Make your backups
Be like this guy!

Over the years, I have seen so many people lose data.

Wedding photos, baby pictures, invoices, tax and payroll data, love letters, and schoolwork.

I lost all of my University work (luckily after I had finished!), along with quite a lot of notes and pictures I had made.

Never again! Not on my watch!

There are so many simple ways to back up your data, that I have started using the phrase “If it isn’t backed up, it isn’t important data“.

So, to avoid the Wizard’s wrath, what can you do?

Commercial Solutions

Norton backup, Apple iCloud, Google Drive, Micrososft OneDrive, PC World Knowhow Cloud. There are many.

Most are perfectly good enough, and this article is not a review of Cloud Services.

Local Storage

You have probably heard of USB Memory Sticks and External Hard Disk Drives.

These are Local, as they are in the same building as your PC (as opposed to across the street (Off-Site) or on some other side of the Internet (Remote).

They are connected to your PC via a USB plug. Sometimes with a cable, sometimes not. Windows doesn’t really care. It is on the USB Socket.

So, if you could nip and get one. It may be in your sock drawer, or under the sofa, or possibly still at the shop. Memory Sticks are  not expensive (~£20. 32 or 64GB), although the significantly-larger-capacity External hard Disks are a touch pricier (£50-£100 and more. 500GB+)

Go get one. I can wait. I have plenty of work to be doing.

Pac Man
New High Score!

Oh, hi. You’re back! OK, lets get this data backed up!

Doing the BackUp, Just Like We’ve Learnt

  1. Plug in your Storage Device (USB Stick or External Hard Disk)
  2. You may get a notification from Windows that you have done this. For my method, we ignore this.

    The "File Explorer" Icon
    The “File Explorer” Icon
  3. Open File Explorer, and check that your Device has been recognised. You should have an entry in the Navigation Pane. If you do  not see it, click on “This PC” to view all of your Drives. It may be labelled “USB Drive (E:)” or may have the manufacturer’s name.
  4. Once we are happy that we know where the drive is, we then need to Copy all of our Files to it.
  5. While you are in “This PC”, you should have a list of your Default Folders at the top of the page. Select Documents. Choose to Copy it (Note, we do not have the usual Ribbon here, so you will have to use right-click > Copy, or CTRL-C).
  6. Now that the Documents Folder is on the Clipboard, select your Storage device, and Paste (right-click > Paste, or CTRL-V).
  7. A Progress Window will appear to show how the Computer is getting along with Copying it. This will either be very brief, or quite a long time (My folder can take an hour or more, but it is HUGE! Yours is likely to be done in a minute or two). When done, the Window will disappear.
  8. Confirm that the Data has been Copied, by going into your Storage Device, checking that a Documents folder exists, and then looking inside that to see that your data is there.
  9. Go back to “This PC” and repeat for any other Folders you may wish. Usually this will include “Pictures”, and also Music and Videos, if you have anything in these folders.

    Safe Eject Icon
    Always Safe Eject!
  10. When this is finished, DO NOT UNPLUG YOUR DRIVE YET! Always use the Safe Eject command! Click on the Safe Eject icon, at the bottom right of the screen, by the Digital Clock (This is called the “Notification Area”, by the way). You will get a menu, and you can click on “Eject <name of your device>”. Once you get the Confirmation message, you may safely unplug your device.


Now, that looks like quite a task, but I shall summarise it briefly:

  1. Plug in Device
  2. Open File Explorer
  3. Navigate to “This PC”
  4. Confirm that device is detected.
  5. Select Documents folder. Copy/Paste to Device.
  6. Repeat for other Folders.
  7. Confirm Data transfer.
  8. Safe Eject device.
  9. Unplug Device

You may now put your device away somewhere safe and secure.

You are Backed Up!

For now …

Presumably, you will, at some point, take more photos, write more letters, save more interesting stuff from the internet etc.

Every now and then (the more often, the better), update your BackUp by following through the exact same procedure we have just done.

PLEASE let me know if you have any problems following this.

Or let me know what back up solutions you have used, for good or ill.


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!