File Management With Windows Explorer

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1 File Management With Windows Explorer Preamble: After you have created and saved numerous files using various programs, file management, the process of organizing and keeping track of all your files, can be a challenge. Fortunately, operating systems like Windows provide tools to keep everything organized so you can easily locate the files you need, move files to new locations, and delete files you no longer need. There are two main tools for managing your files: My Computer and Windows Explorer. In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn the ways you can use Windows Explorer to manage your files. Understanding File Management Windows gives you the ability to: 1) Create folders in which you can save your files Folders are areas on a floppy disk or hard disk in which you can store files. For example, you might create a folder for your documents and another folder for your graphic files. Folders can also contain additional folders, which creates a more complex structure of folders and files, called a file hierarchy. 2) Examine and organize the hierarchy of files and folders You can use Windows Explorer (or My Computer) to see the overall structure of your files and folders. By examining your file hierarchy, you can better organize the contents of your computer and adjust the hierarchy to meet your needs. 3) Copy, move, and rename files and folders If you decide that a file belongs in a different folder, you can move it to another folder. You can also rename a file if you decide a different name is more descriptive. If you want to keep a copy of a file in more than one folder, you can copy it to new folders.

2 4) Delete files and folders you no longer need Deleting files and folders you are sure you do not need frees up disk space and keeps your file hierarchy more organized. The Recycle Bin, a space on your computer s hard disk that stores deleted files, allows you to restore files you deleted by accident. To free up disk space, you should occasionally empty the Recycle Bin by deleting the files permanently from your hard drive. 5) Locate files quickly As you create more files and folders, you may forget where you placed a certain file or you may forget what name you used when you saved a file. With the Search utility, you can locate files by providing only partial names or other factors, such as the file type or the date the file was created or last modified. 6) Use shortcuts If a file or folder you use often is located several levels down in your file hierarchy (in a folder within a folder, within a folder), it might take you several steps to access it. To save time assessing the files and programs you use frequently, you can create shortcuts to them. A shortcut is a link that gives you quick access to a particular file, folder, or program. Introducing Windows Explorer As with My Computer, you can use Windows Explorer to copy, move, delete, and rename files and folders. That said, however, Windows Explorer is more powerful than My Computer: it allows you to see the overall structure of the contents of your computer or network while you work with individual files and folders within that structure. This means you can work with more than one computer, folder, or file at once. Windows Explorer consists of two areas called panes. The left pane, called the Explorer Bar, displays the drives and folders on your computer in a hierarchy. The right pane displays the contents of whatever drive or folder you select in the left pane. Each pane has its own set of scroll bars Page 2 of 7

3 so changing what you see on one pane does not affect the other. Windows Explorer also has a menu bar, toolbar, and address bar. Launching Windows Explorer Click the Start button, point to Programs, point to Accessories, click Windows Explorer, then click the Maximize button if the window does not already fill the full screen. Windows Explorer.lnk Note: Clicking the Explorer icon in the Quick Launch bar also works. Expanding/Collapsing Objects You can click the plus sign (+) or the minus sign (-) next to any item in the left pane to show or hide the different levels of the file hierarchy. A plus sign (+) next to a computer, drive, or folder indicates there are additional folders within that object. A minus sign (-) indicates that all Page 3 of 7

4 the folders of the next level of the hierarchy are shown. Clicking the (+) expands the next level; clicking the ( ) hides (or collapses ) them. Creating a New Folder Click on File in the menu bar, point to New, then click Folder. Windows will place a folder in the drive/folder selected in the Explorer Bar. By default, Windows names the folder New Folder. It is selected and ready for naming. Note: You can also create a new folder by right-clicking in the blank area of the right pane, clicking New, then clicking folder. Moving and Copying Objects You can move a file or folder from one location to another using a variety of methods in Windows Explorer. If the file or folder and the location to which you want to move it are both visible, you can simply drag the item from one location to the other. You could also use the Cut, Copy, and Paste commands on the Edit menu or the corresponding buttons on the toolbar. Finally, you can right-click the file or folder and choose the Send To command to send it to another location like a floppy. Note: Dragging an object to another spot on the same drive invokes the move operation. By contrast, dragging an object from one drive to another (example: floppy to hard disk) invokes the copy operation. Techniques for Selecting Multiple Objects Selecting Individual Objects Click the first object you want to select and, while holding down the [Ctrl] key, click on each additional object. Selecting a Range of Objects Click the first object you want to select, then press and hold down the [Shift] key as you click the last object in the list. Page 4 of 7

5 Selecting all Objects Click on Select All in the Edit menu. Alternatively, hold down the [Shift] key and press the letter A on the keyboard (shortcut). Renaming an Object Select the object. Right-click the mouse and click Rename in the pop-up menu. Key the new name and press [Enter]. You can also rename an object by pressing [F2] or using the Rename command on the File menu. Note: When renaming files, be careful not to change their extension (three letters after the dot). Changing extensions will break the program association and you will not be able to open the file by double-clicking it. Searching for Objects With so many drives and folders at your disposal, you may occasionally forget where you placed an object. Fortunately, a utility to search drives is included in the functionally of Windows Explorer. Even more important, Windows Explorer can search based on a wide range of criteria. To initiate a search, click the Search button in the Windows Explorer toolbar. When the search window appears, type as much of the object s name as you remember into the top textbox. The more information you provide, the more specific the search and the less likely Windows will find a match. Try to limit your filename to seven or less characters. Page 5 of 7

6 Windows Explorer also lets you specify where it should look. If you think you know where you saved the object, select its location in the Look In dropdown box. If you have no idea where you left the object, set the Look In box to My Computer before starting the search. Lastly, the Search Options section lets you search for objects based on their creation date, modification date, extension type, and file size. Other advanced options let you specify whether or not Windows Explorer should search subfolder or distinguish between uppercase and lowercase letters in the filename. You may apply search options together or separately. Deleting and Restoring Objects To save disk space and manage your files more effectively, you should delete (or remove) files you no longer need. Because files deleted from your hard drive are stored in the Recycle Bin until you remove them permanently by emptying the Recycle Bin, you can restore any files you might have deleted accidentally. However, if you delete a file from your floppy disk, network drive, or USB drive, it will not be stored in the Recycle Bin Windows will permanently delete it. Methods of Deleting a File: Method 1: Select the object, then click the toolbar s Delete button. Method 2: Select the object, then press the [Delete] key. Method 3: Right-click and select Delete in the pop-up menu. Method 4: Drag the file to the Recycle Bin. Methods of Restoring a File from the Recycle Bin: Method 1: Click the Undo button on the toolbar. Method 2: Select object in the Recycle Bin, click File, then Restore. Method 3: Right-click the file in the Recycle Bin and click Restore. Method 4: Drag the file from the Recycle Bin to another location. Note: If you are unable to delete a file, it might be because your Recycle Bin is full, or too small, or the properties have been changed so that files are not stored in the Recycle Bin but are deleted right away instead. Page 6 of 7

7 Customizing the Recycle Bin You can set your Recycle Bin according to how you like to delete and restore files. For example, if you do not want files to go to the Recycle Bin but rather want them to be immediately and permanently deleted, right-click the Recycle Bin, click Properties, the click the Do Not Move Files to the Recycle Bin checkbox. If you find that the Recycle Bin fills up too fast and you are not ready to delete the files permanently, you can increase the amount of disk space devoted to the Recycle Bin by moving the Maximum Size of Recycle Bin slider to the right. This, of course, reduces the amount of disk space you have available for other things. Working with Shortcuts When you frequently use a file, folder, or program located several levels down in the file hierarchy, you may want to create a shortcut. You can place the shortcut on the desktop, or in any other location, such as a folder, that you find convenient. To open the file, folder, or program using the shortcut, simply double-click the icon. Creating a shortcut is simple. In the right pane of Windows Explorer, right-click the object for which you need a shortcut. Click on Create Shortcut in the resulting pop-up menu and move the resulting shortcut to the desired location. Alternatively, you may also right-click an object and point to Send To in the pop-up menu, then select Desktop (Create Shortcut). Both methods net the same result. If you do not want your desktop to get cluttered with icons but you would still like easy access to certain files, programs, and folders, you can create a shortcut on the Start menu. Drag the file, program, or folder that you want to add to the Start menu from the Windows Explorer window to the start button. The object will appear on the first level. Note: Deleting a shortcut deletes on the link; it does not delete the original file or folder to which it points. Developed by the Technical Service Desk Last Revised on Friday, May 18, 2007 Page 7 of 7

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