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Jan's Working with Windows:

       Project 2: Files & Folders

Project Objectives

  • Know parts of the windows that show files and folders
  • Understand the folder tree
  • Arrange, sort, and group items in the window
  • Use removable media
  • Create a folder
  • Copy, move, rename, delete, and undelete files and folders
  • Open a file from the Contents Pane
  • Open an application using a shortcut or from the display of folders and files
  • Save a file with a proper and useful name
  • Understand 8.3 filenames
  • Use Open and Save As dialog boxes
  • Create a backup of a file
  • Use Print Preview
  • Print a document
  • Use Search to locate a file

In the Windows Basics lessons you learned how to get around the Windows interface, using the mouse, menus, and the keyboard. You opened some applications and managed their windows. You created a drawing (though it might not have qualified as ART!). But when you closed Paint, your drawing was lost. How sad!

Next you need to learn how to save your work and keep track of where all that saved work is. That requires an understanding of the rules Windows uses to manage files and the folders they are stored in.

Basic Terms


Each document, whether it is a plain text file Icon for text file or a letter in Word Word document or music Icon for mp3i file or the code to run a program Icon for program file, is called a file.


Files are grouped together in folders Open folder icon Icon: Folder (Vista), also called directories by folks who are used to certain other operating systems.

Disk or Drive:

Technically, a disk is an object on which you store your files and a drive is the device that reads from and writes to the storage media. Often these words are used as though they were the same thing. Some 'drives' are not discs at all, like flash drives.

Your files and folders are stored on your computer's hard disk Icon: Drive Icon: Drive C in folder tree (Vista) Icon: Boot drive (Win8), or an external drive Icon: Solid State Drive connected to your computer, or on a network drive Icon: Networkd drive Icon: Network drive, or on some kind of removable media like a floppy disk Icon: Floppy disk, a CD or DVD DVD drive Icon: DVD drive (Win8), a USB drive Icon: USB drive (Vista)Icon: Removable drive (Win8), or another kind of removable disk.

A large hard disk can be divided into several logical drives to make the space easier to work with and maintain. Older operating systems cannot handle drives larger than 2 GB unless they are divided up this way. These logical drives display as additional hard drives.

Drive Names: Drives are named with a letter plus a colon.

Computer with dual floppy drivesA:   Icon: Floppy disk The floppy drive is A: and a second floppy drive is B:. Yes, computers are still reserving letters for these ancient drive types. In the olden days, about 1982, our first computer was tops with dual 5¼" floppy drives!

C:    The hard drive or solid state drive that contains the operating system is C:. Logical drives and external drives get letters that follow C:.

D:    DVD drive Icon: DVD drive (Win8)Your CD or DVD drive uses the first letter after all of your hard drives, so it will be D: only if you have only one hard disk and it has no logical partitions.

Network drives Icon: Networkd drive Icon: Network driveare usually further down the alphabet. Many networks start the network drives at Z and go up the alphabet. A school I used to teach at assigned the name O: to the network drive where a user could store documents. When I logged onto a computer on the network, I could access that drive, no matter which computer I was using.

Removable drivesIcon: Removable drive (Win8)Icon: USB drive (Vista) like flash drives are assigned a letter when they are connected. Those letters can be reused by different devices as you plug in and remove various storage devices. You can assign a drive letter to your device so that it will always use that letter when it is attached to a computer. You must consider whether you will run into a computer that already has a drive with that letter name! More than just confusion can occur. Duplicate drive names are just not allowed, so you will not be able to view or use your files.

Warning: Drives may or may not show if empty
Some computers display a CD or DVD drive even when the drive is empty and some do not.
Computers with built-in slots for removable media (USB, Smart Media, SD, Memory Stick, etc) often show those drives even if they are empty. A printer that is connected to your computer may show as a drive if it has slots for media, even when those are empty. There is a setting in the Folder Options dialog on the View tab that lets you 'Hide empty drives in the Computer folder'. But it may not hide those media slots that are built in.


The drive and folders you must go through to get to the folder or file that you want form the path to the file. A path always starts with a drive letter.

The path C:\Windows\notepad.exe  leads to the file that starts Notepad.
The path C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer leads to the folder that holds Internet Explorer's program files.

Note that a path uses a back slash \ while a web address (a URL) uses a forward slash /.

Each program you have on your computer created a set of files and folders on your hard drive when it was installed, including Windows itself. You can create your own files and folders, too. The first task is to learn how these are arranged on your computer and how to view that arrangement. Then you can learn how to save your own files and create your own folders.