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Jan's Working with Windows:

    Files: Text - Create & Save

To work with files you must first have some! Playing around with files already on the hard disk might get us all in trouble. So you will first create some files. Then you can play with them!

You learned to open an application from the Start menu or (Win8) Start screen in Windows Basics. In this section you will learn another method.


The application Notepad is a plain text editor. This means that you can create documents that contain only text - no graphics. It also means that you can't get fancy. No tables, frames, or other fancy features. So why bother??

Notepad (WinXP) Notepad with sample document (Win8)

Notepad: WinXP and Vista, Win7, Win8/Win8.1

Every word processor out there can read such a plain text document, when they don't read each other's file formats well at all! What Notepad creates is just fine for writing simple memos, lists, or quick notes and is widely used for writing programming code. So Notepad is well worth meeting.

Notepad opens with a new blank document ready for your typing. Many applications behave this way. Others offer you the option first of opening an existing document or picking a template for a new document.

The cursor is the shape that shows where the text you type will go. Different programs use somewhat different shapes. A vertical bar of some type is the most common. Do you see the cursor in the images of Notepad? It is the vertical bar at the end of the typing.

Icon: WarningUndo in Notepad: You can only undo the last action in Notepad. Clicking somewhere can be an action!

Reminders of how a keyboard works:

  • To type a capital letter like R or the symbol at the top of a key like $ or #, hold the SHIFT key Key: Shift down while you press the key you want.
  • To move the cursor down to create a new line, press the ENTER key Key: Enter when the cursor is at the end of the line.
  • Use the DELETE key Key: Delete to erase the character to the right of the cursor.
  • Use the BACKSPACE key Key: Backspace to erase the character to the left of the cursor.
  • To erase several characters or lines, select the text you want to erase by dragging over it. The text is now highlighted with a background color and reverse color for the selected text. Press the DELETE key Key: Delete.

Icon Step-by-Step 

Step-by-Step: Text - Create & Save

 Icon Step-by-Step

What you will learn: to open an application from Computer/File Explorer
to create a new document
to save a document
to close an application

Start with:  Desktop  Icon: Class disk

Start a Program from Computer/Explorer

To use this method to open an application, you need to know:
      a. the name of the file that starts the application
      b. what folder the file is in

  1. Open a Computer or File Explorer window that shows the contents of the computer.
    (Hint: Double click the My Computer/Computer icon on the Desktop.)
  2. If necessary, expand drive C and scroll down to the folder Windows.
  3. Select the folder Windows to show its contents in the right pane.
  4. In the right pane, scroll until you see the file notepad.exe.

    Explorer showing notepad.exe (WinXP)Computer window showing notepad.exe (Vista) Explorer view - Windows folder (Vista)File Explorer: notepad.exe (Win8)

    WinXP,Vista, Win7, Win8/Win8.1

    Dialog: Folder Options > View tab > Hide extensions for known file types (Win8)Icon: ProblemProblem: Filenames do not show the extensions
    Most installations of Windows do not show the file name extensions by default. Anyone who works with many types of documents will understand why hiding the extension is a bad idea!

    Solution: Open Folder Options, in a Computer or File Explorer window and change a setting:

    Icon: WinXP WinXP: Open the Tools menu and select Folder Options. Click on the View tab. Uncheck the box for 'Hide extensions for known file types'. Click on OK and your change will be applied.

    Icon: Windows VistaIcon: Win7Vista/Win7: Click the Organize button, and then Folder and Search Options. Click the View tab. Uncheck the box for 'Hide extensions for known file types'. Click on OK and your change will be applied.

    Ribbon: View > Show/Hide tab group > check box for File name extensions (Win8)Icon: Win8 Win8: On the View ribbon tab, click the button Options and then on the View tab. Check the box 'File name extensions' to show the extensions.

  5. Double Click Double-click on notepad.exe to start the program.
    Notepad opens with a blank document ready for your typing.

Create a Document

  1. Notepad documentType the first line:
     This is a sample document. 

  2. Press the ENTER key to get a new line.
  3. Type the second line:
       I wrote it in Notepad. 
  4. Press the ENTER key twice to get a blank line.
  5. Type your name.
  6. Press the ENTER key to get a new line.
  7. Select from the menu bar  Edit  >  Time\Date  to insert the current time and date.
  8. Press the ENTER key to get a new line.
  9. Type the name of the course you are taking that these lessons are part of.

Save a Document

  1. Icon: Class disk Insert the Class disk into the drive or USB port, if it is not already there.
  2. Select from the menu bar  File  >  Save .

    Since this document has not been saved before, you will see the Save As dialog box. For most applications the Save In text box shows the folder last used to save something, even if it was by a different program. Others programs have a default folder for saving files.

  3. Inspect this window and its menus.
    Icon: WinXP In  WinXP you can click on Button: Dialog Help the Help button in the title bar of this dialog box and then click on each part of the window in turn to see what it is for. This helpful feature was dropped in later versions for some reason.
  4. Navigate to the folder you want to save in:
    Icon: WinXPWinXP
    1. Dialog: Save As with drive A selected in drop list (WinXP)Left click Click on the down arrow for the text box Save in: to display a simplified folder tree.


      TipManage files & folders in dialog: While in an Open or Save As dialog box, you can do most of the tasks that you learned to do in My Computer and Explorer, like rename, move, copy, delete. Popup menus are available, too. You can even create a new folder using the New Folder button  Button: New Folder (WinXP) on the toolbar.

      Warning Some applications are not entirely happy with doing these things inside a dialog box. They may lock up or crash. So test your applications before you try to manage files within a dialog box. You wouldn't want crash the program before you actually saved your work!

    2. Left click Click on the icon for the drive for your removable media, in the drop list.
      The dialog box changes to show the contents of the Class disk, including the folders that you created in the previous lessons.

      Icon: Trouble Problem: Flash drive did not show in drop list
      Sometimes the list does not show a removable drive until you have used it.
      Solution: Select My Computer in the drop list. The drives will show in the pane below. Double-click your flash drive from there to show its contents

     Icon: Windows VistaIcon: Win7 Icon: Win8 Vista, Win7, Win8: The Save dialog opens with a folder tree and contents pane which show the last folder to which you saved a file.

    1. If necessary, in the folder tree, scroll to see your Class disk and then Left click click its name.
      It's contents display at the right.
  5. Dialog: Save As - saving doc 1.txt (Win8)Double Click Double-click on the folder my docs and then Double Click double-click on win project2.
  6. At the bottom of the dialog, in the text box File name: type  doc 1  .
    Yes, there is a space in this name!
  7. Left click  Click on the down arrow in the text box Save as type: to see what your choices are. There are not many for Notepad, but other programs may have a long list of file types to choose from.
  8. Select the type Text Documents.
  9. Icon: Class disk Left click Click on the Save button.
    The file is saved.
    The complete path looks something like:
      e:\my docs\win project2\doc 1.txt , where the letter for your drive may be different. It depends on what kind of removable media you are using and how many USB devices are connected to your computer.

    Remember - spaces are important in a path, too!

    Notepad documentThe title bar of Notepad changes to include the new name, with a txt extension automatically added. Most applications have a default extension to add to a filename if you don't type it in yourself.

    To see what extensions an application uses on its saved files, click on the down arrow in the 'Save as type' box. In an Open dialog box, on the other hand, this list will show what extensions the program can open. But it may not be able to save in those types. For example, Microsoft Word can open Lotus Word Pro documents (extension lwp) but cannot save in that format. It's a one-way translation.

Close Application

  1. Left click Click the Close button Button: Close (WinXP) Button: Close (Vista) Button: Close (Win8) on the Title bar.
    Notepad closes.

If you made changes to your document since the last time you saved it, a dialog will appear that asks if you want to save the document. Only you know if you need to save those changes.