Your Electronic Filing Cabinet

By: Doran Roggio

In a filing cabinet paper documents are stored in file folders; each given individual names. Information is grouped by subject and all the data dealing with a particular subject is placed in the same file folder and then placed in the filing cabinet. These folders are then arranged in numerical or chronological order, ensuring information is easily accessible.

Organizing and labeling files in this manner can be applied to your electronic documents. Information is stored in individual data files. Each document or data file has an assigned name. Data files containing similar information can then be grouped together in electronic file folders, and no two files in the same folder can have the same name. Each folder is then assigned its own label. The computer's filing cabinet is its hard drive and floppy disks.

Windows Explorer is the file manager that allows you to view and maintain your computer's filing system and keep it current. Using Explorer, you can copy, move, delete, and rename files. You can create new folders and subfolders to contain your growing data.

The main window of the Windows Explorer is divided into two display areas. On the left-hand side is the ALL FOLDERS pane which displays all of the main directories and folders stored on your computer. The right side or CONTENTS displays the contents of your selected drives or folders.

You can use Windows Explorer to view the contents of your harddisk. Load Windows Explorer by clicking on START, go to PROGRAMS and then Click Windows Explorer. In the left pane, click the letter that indicates your hard disk; usually this is a represented by a (C:) The contents of your hard disk (drive) appear in the right pane.

Folders can contain both files and more folders. Some of these are associated with specific programs. These are the program files placed on your system when you install a new software program. Other folders can be set up by the user, these files are called data files and can be stored in organized, logical areas. To display the contents of any folder, click the folder in the Directory Tree (left) pane so that it opens. Contents willbe displayed in the right pane.

Files are normally arranged alphabetically. You can also arrange files by type, date, or size. Click the View menu, and then select Arrange Icons. A submenu comes up from which you can choose different arrangement options. This feature can be useful in finding files, when the name is not clear.

A paper filing system is maintained on a regular basis as business changes and grows, so should you regularly maintain your computer's filing system. You will want to discard documents as they become out of date. You will find the need to move folders and/or documents to another location. You may even want to rename a file. Windows Explorer provides many commands that help you create and maintain a filing system specifically suited to your personal needs. Below are listed some of the commands on the file menu that will aid you in keeping your filing system in order.

Important File Menu Commands for File Management

  1. New -- To create a new folder of subfolder
  2. Delete -- To delete a file or folder
  3. Rename -- To change the name of a file or folder

To save a file click on FILE in the menu bar, select SAVE.

In the dialog box type the name you want to give the file and click on the Save button. The document is now saved on your hard disk.

To create a new folder in Windows Explorer click once on hard drive icon (usually (C) to make it active. In this way the new folder won't become a subfolder of another folder). Click FILE on the menu bar, select NEW and click FOLDER. A new folder will be created. The new folder is highlighted so you can type in a name for the folder. Notice in the left pane of Windows Explorer that there are plus signs to the left of some of the folders. If you click on a plus sign it will change to a minus sign and several subfolders are displayed under the the folder icon. Still some of these folders may have a plus sign indicating subfolders within then. Click on the different folders in the directory tree, and watch how the tree will continue to expand and display its different branches of folders and subfolders Files can be easily deleted. First select the folder in which the file is being stored by double clicking on it. Remember the folder will be on the left side of the Explorer window. The files will now be displayed in the right pane. To delete the file, click on the file icon or the file's name. Click FILE on the menu bar and click the DELETE command. A dialog box appears asking you to confirm that you want to delete the file and send it to Recycle Bin. This is an safeguard to double-check your command to delete the file. Click the Yes button to confirm your decision. The file will be removed from your folder and placed in the Recycle Bin where it is stored should you decide to restore the file at a later time. The dialog box and the recycle bin both protect against deleting a file by mistake.

When renaming a file there are a few things to consider. Files, like folders, can contain up to 255 characters excluding the /:*?"<> characters.

Do "NOT" change the last 3 characters (extension) of the filename. Windows looks at this extension to associate the document with a specific application.

To change a file name, first select the particular file. For example: say you have a file named "FOLLOWUPS" and you would like to change the name to "FOLLOWUP LETTERS". Select the"FOLLOWUPS" file in your contents window (right side of Explorer window). Click on the File menu and select RENAME. The file name becomes encircled indicating you can now type in the new name. You can now type in "FOLLOWUP LETTERS" and you have successfully changed the file name.

Until you become an advanced user I would suggest that you avoid moving program and system files. However, your personal data files you can rearrange to to meet your filing needs. Select the file or folder you want to copy or move. You can do this with more than one file or folder at a time. To select nonadjacent items, hold down CTRL key and click the items you want to select. For adjacent items hold down the Shift key while you select the items.

On the Edit menu, click Copy to copy the file, or click Cut to move the file. Double-Click the folder in which you want to place the file that is being moved or copied. On the Edit menu, click Paste. The file will now appear in its new location.

The drive and folder containing the files to be copied are called the source drive and source folder. Respectively, the drive and folder to which the files are to be copied are called the destination drive and destination folder.

The method of copying files to a floppy disk is the same procedure as copying a file to a folder. Select the file to be copied, go to the Edit menu and click Copy: Select 3? Floppy:A as your destination drive by double-clicking on its icon. On the file menu select paste and the file will be copied to the floppy disk. It is a wise to make backup copies of your important files on a floppy disk. In the event of a computer crash or should you accidentally delete an file, valuable information will not be lost. To find files in Windows Explorer, click on TOOLS in the menu bar. When the tools drop down menu appears select FIND and then click on Files and Folders. The Find: All Files dialog box appears. Type the name of the file you are trying to locate in the Named box. Click the Find Now button. Windows is now searching for the file indicated by the rotating magnifying glass under the New Search button.

In summation:

Windows Explorer is the application program that allows you to view the contents of the computer, the hierarchy of folders on the computer, and the files and folders in each folder.

Windows Explorer allows you to manage your electronic filing system to suit your preferences. You can copy, move, rename, or delete files and create back-up files on a floppy disk. As you create new folders, strive to develop a filing system that will allow easy access to all your computer projects.

As you create new files and folders, you many want to move them or copy them to a different location. Until you become an advanced user avoid moving program files.

When trying to locate a file remember you can use the Find command in Windows Explorer. You can also use the Find command on the start menu, which will also open the Find Files and Folders dialog box.

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