Files and Folders


Desktop showing icons and shortcuts and the taskbar and (inset) Window controls.DESKTOP: On your computer system you will have both files and folders which work very much like real life documents being placed inside folders.The whole mechanism in Windows is geared around the idea of office space,so for instance the first screen you will see is the "Desktop",which may have icons on it like "My computer" or "Trashcan" - the Desktop is a virtual representation of an actual desktop,so just like the real thing you can place documents on it or folders and they will be represented by the pictorial icons,some of the icons may have little arrows at the left hand bottom side -these are called "shortcuts" and are icons which when clicked go to a program that is actually located elsewhere on the computer's system. Each icon on the desktop is either a link to a program or to a document.The My Computer icon will open a view very much like EXPLORER (see below) and show what files are available or which hardware is attached to the computer.

TASKBAR: The taskbar is the bar at the bottom of the screen (though it can be moved) and is everything to the right of the START button,discluding the SYSTEM TRAY which is a short section of small icons to the right. The task bar is used to control which program is selected to the front of any windows which happen to be active.Note that the controls for each window such as CLOSE,MINIMISE,MAXIMISE can be found by right-clicking with the mouse on the taskbar icon for that window.The right click to one of the taskbar icons echos the controls at the top right hand corner of the window (see inset). Each icon on the taskbar shows that there is an active Window open,you might not be able to see the window if it is minimised,but it remains active,only by selecting CLOSE will the window shut down.

Windows Explorer is used to navigate around the folder system on your computer's hard drive EXPLORER: To view the whole of the computer's filespace we can use Windows Explorer - this is a program - and it can be found from the Windows START button under PROGRAMS. If it is not there you can choose RUN from the START button menu and type "explorer.exe". Explorer will allow you to see the folder structure on your PC and which files are in which folders.It also allows you to move copy and delete files that you have saved from other programs like WORD.You will also see the DESKTOP listed as an icon at the top of the file structure or "TREE" - this is because the folder structure is a HIERARCHY and the desktop is the top of the system with all other folders lying beneath it,even the MY COMPUTER icon is beneath the desktop. All your hard drives and floppy drives and CD-ROMS will show (as well as any partitioned drives you may have - these are segments of your hard drive which may show as other letters like H:).You may also see network connections to other computers,if you are operating on a network,but if your computer is stand alone then all your folders will show in this list as yellow icons,each with a plus or minus sign next to them. When clicked on,the plus and minus signs will expand or contract the tree of folders. Double-clicking on a folder will open the folder so you can see what documents or further folders are inside it. An open folder will show as an icon representing the fact that the folder is open. The folder structure is an attempt to mimic the sort of arrangement one might find in an office filing cabinet.The idea is to file documents in some sort of logical structure to that similar files are found in a given folder.So for instance,all files that are for a given program maybe found in a folder labelled for that program and any sub-folders will also have something to do with the program whose folder they occupy. In the view below you can see the folder structure for some Driver files - there are further sub-folders for a device which may need driver files,the Video folder is open showing all the files that maybe needed for the Video system - so we know from the folder structure that all the sub-folders of "Drivers" contain driver files and that Network and Video have further sub-folders,since they are marked with a plus "+" sign.The open folder "Video" shows that it's sub-folder is called BX_06502,but we know that the files in the folder along with it are all Video driver files.Windows will show the file TYPE if the DETAILS view is selected from the VIEW menu.Any files Explorer.exe showing A: drive and C:drive and folder structurewhich it does not recognise,will show as a default icon.In this case the "1" file is of a type which Windows does not recognise,that is,it does not know what program opens the file. Any attempt to click on this default icon will result in a query box asking if you can supply information as to what program should be used to access the file,or maybe if you wish to locate the required program on the internet.

In your folder system on your C: drive will be a folder labelled "Windows" - this is where all the files for the Windows operating system reside. It is not a good idea to access the files in that folder or the folder marked "Program Files" as these are the ones that operate the programs. You may find that attempts to access these folders will result in a message asking if you really want to access that area.If you do access those folders,do not delete anything from the folders as this could result in damage to the operation of your computer system.

On Explorer,there are a number of icons at the top of the file structure view,below the drop down menus.These icons control the navigation around the folder structure.The cut,copy and paste icons work the same way as every other program. CUT takes something from the display into the computer's memory for later PASTING to some other location.The only difference is that Explorer works with files and folders,not text.So it is possible to cut an entire document from one folder and paste it into another location. COPY does the same thing as cut,only leaving behind the original copy of the document or folder in the place where it resided to start with. The BACK,FORWARD and UP buttons are navigation buttons which determine where in the folder structure one will move to when those buttons are clicked on (this works the same way in Internet Explorer)


Inside folders one might find FILES,which are documents which belong to programs.The programs may also be found in folders,and it maybe worth familiarising yourself with File Extensions in order to understand the types of files you may meet.For instance,program files (.EXE) are different from text files (.TXT) and you may not always be able to see the file extension,so understanding what the extension is and how it may look as an icon maybe helpful.
Nominally,the icon representing a document may bear some relation to the program it is associated with,so for instance the WORD program icon is a large blue "W" and the documents associated with it (.DOC) show as an icon of a letter page with a small blue "W" inset into them. The 3 letter extension name is how Windows knows that the file is a WORD file and knows to indicate "Microsoft Word Document".Note that you cannot see the file extension,without first altering what view Explorer is using (for details - see File Extensions). There are various types of files,image files,text files,program files and others which you will find out about in File Extensions - but The Word program icon and it's associated document iconmostly you will only need to know about text,image and program files.

Program Files
Program files (.EXE) are those programs which can be RUN from the START button or from the Taskbar "Programs" menu.These include the MSoffice APPLICATIONS,and these files are written by a programmer to supply some function to the computer that you as a user will need,such as Wordprocessing or as with Explorer.exe - the facility to peruse your filing system.Double Clicking a Program file will open and run an application,such as WORD or ACCESS.

Text Files
There are various forms of Text file (.TXT).The basic form of a text file is the .txt file which is used with the text editor NOTEPAD.exe. Notepad is another program file,and uses the text files to store basic notes written on it's page. Another text file are the document  (.DOC) files used with WORD.When double clicked,text file icons will open their respective text editors,and each icon should be representative of the Application which opens it.So Notepad files have icons which look like little pages,whilst .docs look like a blue "W" inset into a typed page (see above left). Text files are stored in ASCII format,which is a code called American Standard Code for Information Interchange,it maybe necessary to know this when making webpages.

Image Files
Image Icons on XP for .bmp,.gif and .jpgThese files are those which store pictorial information,again,there are various formats,the standard one on Windows is .BMP,which is the file type which PAINT.exe uses.These files are binary in nature (mostly) and will be represented by an icon which shows the connection to some respective application.Shown left are some icons from Windows XP showing 3 file types .gif,.jpg and .bmp which may use the same or different programs to open them. Bitmaps are the ones marked with a paintbrush.Gifs are the ones with geometric symbols in and Jpeg are the one's marked with a camera.The images used on this page are .gif images 
Image files have a great many attributes and it is worth understanding why there are different formats. See "Using Paint" and "File Extensions" for more information.

Toolbars are where the control icons for an application reside,and the icons are easily accessible tools like the tools found in a workman's toolbag. The Toolbar is the virtual equivalent of the toolbag and is usually DOCKED at the top of the applications Window,but can be released and moved about for the purposes of accessibility. In general,toolbars can be very similar from application to application,especially if the programs are for very similar purposes. The CUT,COPY and PASTE icons in WORD are very similar to many EMAIL icons and possibly HTML editors.

Paintshop Pro Toolbar

Paintshop Pro Toolbar : An image editor

AOLPress Toolbar

AOLPress Toolbar : HTML Editor

Word Toolbar showing standard toolbar UNdocked

Word Toolbars : Text Editor