This category will teach you how to Create, Open, Rename, Save, Delete, Copy and Move a Folder and/or File. It will also teach you about the relationship between Folders and Files as well as explain about File Types, File Formats, File Names and Extensions, File Sizes, System Folders, Path Names and Icons.
Although Windows 10 allows data to be stored inside Memory, the core storage place for data is inside a File. In turn, the core storage place for a file is inside a Folder.
You can think of Folders and Files in the same way as normal Filing Cabinet folders (brown foldable A4-ish sized card) and files (paper documents). The filing cabinet is the storage device. When you open a file cabinet door you usually then open a brown folder, before looking at the papers (collectively known as: files) within that folder. I say usually because you can have one or more loose papers (files) within the cabinet itself of course. With a computer it is slightly different.
Your Hard Drive (or Hard Drive Partition) is the main storage device (filing cabinet) - A CD/DVD, Floppy Disk and Flash Drive (Memory Stick) are classed as Removable Storage Devices but nevertheless can also be classified as a filing cabinet (removable filing cabinet / removable storage device). When you open (go into / look inside) a storage device such as the hard drive you usually then open a folder, before looking at the file(s) within that folder. Again, I say usually because you can have one or more loose files within the hard drive itself as well.
This is the normal Folders and Files scenario. However, the computer has extra features not found with a filing cabinet. One of them is the ability to store hundreds of files in one folder. Another is the ability to have many folders within one folder. These are known as sub-folders and can also store hundreds of files within them. Here are some examples:
Fig 1.0 A Filing Cabinet
Fig 1.1 Sub-Folders and Files
Fig 1.2 The OS (C:) Hard Drive Partition
Fig 1.1 is showing a filing cabinet that has two separate folders inside it, one called Business and the other called Home. The business folder has three pieces of paper (files) inside it (Accounts, Invoice and Receipt) and the home folder has three pieces of paper (files) inside it (Bills, Letter and Manual).
Fig 1.2 is showing how the OS (C:) hard drive partition (root folder) can store a folder with six files inside it, in the same way as a filing cabinet. It shows the Business folder with the files Accounts.xlsx, john.jpg, Invoice.docx, Notes.txt, index.htm and Media.wma inside it.
Fig 1.3 is showing the OS (C:) hard drive partition (root folder) with a folder inside it called Business. The Business folder is the same as in Fig 1.2 except it now has a sub-folder inside it, called Bills, that has files Electric.xlsx, Gas.xlsx and Phone.xlsx inside it. A sub-folder is just a folder, like Bills, that is inside another folder. If the Bills sub-folder was not inside the Business folder but inside the OS (C:) hard drive partition (root folder) instead, along side the business folder, it would be known as a folder only. This is the only difference between a folder and a sub-folder.
Although the hard drive as a piece of hardware is the core storage device for a computer, and more precisely for the Windows 10 operating system files, it should be looked upon as the root folder and not just as the core storage device. Meaning: OS (C:) is the root folder, on the hard drive, that all the other folders get stored inside. So the Business folder for example is actually a sub-folder of the OS (C:) hard drive partition (root folder), because it is a folder stored inside the OS (C:) folder, but at the same time it is also a main folder in its own right for any sub-folders it contains itself.
The reason I mention this is because most people are led to believe, through Magazines and Books, that the OS (C:) hard drive partition (root folder) is a storage device (storage folder) for Windows 10's use only; but this is wrong. The OS (C:) hard drive partition (root folder) can be used for your storage purposes as well, like I have shown above, as long as you avoid deleting any of the Windows 10 folders, sub-folders and files.
In these examples, and throughout the Windows 10 lessons, I use the OS (C:) hard drive partition (root folder) as the example. So to clarify: Your hard drive is one physical object (storage device) inside your computer that can either be set up as one piece (i.e. one partition such as the OS (C:) Hard Drive Partition) or be split into two pieces (i.e. two partitions such as the OS (C:) Hard Drive Partition and the Data (D:) Hard Drive Partition).
Once the hard drive has been set up (partitioned, if necessary) Windows 10 is then normally installed on the (C:) Hard Drive Partition, because (C:) is more or less guaranteed to be created whereas (D:) is usually an optional creation. Anyway. In these examples I have the Windows 10 operating system installed on the (C:) Hard Drive Partition, hence its given name of OS (short for Operating System) and the Data (D:) Hard Drive Partition being used for pure storage purposes.
The main folders that are installed for the Windows 10 operating system are called Windows, Program Files and Users. The Users folder initially contains two sub-folders. One named Public that is used in conjunction with a Network (i.e. File Sharing), and therefore publicly available, and one named after each User Account/User Name (i.e. John). Each User Name sub-folder is private to that user and contains sub-folders that help Windows 10, and that user, stay organized. These sub-folders, which are classed as part of the Windows 10 folders, are called Contacts, Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Favorites, Links, Music, Pictures, Videos, Saved Games and Searches.
Fig 1.4 The USERS folder and its sub-folders for the John user account/user name only
You should NEVER try to delete the Windows 10 folders, sub-folders or files otherwise you may end up with a non-working computer. They are explained here to make you aware of them, so that you know what they are used for and which ones you can use. By default (normal behaviour) Windows 10 is set up so that its most important folders, sub-folders and files are hidden from you, to avoid accidental erasure.
This folder contains the actual sub-folders and files that makes Windows 10 work. Deleting any sub-folder and/or file inside this folder can cripple Windows 10 to the point where it may no longer work. So do not delete anything from this folder.
Depending on your Setup/Installation this folder might be called Winnt, Windows or a name your computer engineer (installer) gave it. Either way it will contain the Windows 10 sub-folders and files which should not be deleted or tampered with.
The Program Files folder is the folder where Installation Folders/Files are installed. For example: If you have Microsoft Office installed you will see a sub-folder called Microsoft Office inside the Program Files folder. And within the Microsoft Office sub-folder there are more sub-folders, and the Microsoft Office files themselves (including Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel). The same applies to most Third Party software - They install their folders, sub-folders and/or files inside the Programs Files folder as well.
Whenever you need to use a program, such as Microsoft Word, you should open (execute/launch) it by clicking on its START Menu link (shortcut icon), or by double clicking on its Desktop icon, rather than going into the Program Files folder to look for its executable file (i.e. WINWORD.exe). If you do the latter and then accidentally delete the WINWORD.exe file for example Microsoft Word would no longer work. However, if you use its START Menu link (or Desktop icon) instead and then accidentally delete that link/icon you could still get Microsoft Word working again by creating a new Shortcut icon. So basically, leave the Program Files folder alone.
USER - User Name - Contacts
The Contacts folder is a sub-folder inside your User Name folder (i.e. John) but also a folder in its own right. It contains .contact files which can be created and used by the Windows Contacts program and the Windows Mail program. Windows Contacts is an address book program and Windows Mail is an e-mail program, both accessible from the START Menu's ALL APPS Programs List (if installed/available). When you reply to an e-mail Windows Mail usually creates a standard address book entry (.contact file) for the person/company you are replying to.
USER - User Name - Desktop
The Desktop folder is a sub-folder inside your User Name folder (i.e. John) but also a folder in its own right. It contains YOUR Shortcut Icons as found on the actual desktop. For example: If a piece of software places a shortcut icon on the desktop, as part of its installation process, that shortcut icon will not be found in this Desktop sub-folder. Only shortcut icons created on the desktop by yourself will be inside this Desktop sub-folder.
A shortcut is an icon (file) that links (shortcuts) straight to an actual folder or file, as opposed to being the actual folder or file, which means double clicking on a shortcut icon either takes you inside a folder (or sub-folder) or opens (executes/launches) a program. Read Create A Shortcut Icon in the Start Menu section for more information.
USER - User Name - Downloads
The Downloads folder is a sub-folder inside your User Name folder (i.e. John) but also a folder in its own right. It is primarily used as a storage folder for files you download from the Internet. This can include Software, Windows 10 Specific Files and Templates for example.
USER - User Name - Favorites
The Favorites folder is a sub-folder inside your User Name folder (i.e. John) but also a folder in its own right. It contains all the Favorites files (Web Page Links) you see on Internet Explorer's FAVORITES menu. If you ever need to backup (make a copy of) your personal Favorites files this is where you will find them.
USER - User Name - Links
The Links folder is a sub-folder inside your User Name folder (i.e. John) but also a folder in its own right. It contains Shortcut Icons (Links) to certain Windows 10 folders such as Documents, Music and Pictures (explained below) as well links to Recently Changed files and Recent Searches you have made.
USER - User Name - Documents
The Documents folder is a sub-folder inside your User Name folder (i.e. John) but also a folder in its own right. It is meant to contain your Documents (files), such as your Microsoft Word documents and documents (i.e. Web Pages) you have downloaded from the Internet, but these days some software packages use it as a place to store their configuration file(s) for example.
A configuration file is a file that normally contains information (settings) about the way you use a particular piece of software and/or about when it needs to update itself and so on. Because of this "Configuration Saving" trend, be careful what you delete from the Documents sub-folder. Do not delete any sub-folders for example within the Documents sub-folder, especially if they are named after a piece of software.
If you need to open the Documents sub-folder you can open it by clicking on its START Menu link (shortcut icon) or by opening the User Name folder first - Either click on the User Name link (shortcut icon) from the START Menu or double click on the User Name desktop icon (if available). From there, open the Documents sub-folder as normal by double clicking on it.
Always create categorized sub-folders (i.e. Business, Home, Internet, etc) for your documents. Otherwise they all end up in the Documents sub-folder only, which in the long run means you get confused with which files to delete and which to keep because you no longer know which files are old/irrelevant and which are new/relevant. This is a normal scenario:
Save a file as Accounts.xlsx. Update it next week. Decide the name is no longer relevant so save a new copy as Accounts_John.xlsx. One week later update the file by changing (deleting) John's account details for Sarah's account details and then resave the file as Accounts_Sarah.xlsx. As time goes on you forget about the original Accounts.xlsx and stick with Accounts_John.xlsx and Accounts_Sarah.xlsx. One year later you have many forgotten original files - Accounts_Tracey.xlsx, CV.docx, Scan001.jpg, Essay.docx and so on.
USER - User Name - Music
The Music folder is a sub-folder inside your User Name folder (i.e. John) but also a folder in its own right. It contains music files (i.e. .wma .mp3 etc) that you have downloaded from the Internet, ripped (copied) from a CD and so on. This is normally the first folder a music program will look inside when it needs to open (read) or save (write) a music file.
USER - User Name - Pictures
The Pictures folder is a sub-folder inside your User Name folder (i.e. John) but also a folder in its own right. It contains picture files (i.e. .jpg .png .bmp etc) that you have downloaded from the Internet, copied from a CD and so on. This is normally the first folder a graphics/paint/photo program will look inside when it needs to open (read) or save (write) a picture file.
USER - User Name - Video
The Videos folder is a sub-folder inside your User Name folder (i.e. John) but also a folder in its own right. It contains audio/video files (i.e. .flv .mpg .wmv etc) that you have downloaded from the Internet, copied from a CD and so on. This is normally the first folder a multimedia program will look inside when it needs to open (read) or save (write) an audio/video file.
USER - User Name - Saved Games
The Saved Games folder is a sub-folder inside your User Name folder (i.e. John) but also a folder in its own right. Within this sub-folder is another sub-folder called Microsoft Games. It contains Saved-Game files - When you play a Windows 10 game (i.e. Chess) you are given the option to save its current state upon exit, which means when you replay the game you can either start a new game or continue with the saved game. Each game has its own sub-folder within the Microsoft Games sub-folder.
USER - User Name - Searches
The Searches folder is a sub-folder inside your User Name folder (i.e. John) but also a folder in its own right. It contains Search files for your Recently Changed files and other Recent Searches you have made. For example: If you search for John, once the searching for files called John has finished you can save the search results. In this case, a search file called John.search-ms would be saved - Double clicking on the John.search-ms file would bring up the search results again, but a lot quicker this time as the search was previously done of course.
When naming folders you can use Letters, Numbers, Spaces and some Punctuation Marks. These next characters are generally reserved for Windows 10's use and can not be used as part of your folder name. \ / : * ? " < > |
Continuing with the Filing Cabinet example, above. Computer files are exactly the same as the (paper) files you put into a filing cabinet (brown A4-ish card) folder, with the exceptions that they are stored on a computer and made from data instead of ink. For example: To make a C.V you might type it out using Microsoft Word instead of a typewriter. To do your accounts you might use Microsoft Excel instead of filling out receipts by hand and using a calculator. To put a photograph with a file you insert it as part of your file instead of attaching it with a paper clip. And so on. The point being that you will end up with a file, of some sort, that is identical to a filing cabinet file. The sort of file you end up with depends on what you are creating.
If you are typing out a C.V only it will be saved as a Text File and if you are drawing something only it will be saved as a Picture File. A file can also be a mix of text and drawings. In which case, you have the choice of saving your file as a text file (with drawings inserted) or as a picture file (with text). These two file types, Text and Picture, are standard in both a filing cabinet file and a computer file, but this is where the comparisons end because the next two file types are only found with a computer. They are the Music and Video (Multimedia) file types.
You can save a piece of music as an Audio file, a piece of video footage as a Video file or have a video file that combines audio and video. So far that is four standard file types for the computer (Text, Picture, Audio and Video). The fifth and final standard file type is the Executable (launchable) file. It is a file that launches itself as a program (like a Paint program for example) so you can use it as a tool (i.e. a Drawing tool).
When typing a letter you normally give it your own style. Perhaps you underline some words, use a different colour ink to highlight important words, CAPITALise words, use pencil instead of pen, sign it in a certain way and so on. Before you put it into an envelope you might also enclose a photograph, cheque or whatever. In other words, you will have customized/styled that letter. Or in computer terminology you will have formatted it.
With written format you could write the letter in Crayon, Ink, Pencil or whatever. With handwriting style (format) you could write in Gothic text, Old English text or whatever. Even the wording could be formatted. Shakespearian, Latin, Spanish and so on. You could also mix these formats together to give you your own unique format. This is what has been done with the computer. A program like Microsoft Word shows this nicely. It allows you to change the text style, text colours and text language, insert photographs and so forth so you end up creating a unique letter style (format) for yourself. Although the word 'Format' basically means to Design, Set Up, Arrange, Layout, etc with computers it also means the way the data is laid out (organised). Here are some file format descriptions:
Example.txt This is a file called Example with the extension name .txt
The .txt extension means it is a file that contains pure Text only - No colouring or styling. This kind of file
is normally written using a standard text editor like NotePad.
Example.rtf This is a file called Example with the extension name .rtf
The .rtf extension means it is a file that can contain Text and Simple Objects (Pictures and Links to other files) - The
text can be coloured and styled. This kind of file is normally written using a standard text editor like WordPad.
Example.bmp This is a file called Example with the extension name .bmp
The .bmp extension means it is a file that contains a Picture - You can insert/combine Freehand Drawing with Text and
Photographs but the file will still be a picture file. The file will be RAW, which means the dots (pixels) that make up the
picture will be stored in the file as dots. This kind of file is normally made with a Paint program.
Example.jpg This is a file called Example with the extension name .jpg
The .jpg extension means it is a file that contains a Picture (normally a Photograph) - You can insert/combine Freehand
Drawing with Text and Photographs but the file will still be a picture file. The file data will usually be Compressed, which means
the dots (pixels) that make up the picture will be stored in the file as compressed/crunched data. So, if three dots are
red,red and red (3 words) they could be stored in the file as three,red (2 words) instead. This happens throughout the file,
thus, making it smaller (compressed/crunched) when it is saved. When you view (open) the file with a paint program the
data (three,red) is interpreted (decompressed/uncrunched) as red,red and red again. This kind of file is normally made with
a Scanner and then edited with a Photo Editing program.
Example.png This is a file called Example with the extension name .png
The .png extension means it is a file that contains Imagery (normally of medium size and used by Website
Designers) - You can insert/combine Freehand Drawing with Text and Photographs but the file will still be an image file.
The file data will usually be Compressed, like .jpg files above, but it will be compressed both horizontally and
vertically - .jpeg data is only compressed horizontally. Picture files in general store dot information, colour information,
file size information and so on. If you want to use big pictures .jpeg files are better than .png files because of the way
.jpeg data is compressed. However. If you only want to use medium sized pictures or drawings .png files might be better for
you, especially for website use. A .png file normally starts off as .jpg or .bmp file (from a paint program or scanned
photograph) which you then save as a .png file to cut down on file size (less colours, very compressed data and so on).
Example.mpg This is a file called Example with the extension name .mpg
The .mpg extension means it is a file that contains Video and/or Audio (normally both) that has come from a WebCam,
Home Movie or Professional Video source. There are video and audio Editing programs you can use to edit .mpg files but
in general people just use video and audio files for playback purposes. Video and Audio files have their own way of
formatting data (just like the old BetaMax vs VHS video tape scenario years back) and therefore have many different file
formats, such as .cda (CD Audio), .mp3 (Music/Sound/Speech), .avi (Audio/Video), .wma (Audio),
.wmv (Audio/Video) and so on.
Example.docx This is a file called Example with the extension name .docx
The .docx extension means it is a file that can contain Text, Pictures, Video, Audio and Objects (Links to Web Pages,
etc). The text can be coloured and styled. This kind of file is a Microsoft Word (Word Processor) file.
Example.xlsx This is a file called Example with the extension name .xlsx
The .xlsx extension means it is a file that can contain Text, Numbers, Pictures and Charts/Graphs. The text can be
coloured and styled. This kind of file is a Microsoft Excel (Accounting) file.
Example.wps This is a file called Example with the extension name .wps
The .wps extension means it is a file that can contain Text and Pictures. The text can be coloured and styled. This
kind of file is a Microsoft Works (Word Processor) file - Microsoft Works, which is normally shipped with a new computer, is
a stripped down version of Microsoft Office.
Example.html This is a file called Example with the extension name .html
The .html extension means it is a file that contains (Programming Language) pure Text, which Internet Explorer
translates as instructions for making a specific Web (Internet) Page. This kind of file is normally written using a
standard text editor like NotePad or with a special editor made for programmers. There are many variants of .html
(i.e .htm, .xhtml, .dhtml and so on).
Example.exe This is a file called Example with the extension name .exe
The .exe extension means it is a file that Executes (launches/opens) itself as a program. A paint program is an
executable file. So is a Word Processor. As are Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. For example. When you double click
on the Microsoft Word (WINWORD.exe) file directly, or double click the icon (picture file) associated with it, Microsoft
Word gets launched/opened. From there you can either open an existing document or start typing out a new document.
Executable files are written by Software Producers and Programmers. The only time you need to differentiate between an
.exe file and another file is usually when you need to install something and need to find the Setup.exe file or Install.exe
Do not be put off by File Formats. They come and go as soon as a new text editor, music program or whatever hits the market. To play safe just use the file format that best suits your needs or the standard file format for the program you are using, regardless if that file format is the best/worst choice. For example: Imagine you have just scanned a large photograph in .jpg format, which then goes into a paint program. You have plenty of space to save the photograph (as a .jpg file) on your hard drive but not enough space to save it onto a floppy diskette (as a .jpg file). What do you do? Answer. Save the photograph onto your hard drive first, as a .jpg file, and then resave the photograph as a .png file onto a floppy diskette.
So to sum up. A file is a block of data (numbers/characters) that can be used to make a picture, a document (text), a video or an audio track. These data blocks can not be launched on their own - they need additional software (such as a Paint program, a Word Processor and so on) to make them work and/or viewable. The exception being an executable block of data, which launches/opens itself as a program. Each file is known by its Type (Text, Picture, Video, Audio or Executable) and Format (.txt, .rtf, .doc, .bmp, .jpg, .mpg, .avi, .exe and so on) which is governed by the way the block of data is formatted (compressed, styled, etc).
When naming files you can use Letters, Numbers, Spaces and some Punctuation Marks. These next characters are generally reserved for Windows 10's use and can not be used as part of your file name. \ / : * ? " < > |
A file's size is measured by the amount of data (numbers/characters) it is storing. Each number in a file is known as 1 Byte and so is each character. So if a Text file only contains the words "Hello Ben" (without the quotes) it will have a file size of at least 9 Bytes, because it contains 9 characters. If it contained "123456789" it would still have a file size of at least 9 Bytes, because it would contain 9 numbers. And even if it contained a mixture of numbers and characters, like "Hello 123", it would still be at least 9 Bytes. I say At Least because a file is not just made up from its own data (numbers/characters) but also from program data.
When Microsoft Word for example saves a text (.docx) file it not only saves the text but it also saves things like the Colour, Font and Paragraph Markers data as well. So if every letter of "Hello Ben" was a different colour Microsoft Word might save the data as 9 Bytes for the Text plus 27 Bytes for the Colour (Each colour is made of up a Red, Green and Blue value which means 1 Byte per colour value. So 3 colour values x 9 letters = 27) plus Bytes for any Font and Paragraph Markers used - Giving you a total file size of at least 36 Bytes (27 colour values + 9 letters). Unless you know how each program stores data into a file you will never know what a file's size is going to be until either the program tells you or until the file has been saved.
In order to put file size into perspective, when a file contains more than 1 Byte the Bytes are then known by other names. The same as in English. You say 1 Letter, 1 Word, 1 Sentence and so on. In computer terms 1,000 Bytes are known as 1 Kilo Byte (1 KB) and 1 Million Bytes are known as 1 Mega Byte (1 MB). When a file contains 2,0000 Bytes you then say 2 Kilo Bytes and with 2 Million Bytes you say 2 Mega Bytes. And so on.
1 Floppy Diskette can store approximately 1.44 MegaBytes (in reality 1.38 MegaBytes or 1,457,664 Bytes) which means you could store up to 118 Microsoft Word files, consisting of 1 (full) Page each. Or put another way, up to 29 C.Vs consisting of 4 pages each. This may sound a lot but in todays age of mass storage 1.44 Mega Bytes is quite small. Years ago people were quite happy to carry 2 floppy diskettes around with them. I.e One for their C.Vs and one for their Contacts List. These days people tend to carry a CD or Flash Drive around with them, full of Music files, Photographs, C.Vs and Project files.
Remember what has been said here because before you start typing out big files, or start downloading (saving) files from the Internet, you need to make sure you have enough space (bytes) on your flash drive for example to store those files. Otherwise you will get the classic "Disk Full" error, which means there is not enough space remaining on your flash drive to store the files.