For Seniors: How Microsoft Windows Organizes Data

When you work in a software program, such as a word processor, you save your document as a file. You can save files to your computer hard drive, removable storage media such as USB flash drives (which are about the size of a package of gum and you insert them into a USB port on your computer), or recordable DVDs (small flat discs you insert into a disc drive on your computer).

You can organize files by placing them in folders. The Windows operating system helps you organize files and folders in the following ways:

  • Take advantage of predefined folders: Windows sets up some folders for you. For example, the first time you start Windows 7, you find folders for Documents, Pictures, Videos, and Music already set up on your computer. You can see them listed in Windows Explorer.

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  • The Documents folder is a good place to store letters, presentations for your community group, household budgets, and so on. The Pictures folder is where you store picture files, which you may transfer from a digital camera or scanner, receive in an e-mail message from a friend or family member, or download from the Internet. Similarly, the Videos folder is a good place to put files from your camcorder, and the Music folder is where you place tunes you download or transfer from a music player.

  • Create your own folders: You can create any number of folders and give them a name that identifies the types of files you’ll store there. For example, you might create a folder called Digital Scrapbook if you use your computer to create scrapbooks, or a folder called Taxes where you save e-mailed receipts for purchases and electronic tax filing information.

  • Place folders within folders to further organize files: A folder you place within another folder is called a subfolder. For example, in your Documents folder, you might have a subfolder called Holiday Card List that contains your yearly holiday newsletter and address lists. In a Pictures folder, you might organize the picture files by creating subfolders that begin with the year and then a description of the event or subject, such as 2008 Home Garden Project, 2010 Christmas, and so on.

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  • Move files and folders from one place to another: Being able to move files and folders helps you if you decide it’s time to reorganize information on your computer. For example, when you start using your computer, you might save all your documents to your Documents folder. That’s okay for a while, but in time, you may have dozens of documents saved in that one folder. To make your files easier to locate, you can create subfolders by topic and move files into them.

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