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For Seniors: Understand How Windows 8.1 Organizes Data

You may get better at using your laptop if you understand how things are organized. When you work in a software program, such as a word processor, you save your document as a file. Files can be saved to your laptop hard drive, removable storage media such as USB flash drives (which are small plastic "sticks" that you slot into your laptop), or to recordable CDs or DVDs.

You can organize files by placing them in folders. The Windows operating system helps you to 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 8, you find folder libraries for Documents, Pictures, Videos, and Music already set up on your laptop. You can see them listed in File Explorer (click the File Explorer button in the Desktop taskbar).

    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 or video files shared with you, and the Music folder is where you place tunes you download, rip from a DVD, or transfer from a music player.

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  • Create your own folders. You can create any number of folders and give each one a name that identifies the types of files you’ll store in it. For example, you might create a folder called Digital Scrapbook if you use your laptop 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 your Pictures folder, you can organize the picture files by creating subfolders that begin with the year and then a description of the event or subject, such as Home Garden Project, 2013 Christmas, 2011 San Francisco Trip, Family Reunion, Pet Photos, and so on.

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  • Move files and folders from one place to another. Being able to move files and folders is helpful if you decide it’s time to reorganize information on your laptop. For example, when you start using your laptop, you might save all your documents to your Documents folder.

    That’s okay for a while, but in time, you might 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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