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What Is a Path in Windows 8?

A path in Windows 8 is merely the file’s address, similar to your own. When a letter is mailed to your house, for example, it travels to your country, state, city, street, and house. A computer path starts with the letter of the disk drive and ends with the file’s name. In between, the path lists all the folders the computer must travel through to reach the file.

For example, look at the Downloads folder. For Windows 8 to find a file stored in my Downloads folder, it starts from the computer’s C: drive, travels through the Users folder, and then goes through the Andy (or your user name) folder. From there, it goes into the Andy folder’s Downloads folder. (Internet Explorer follows that path when saving your downloaded files.)

Take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Now add in the computer’s ugly grammar: In a path, the Windows disk drive letter is referred to as C:\. The disk drive letter and colon make up the first part of the path.

All the other folders are inside the big C: folder, so they’re listed after the C: part. Windows separates these nested folders with something called a backslash, or \. The downloaded file’s name — Tax Form 3890, for example — comes last.

Put it all together, and you get C:\Users\Andy\Downloads\Tax Form 3890. That’s the computer’s official path to the Tax Form 3890 file in Andy’s Downloads folder. Of course, on your computer, you can substitute your own user name for Andy.

This stuff can be tricky, so here it is again: The letter for the drive comes first, followed by a colon and a backslash. Then come the names of all the folders leading to the file, separated by backslashes. Last comes the name of the file itself.

Windows 8 automatically puts together the path for you when you click folders — thankfully. But whenever you click the Browse button to look for a file, you’re navigating through folders and traversing along the path leading to the file.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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