How to Open a Document in Windows 8 - dummies

How to Open a Document in Windows 8

By Andy Rathbone

Like Tupperware, Windows 8 is a big fan of standardization. Programs and apps are your tools: Load a program or app, and you can add numbers, arrange words, and shoot spaceships. Documents are the things you create with apps and programs: tax forms, heartfelt apologies, and lists of high scores. Almost all Windows programs load their documents — often called files — exactly the same way:

  1. Click the word File on the program’s menu bar, that row of staid words along the program’s top.

    If your program hides its menu bar, pressing the Alt key often reveals it.

    Still no menu bar? Then your program might have a Ribbon, a thick strip of multicolored icons along the window’s top. If you spot the Ribbon, click the tab or button in its leftmost corner to let the File menu tumble down.

  2. When the File menu drops down, choose Open.

    Windows gives you a sense of déjà vu with the Open window: It looks (and works) just like your Documents library.


    There’s one big difference, however: This time, your folder displays only files that your particular program knows how to open — it filters out all the others.

  3. Point at your desired document; click the mouse button; and click the Open button.

    On a touchscreen, tap the document to open it.

    The program opens the file and displays it on the screen.

Opening a file works this way in most Windows programs, whether written by Microsoft, its corporate partners, or the teenager down the street.

  • To speed things up, double-click a desired file’s name; that opens it immediately, automatically closing the Open window.

  • If your file isn’t listed by name, start browsing by clicking the buttons or words shown along the left side of the figure. Click the Documents library, for example, to see files stored inside.

  • Humans store things in the garage, but computers store their files in neatly labeled compartments called folders. (Double-click a folder to see what’s stored inside; if you spot your file, open it with a double-click.)

  • Whenever you open a file and change it, even by accident, Windows 8 assumes that you’ve changed the file for the better. If you try to close the file, Windows 8 cautiously asks whether you want to save your changes. If you updated the file with masterful wit, click Yes. If you made a mess or opened the wrong file, click No or Cancel.

  • Confused about any icons or commands along the Open window’s top or left side? Rest your mouse pointer over the icons, and a little box announces their occupations.

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