How do I view and find the files on my computer?
This is fundamental to getting in control. Older versions of Windows looked a bit different
from Win 10 but the fundamentals are the same.
File Explorer is the usual way to view files and folders. Most programs (photo viewers
etc) have a similar folder view for finding and saving files. You can also create a
desktop shortcut to your most used folders (photos etc).
It is very important to get comfortable with the idea of folders. In the Win10 graphic
to the right you can see that I've ignored the pre-set Microsoft locations for data
(Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos) because they are confusing synonyms for silly
That has caused endless confusion over the years and it's a bad idea anyway to mix
your data up with Windows and installed programs on the same drive/partition. That makes
system images and data backups so much more difficult. So on our two computers all our
data is on D:\ (a partition on the laptop and physically separate SSD on the PC).
You can use the mouse or the arrow, Backspace and Enter keys to navigate around your
folders. Double clicking a file runs it with the appropriate application. The up
arrow symbol is useful for moving to the folder at the next level up. You can also
click anywhere in the folder address to go there.
The arrow head symbol to the left of folders (on the right) just means it has
subfolders which are not shown. Click on the symbol and File Explorer shows
folders at the next level.
Once you learn to navigate, create and delete folders and how to copy, rename
and move files around them you will find it much easier to keep your documents
and data tidy and to find what you are looking for.
If you use different Windows logins for different people then you'll only see
files relating to the current login - very confusing, and fiendishly hard to
back up too. I've never needed multiple logins.
How do I select multiple files to copy, move or delete?
To select a single file or folder just left click on it with the mouse in
File Explorer. To select multiple ones click on the first then let go of
the mouse, hold down the Shift key and use the keyboard arrows to highlight
them. To highlight selected files hold the Ctrl key down and left click on
the ones you want with the mouse.
Once the files or folders are selected you can delete, move or copy them.
The Win 10 example to the right shows a few files selected.
How do I copy or move files or folders?
Do this in File Explorer, opening two copies of Explorer if that makes it
easier. The quickest way is to learn the keyboard shortcuts. First select
the folder(s) or file(s) to copy or move then hold down the Ctrl key. Tap
C to Copy them into memory or X to delete them (and copy them into memory).
Go to where you want to copy or move them to, click once
on the right hand area in Windows Explorer and Ctrl V drops them in that
place. Try it out - it's easily the quickest way.
Edit, Copy/Cut/Paste are the menu alternatives. Right click then copy,
cut, paste works well too.
To use the mouse, open two copies of Explorer, one showing the origin
and the other showing the destination folder, and drag a file or folder
across (to the right hand area of the destination) to move it or Ctrl
drag to copy it. The desktop is a valid destination for a move or copy
but can make things confusing and cluttered (and doesn't tend to get
backed up). If you're dragging a file or folder onto a removable device,
eg a music player, it will be copied rather than moved.
How do I see how large files are?
View, Details in File Explorer shows files in a list with size etc.
How do I find a file from way back?
Windows has its own indexed search facilities - just search from Explorer.
As long as all your files are indexed (which may slow the system down
at times) you can find files pretty well and quickly. But somehow I don't
find the inbuilt seach, which looks within files, very reliable.
Of course with music files and especially photographs this approach
depends completely on the meaning of the file being in the filename. If
you leave all your photos as DSC01372 or similar then how on earth can
the search service know whether the content is a beach or a barbecue?
If you keep your files on a separate partition (or even disk) from
your programs and operating system it all gets a lot easier, as
searches stop getting spurious results from, for example, images buried
deep under applications. It also makes backing up so much easier.
I swear by the wonderful, and free, Everything search tool. It doesn't
scan inside files, just looks at the file names, and is blindingly fast.
I've excluded my C drive from searches and you can also use all sorts of
search tricks. It means that I usually make file names longewr and more
meaningful nowadays and can find most things very quickly:
How to make a new folder?
Just left click in a folder in File Explorer then right click and select
How to rename a file or folder?
In Explorer left click it then pause and left click it again. You can
then edit it - remember that when it's high-lit you will delete the text
as soon as you start typing so click once more (or use your left arrow key)
to amend the existing text. Try it - it's easy. F2 is the rename shortcut
if you want to show off (or do a load of renames quickly).
Files move to their new sort positions as soon as they are renamed.
How do I find if my hard disc's full?
In File Explorer right click on the disc drive (usually C:)
then choose Properties.
You can do this on other drives (eg D: or E:) as well, eg a music player or phone
or memory stick you're filling up with your favourite music, videos or whatever.
How do I find out what's clogging up my disk?
In File Explorer it's very difficult. Our data drive, D:\, has 160GB of data
spread over 64,000 files in 3,500 folders! How can you check out that many folders?
It's worth emptying the Recycle Bin and your browser cache.
A brilliant piece of freeware from Holland is Windirstat, which graphically
pinpoints which are your lurking disk hogs. It could be just a long forgotten
video clip. See below. As you hover your mouse cursor over the schematic it
tells you where the big culprits are. The purple area top left is all our rock
and classical CDs in mp3 format. Top right is videos and top centre is photos.