Article 13: Getting Organized
Is your work scattered all over your computer? You are not alone. Here's a question that I've received from many readers:
My computer is driving me crazy. I've been saving documents and pictures in many different places and everything is totally disorganized. Is there some way that I can organize what I have in my computer so that I can find things more easily?
The Windows Explorer
The Windows program contains a feature called the Windows Explorer. (This is not the same as the Internet Explorer which is your browser; this feature has nothing to do with the Internet.)
The Windows Explorer gives you an overview of the contents of your computer, and within it, you can create and delete folders, rename folders, copy and/or move documents, pictures and other files. Using it may feel awkward at first, but it will save you a lot of time and aggravation in the long run.
Let's get started, using the metaphor of your own desk at home. A file cabinet drawer contains folders that you have organized according to topics. You can put anything you want in these folders—documents, pictures, etc. You may also have loose papers lying around that have not yet been filed. Your computer is no different, and if we look inside we will find folders (indicated by little yellow folder icons), and loose files each with their own unique icon indicating what they are.
You probably find things in your computer by double-clicking the My Computer icon. Let's do it differently this time.
1. Right-click the My Computer icon, and click Explore.
Your screen is now filled with two ‘window panes': generally speaking, the narrow left pane serves as a kind of table of contents, showing folders that exist on your computer.
If you click a folder in the left pane, the contents of that folder are displayed in the right pane, showing not only folders but also other ‘loose' files that have not been organized within folders.
(As you go through the article, remember that your My Documents folder contains different documents than mine does, so the pictures below will look somewhat different than what you see on your computer.)
Let's look at the contents of the My Documents folder, create a new folder within it, and move an already existing document into the new folder. Don't worry; at the end of the exercise you will move the document back to its original location.
2. The first step takes place only in the left pane. With the Windows Explorer open, locate the My Documents folder.
The plus sign to the left of the words My Documents indicates that the My Documents folder has other folders within it.
3. Click on the plus sign.
The My Documents folder expands like an accordion and you can see its contents. The plus sign also changes to a minus sign indicating that the folder is open and expanded. If you click the minus sign, the folder will collapse back into itself.
(Note: The My Documents folder may have other folders with plus signs nested within. If you continue to click the + signs, you'll go deeper and deeper into the folder hierarchy.)
Now we will work in the left AND right panes.
Let's create a new folder called Family Events.
A yellow folder appears with the words New Folder highlighted underneath it.
7. Type directly over those words and name the folder Family Events.
Now let's put something in the folder.
8. Take any other document or folder that you see in the right pane, click on it and without releasing the mouse drag it into the Family Events folder.
9. RELEASE YOUR MOUSE ONLY when the Family Events folder is highlighted. You have successfully moved something into your new folder.
If you change your mind, you can easily undo this action by going to the Edit menu at the top left of your screen, and clicking Undo Move. You can undo the move as long as you do it immediately. The Windows Edit menu can only undo the last action that you did.
Folders can be created anywhere in your computer. They can also be renamed, deleted, copied, and much more. The more you work with the Windows Explorer, the more comfortable you'll be with its various functions, and the more organized your computer will be.