The Basics of Files, Folders & Shortcuts
Among the first things PC newcomers discover is that they will be working mainly with files, folders, and shortcuts — and that it's important to understand their differences. Simply put, most items are files (such as pictures, musical selections, email messages and the various parts of application programs).
We keep these files in folders, whose icons are usually identified by a little Yellow Folder. Likewise, folders often contain other folders, while some files and folders are buried deep inside of multiple nested folders.
Because there are so many thousands of files and folders on your hard drive, those which you access frequently often have a shortcut. Most shortcut icons are identified by a tiny bent arrow in their lower left corners. Thus, clicking an Excel Shortcut icon takes you to Excel.exe, a file which initiates the Excel spreadsheet program.
You can create your own shortcut to a file or a folder by right-clicking your Desktop and following the "wizard" prompts. Alternatively, you can right-click the target file or folder and choose Create Shortcut or Send To Desktop (Create Shortcut). Choosing the former will keep the Shortcut in the same Folder as the target item, from whence it can be dragged into any other folder or onto your Desktop.
You can create a folder by right-clicking a destination location, choosing New>Folder, and naming it. I have one named NCTimes Recent Articles inside the My Documents folder. When I created a shortcut to this folder, Windows automatically named it Shortcut to NCTimes Recent Articles. I changed it to NCTimes Recent. You can call a shortcut anything you want by right-clicking its label and choosing Rename.
If you have a shortcut that points to a particular folder (named, say, Family Snapshots) you can add photos to the folder by simply dragging the JPG files onto the shortcut. Conversely, however, deleting the shortcut will not delete the folder it points to nor its contents.
Among the most used shortcuts are Favorites or Bookmarks, which take us to various web sites. These shortcuts likewise contain the actual file name of the target item (such as http://www.nctimes.com) and a Shortcut name, such as NCTimes. They will normally be displayed as the latter in your Favorites/Bookmarks folders. Right-clicking a site's shortcut name and choosing Properties will display its actual URL (universal resource location, i.e., website adress).
All browsers have a Favorites or a Bookmarks icon, which points to a folder containing the various sites' URLs and shortcut names. I am often asked how to move these folders into another browser and/or onto another PC. Well, most browsers have Import/Export options under the File menu for doing this. However, I find it easier to create and manipulate my own Favorite/Bookmark folders by right-clicking the Desktop and choosing New>Folder.
Rather than name a folder simply Favorites or Bookmarks, I create multiple folders with specific names like NCT Columnists, HTML Info, or Windows Vista News, etc. When I want to save a particular columnist's article, I drag the little blue IE icon preceding the page's site address (URL) into the appropriate folder. These folders can then be manipulated like any other folder, including being copied to a disc or flash drive and moved to a new computer.
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