More on Copying Files, Discs & Disks
We've talked recently about different methods of copying files from one computer to another. Ken Ray wrote to describe his favorite method. Windows 95+ systems have always come with built-in software called Network Neighborhood. By installing an Ethernet card in each computer and using an RJ-45 crossover cable (available at any computer store) Ken says that file transfers are fast and easy, with the equipment cost being less than one would spend on a portable disk or CD drive.
Speaking of file transfers, I've had several calls recently asking how to copy files from a 3.5" floppy disk to an Iomega Zip or Jaz disk. The answer is the old, reliable "drag and drop." From within Windows Explorer any file can normally be dragged from any location to any other location.
Assuming the Iomega Drive is labeled E:, you'll normally find it near the bottom of the listings in the left Explorer window pane. The 3.5" A: Drive will be near the top of the list. Double-clicking the A: Drive icon will cause all its filenames to be displayed in the right window pane. Use the left pane's vertical scroll bar (sometimes called the "elevator") to bring the E: Drive into view. Any or all of the files on the A: disk can be dragged and dropped onto the E: Drive icon.
To drag multiple files all at once, hold down Ctrl as you click each target file. If all the disk's files are to be transferred they can be enclosed in a "marquee" made by holding down the left mouse button while drawing a rectangle around the filenames. A handy trick for selecting multiple contiguous files is to click the first icon of the target group, hold down the Shift key, and click the last icon of the group.
Keep in mind that files dragged from one disk drive to another are "copied" rather than "moved," whereas files dragged between folders on the same disk are physically relocated.
Another frequent question has been: "Does this work the same way when copying files onto a rewritable CD?" Yes, it can be, once you've "formatted" the CD to work this way. Using Adaptec Creator, choose "Data" on the opening menu. Choose "Direct CD" on the next menu. Click "Next" and "Finish" on the subsequent dialogue boxes. Your CD can then be used like any other disk, in terms of copying data to and from it.
However, you won't be able to eject the disc by pressing the CD tray's open and close button. You'll need to launch Creator again and click on "Data" followed by "Direct CD." You'll work your way through to the "Eject Disc" dialogue box, where you'll be asked if you want to leave the disc in its readable and writable configuration, or if you want it formatted as a "read only memory" (ROM) disc. After making your choice it may take several minutes before the disc ejects itself.
If you need to copy an entire disc onto another disc, begin by placing the original in the CD drive. Launch Adaptec and choose "CD Copier." The contents of the original disc will be copied into memory, after which you'll be prompted to remove the disc and insert the blank target disc.
Duplicating disks has always been available for 3.5" floppies, using a similar procedure. Insert the original in the A: Drive and double-click My Computer. Single-click the A: Drive icon, choose Copy Disk from the dropdown menu, and follow the prompts.
Speaking of rewritable CD drives, my guess is that they will soon
become the default "second drive" in new computers and that
3.5" floppy disks and their drives will eventually join their 5.25" predecessors in the annals of computer history.
Using Your Find & Replace Options
We talked recently about locating things on your PC by right-clicking Start or My Computer and choosing Find, Files & Folders. Another way to refine your search is by using an asterisk (*) and/or a question mark (?) as a "wild card." A question mark acts a wild card for an individual character, while the asterisk represents any string of characters.
For instance, typing *.TXT into the "Named" box would find every Notepad Text file on your computer. However, typing ?A?.TXT would only find Notepad files with names like CAT.TXT or MAN.TXT or CAR.TXT. If you were to type in *O?.BMP the search would produce answers such as BLOB.BMP, GROW.BMP and CAMELOT.BMP. A search for ?O*.JPG would display results such as TOYSHOP.JPG and SOFT. JPG. Looking for *O*.DOC would generate every .DOC file containing the letter O, whereas *OA*.GIF would display answers like GROAN.GIF and BROADWAY.GIF.
Capital letters have been used here for emphasis only, and all of the above examples assume you've chosen the C: Drive in the "Look In:" box. The "Look In:" target, however, can be changed to your A: Drive, or the letter designating you CD Drive or any folder of your choosing. Beyond that, omitting the three-letter extension in any of the above examples would broaden the search to include all filename types.
Once the filename you've been seeking turns up in the Answer Box, there are various things you can do with it. If it's an .EXE file, it can be double-clicked to execute the application with which it's associated. Double-clicking other filenames should launch their parent programs and open the found file.
If it's a file you wish to work on, you can drag it onto your Desktop to make it more easily accessible. Alternatively, you can right-click it, choose Copy, then right-click your Desktop and choose Paste. This will put a duplicate of any target file on your Desktop. If you try to drag an .EXE file onto the Desktop, however, you'll just be creating a "Shortcut" to the executable filename, while leaving the actual file in place.
Other things that can be done with a found file is to Rename it or Delete it, by right-clicking its name and choosing the desired action from the popup menu. If the located filename has a .ZIP or .MIM extension, double-clicking it will activate WinZip, which will lead you through the "decoding" steps needed to make the file usable. This assumes you have WinZip installed on your hard drive, which nowadays everyone should have. You should also have Acrobat Reader installed, to handle any .PDF files you find. WinZip and Reader can both be freely downloaded from http://www.download.com/.
To Find things in most any kind of a text file, use Ctrl+F and type in a target string of characters. This will also work on most web pages you find on the Internet. If you're looking at a web page and see a word that Ctrl+F doesn't find, it's most likely because the word is part of a graphic, rather than a "typed-in" string of characters.
In many programs Ctrl+F will bring up both a Find: box and a Replace With: box. If, for instance, you're editing a document which refers several times to the "Green Valley Company" and whose name has been changed to the "Green Mountain Company" you could use Find & Replace to change every occurrence of "Valley" to "Mountain." However, this could generate errors if the document contained other references to valleys and mountains. Replacing "Green Valley" with "Green Mountain" would be the prudent thing to do.
Other Find & Replace options let you choose between making the replacements all at once or being asked at each occurrence of the target word or phrase. Other options let you specify whether upper or lower case needs to be considered, as well as how to identify special symbols and codes. More on these items next time.
Transferring Files between PCs + Printing Web Pages
Something I'm hearing with increasing frequency is, "I bought a new computer and need to know how to transfer the files from my old computer onto it." Well, the old "tried and true" method was to copy files individually onto 3.5" floppies and then copy them from there onto the new PC's hard drive. Nowadays, however, this has become generally impractical because of the huge numbers of files that many users need to transfer.
This can be done more easily if you have access to a portable Iomega Zip or Jaz Drive or a portable Rewritable CD drive. Hundreds of files can be copied to each disk/CD and the drives can be switched from one computer to another.
You can also send files to the new computer as email attachments. Beyond that, there are several "storage space" web sites that let you upload and download files at no charge. However, if you've ever downloaded files from the Internet or as an e-mail attachment, you know how time-consuming this can be.
If you do decide to use one of the many "free storage space" web sites, it pays to check them out first. You can do this by logging on to http://www.ask.com/ and typing "Free File Storage" into the search box. Click on "Web-Based File Storage Services" to get a very comprehensive review of these facilities. In any case, if you plan on using one of these services, it's prudent to put your files on more than one of them.
The most efficient method of transferring files, however, is to do it by connecting the two computers with a cable and using special software designed for this purpose. I'd recommend checking out http://www.laplink.com/, a company who's been specializing in this kind of technology for over 18 years.
Another thing I get asked about concerns printing web pages. Folks often want to print a whole page, but are reluctant to do so because so many of the pages have elaborate, multi-colored backgrounds which, if printed, could use up their ink cartridges pretty rapidly. However, both Internet Explorer and Netscape let you go to File, Print Preview, to see what your printout would actually look like.
Using Internet Explorer 6.0 and Netscape 4.76, here's what I discovered:
Internet Explorer changes all colored backgrounds to white and adjusts the text colors, if needed, to be legible against the white. Netscape, on the other hand, prints those ink-devouring colored backgrounds, unless they had been placed there as "image" files (as opposed to being assigned a "browser-safe" color with HTML coding).
Furthermore, Internet Explorer printed all the graphics that were displayed on a given page while Netscape printed some images and printed empty boxes for others. Perhaps the new Netscape 6.01 will do the same as Internet Explorer, but after trying Netscape 6.0 I quickly deleted it, as did all the critics whose reviews I read.
Getting back to those colored backgrounds; if you do want to print them, simply copy and paste the web page into a blank MS Word 2000 document and the colors will be there in all their glory.
I also get lots of questions about what a keyboard's "F-keys" are good for. These keys appeared back in the "pre-mouse" days of PCs and were meant to be shortcuts to commands that otherwise might require a lot of typing. Nowadays they mostly duplicate various mouse and/or keyboard functions. Many F-key actions are peculiar to one program or another, while a few tend to be more or less "universal." F1, for instance, brings up a Help Menu in most programs, while F7 activates the Spell Checker in most Microsoft programs, with Shift+F7 bringing up a Thesaurus. Alt+F4 will close most programs.
F3 is an interesting key. On a PC's Desktop and in Windows Explorer it activates the Find Files & Folders command. In WordPerfect it brings up the Save As command. In Corel Draw and PhotoPaint it shrinks whatever is on the screen by 50%. In MSWord, Shift+F3 will change the "case" of any selected text, going from All Capitals to All Lower Case to All Lower Case with the first word Capitalized. This can come in handy at times.
Using Windows' *Find* Options
As hard drives have gotten larger and larger, it's become easier and easier to lose things on them. However, Windows 95+ comes with a "Find" command that works very well at tracking things down. The textbook way of activating this feature is to go to Start, Find, Files & Folders. However, you can also right-click Start (or My Computer) and choose Find.
Steven Barisof wrote to say that pressing F3 will also bring up this feature. This works if you're in Windows Explorer or at your Desktop. Getting quickly to the Desktop can be accomplished by simply clicking the Desktop icon on your Win98+ Taskbar. It's the one that shows a pencil and paper on a roundish background object.
Once you've brought up the Find dialogue window, you'll see many options to help with your search. There are three boxes for typing in search criteria: Named, Containing Text, and Look In. If you know the exact name of the file or folder you're seeking, typing it into the Named box will bring the quickest results. However, if the typed-in name is off by even one character, the search will likely fail. This is why the feature often works better when only a partial name typed in.
For instance, if you're searching for a folder named TOOL-SHOP, it won't be found if you type in TOOLSHOP. However, it will be found if you type in TOOL or SHOP or TOOL SHOP. The latter will also find all files and folders whose names contain the words TOOL or SHOP, including, for instance, TOOL & DIE, STOOLS, SHOPPING or BARBER SHOP. Typing in TOO SHO would find all the aforementioned items plus others, such as TOOTHACHE or SHOWER.
On a hard drive with multitudinous files, some Find entries can generate dozens, or even hundreds, of possible results. If you're positive that the target file or folder is named TOOL SHOP, enclosing the phrase in double-quotes, i.e., "TOOL SHOP" will cause all the other TOOL and/or SHOP names to be ignored.
I've used capital letters on these samples for emphasis only. Capital and lower-case letters are treated equally unless you click on Options, Case Sensitive.
Using Date can narrow your search down considerably. If you're looking for a file that was created in, say, the last 60 days you can choose During The Previous __ Days or During The Previous 2 Months. Date also gives you the options of Modified, Created, or Last Accessed, with Modified being the default. If you're looking for a file you downloaded in, say, the previous seven days, but which you did NOT modify in any way, your search could fail if you've selected Modified rather than Created.
Another thing that can cause a search to fail is what's shown in the Look In box. "Document Folders" will often be the default selection. Having "C:" selected, however, will search your entire hard drive.
So far we've discussed looking for files and folders by their actual names. Sometimes, however, if we don't remember a document's name we may remember some of the text it contains. If you use the Containing Text box, it's helpful if you can type in something that's not too ordinary. If, for instance, you're looking for a document that contains a list of last names, using BROWN or MAY would list every file that contains those words. However, if the name SCHILDKRAUT was in the document, using it as the target word would obviously narrow down your search.
Finally, the Advanced tab lets you specify what kind of a file you're looking for. If the target file was created with say, MSWord, choosing "Microsoft Word Document" would ignore all other text files. However, if you accidentally click on "Microsoft Word Template" or "Microsoft Word HTML Document" your search would either fail altogether or, possibly, find the wrong file that just happened to contain your target word or phrase.
Accessing Email from Another PC + Find/Search Options
Many online services now let you read your email by simply logging onto their web site from wherever you happen to be. Here's an example:We've talked recently about "right-click" options. Here's another one: to open your CD drive without using the button on your PC, double-click My Computer, right-click your CD drive icon and choose "Eject."
Let's say the North County Times is your ISP (Internet Service Provider) but that you're in someone's office who's signed up with AOL. Your friend could get you online with AOL, at which point you would type "nctimes.com" into the URL line near the top of the page. When the NCTimes web page appears, click on "Web Services." This will take you to a page titled "Online Services" where one of the options is "Check Your Email." After clicking this link, a page will appear which invites you to type in your email address and password. This will take you directly to your mailbox.
This feature can also be used in other helpful ways. Let's say I'm at home and want to access my business's mailbox, which uses CompuServe. I also have CS on my home computer, but when I try to log on with my company's name I get an error message, reading, "The service is in use and cannot be accessed by more than one person at a time."
No problem. I also have AOL on my home PC, so I log on and type "compuserve.com" into my browser. On the CS home page one of the options is, guess what, "Check Your Email." This means I can access my business email even if someone at the office is online doing the same. I can't tell you how many times I've used this handy feature, but I do it every day.
All of this is even easier with HotMail or Yahoo Email or Netscape Web Mail, where logging on via another ISP is the normal way to access these services. Juno also allows access to your mailbox from another IRS.
What's that? You say this is more work than just reaching over and pushing the button? Well, if your console is on your desk next to your monitor, this is undoubtedly true. However, many PC users have their consoles on the floor, where finding the CD button can sometimes be harder to do.
Here's another handy "right-click" trick. You're undoubtedly familiar with the fact that you can search for files or folders on your hard drive by going to Start, Find, Files & Folders and typing in some "search" criteria. Well, you can open this "search" window even faster by right-clicking Start, and choosing Find.
If you want to limit your search to a particular folder, get into Windows Explorer (right-click Start, Explore) and then right-click the target folder and choose Find. Yes, you could have identified this folder by typing its name into the "Look In" box or by using the "Browse" button, but I find right-clicking the target folder faster and easier.
Speaking of the "Find" command, let's review some of its features. If you want to do a global search of your hard drive, use the Start, Find method described above, or strike F while holding down your Windows key (the one with Windows logo). A window will open displaying three boxes into which you can type information: Named, Containing Text, and Look In. Let's say you're looking for a lost file which you think is named, "Mother's Day Letter.doc."
You could type the whole filename into the "Named" box and then click Find Now. However, if you leave the apostrophe out of "Mother's" the search would fail, although it would find other files which have the word "mothers" in their names. You'd be better off just to type "mother" into the "Named" box, which would bring up all filenames containing the words "mother" or "smother" or "mothering" or "mother's." One of them would most likely be your missing file.
More "Right-Click" & "Send To" Options + "Mirrored Margins" in MsWord, WordPerfect & MSPublisher
I wrote recently about backing up files to a disk in the A: Drive and also wrote about various "Right-Mouse-Button" options. Scott Chester wrote to point out that from within Windows Explorer a file can be sent to the A: Drive by right-clicking it and choosing Send To, 3˝" Floppy (A).
Other "Send To" choices include "Mail Recipient," which means you can attach the file to an outgoing e-mail before writing it. It also means you can add the file without having to figure out your e-mail program's "Attach" or "Insert" procedures, which vary considerably from one e-mail program to another.
Another "Send To" option is "Desktop" which creates a "Shortcut" to the file and places it on your Desktop.
Right-clicking a file can also bring up a variety of other interesting choices, depending on the software you have installed. Choosing "Quick View" or "Print" means you can see what the file looks like and/or print the file without having to launch the application in which the file was created.
One of my favorite Right-Click choices is "Add To Zip." This will launch WinZip and create a ".ZIP" version (i.e., "compressed" version) of the file, which could make a file fit on a 3 1/2" floppy, that might have otherwise been too large. "Zipped" (i.e., "compressed") files also upload and download faster. If you're unfamiliar with using WinZip to compress and decompress files with, you can find an explanation in the Jan. 23, 2000 PC Chat at www.pcdon.com, where all of this year's and last year's chats are archived.
A reader wrote to say he'd used the "Web Site" feature of MSPublisher to create a home page; but complained that all the JPG photos he'd inserted had been changed to GIF images by the program. I checked this out with some JPGs of my own, and found he was absolutely correct.
JPG photos can display millions of colors, but GIFs are restricted to 256, which can make a photo look very splotchy. I have no idea why Publisher does this, and would appreciate hearing from someone who does. In any case, I find Publisher to be a very versatile and useful Desktop Publishing program, but very inadequate at creating web pages.
Speaking of Publisher, a lady wrote recently to complain that whenever she started a New, Blank Page, the page displayed a wide left margin and a narrow right margin, when she expected to see even margins all around. I suggested she go to Arrange, Layout Guides and see if the "Create Two Backgrounds With Mirrored Guides" box was checked. It was.
Someone had previously set the "Inside" margin to be wider than the "Outside" margin, which established a "bookbinder's gutter" for pages to be printed on both sides and which would be bound along one edge. After UNchecking the "Mirrored Guides" box, the "Inside" and "Outside" margin designations returned to "Left" and "Right" margins, which could be set the way the lady wanted them.
Speaking of "gutters," if you're using MSWord or WordPerfect to write a manuscript whose pages will be "book-bound," you'll find the "Mirrored Margins" settings under File, Page Setup, where options for "Gutter" settings can also be found. As for just how much space to allow for the gutter, you'd need to ask a bookbinder. I recently completed a computer manual which needed a wider than average gutter, because the book was designed to be "spiral-bound." This means the pages can be turned all the way to the back, for ease in leaning the book against a monitor while using it.
If you're writing a novel, of course, you needn't worry about formatting the pages for bookbinding. Your publisher can handle that. However, the beauty of writing a book with a computer is that you can format it in any way you want. In fact, writing one's biography, complete with photos and drawings, has never been easier.
Saving Your Files to Other Disks
Norrine Keesee wrote and asked how to save her Juno e-mail to a floppy disk. This can best be answered by reviewing the basic concept of saving one's files on media other than a computer's built-in hard drive.
In these days of hard drives which tend to be very large and very reliable, it's easy to overlook the concept of saving copies of your files to another disk. However, backing up one's files onto another disk has always been a means of saving important data in the event of a hard drive failure. Let's look at some of the other reasons.
There was a time when files would be copied to a floppy disk for the purpose of giving the data to another person. Nowadays, this is usually done by sending the person the data as an e-mail file attachment.
In any case, many of today's files, such as large photographs, are too big to fit on a 3.5" floppy. However, other methods of making back-ups can be used. The Iomega Zip and Jaz Disks have long been popular with their ability to hold the contents of a minimum of 77 3.5" floppies and the ease with which a they can be moved from one computer to another.
However, with CD-burners having come down so low in price, this definitely seems to be the trend of the future. CDs hold much more data than Zip and Jaz disks, and the CDs themselves are much, much cheaper than the other disks.
Now let's look at the mechanics of making backup files onto a standard 3.5" floppy. If you've just completed a file and have saved it on your hard drive by going to File, Save As, and naming the document, you can do another File, Save As, and "browse" your way to the "A:" drive. However, a better method is to close your finished document, get into Windows Explorer and simply "drag" the finished document's icon from its place on your hard drive onto your "A:" drive icon.
Why is this better? Well, if you normally save files to your "C:" drive and then decide to save a copy of one to your "A:" drive, the program will stay in the "Save to Drive A:" mode after the saving is completed. If you then create another document and go to File, Save As, the file will be saved to the "A:" disk unless you tell it to go back to the "C:" drive. I've seen people do this and then wonder why they can't find a document on their hard drive that they know they created.
Another reason for using Windows Explorer to drag and drop files onto your "A:" drive is that the file transfer rate is much faster. Furthermore, if you've completed, say, five documents that you want copied onto a floppy, you can drag and drop them all at once. Within Windows Explorer, simply point and click on each of the target files while holding down your Ctrl key. Then drag the whole selection onto the "A:" drive icon.
But getting back to Norrine's question of saving her Juno e-mails onto a floppy disk; the easiest way is to Copy and Paste the e-mail into a word processing document and then Save the file to the "A:" drive using one of the methods described above. This procedure works no matter what e-mail program you're using. Simply mouse-select the part of the e-mail you want to keep. Do Ctrl+C, or right-click the selection and choose Copy from the pop-up menu. Create a new word processing document and do Ctrl+V, or right-click anywhere on the page and choose Paste.
Next time we'll talk about doing this with CDs rather than 3.5" floppies.
Using Your Right Mouse Button
Nowadays it's hard to imagine there was a time when we used a computer without a mouse. Yes, the Mac had the mouse long before the PC - but having a second button on your mouse gives you lots of advantages you may not be aware of. Let's take a look at what can be done with the little rodent's "right" button.
We'll begin by right-clicking Start on your Taskbar. Next, click "Explore" with either button to get into Windows Explorer, the "file management" area of Windows where you go to move, copy, rename or delete files and folders. To delete a file or a folder, you can right-click it and choose Delete from the popup menu. To copy a file, you can right-click it and choose Copy from the menu.
If you want to place the copied file into another folder, simply right-click the folder and choose Paste. What, you didn't see anything happen? Well, double-click the folder and you'll find the file therein. If you have trouble doing a double-click, simply right-click the target item and choose Open from the popup menu.
If you find a file or folder to which you'd like to place a "Shortcut" on your Desktop, right-click it and choose Create Shortcut. Drag the Shortcut onto your Desktop. Finally, right-click it and choose Rename to change the Shortcut's label from, say, "Shortcut to mystory.doc" to just "My Story." If you then want to change the Shortcut's icon, right-click it and choose Properties, Change Icon.
If you have a Desktop Shortcut whose path to its underlying file or folder needs editing, right-click it and choose Properties, Shortcut. Right-clicking the Desktop itself brings up a number of different options for arranging its icons. Another Desktop right-click option is Properties, which gets you into an area where you can change your Desktop's background design, your screen saver and a number of other settings, including your screen resolution and colors.
If you have open documents showing on your Taskbar, the easiest way to close them is to right-click them and choose Close from the popup menu. Right-clicking the Taskbar itself brings up a variety of options, including the ability to create other toolbars.
If your word processor has automatic spell-checking, you can right-click a flagged word to bring up a list of possible corrections. In MSWord, right-clicking a word will bring up a synonym list. Right-clicks in different areas of different word processors will bring up all kinds of helpful options. It pays to experiment and learn what they are.
Now I'd like to describe one of my favorite "right-click combinations." After reading an email, I'll do a right-click and choose Select All. Another right-click will let me Copy all that has just been selected. Then I launch my word processor, right-click on a blank page and choose Paste. Voila -
the email has now been copied and pasted into my word processor, where I can adjust the margins and edit the document in any way I want.
Why do I mention this? Well, I've received numerous requests from folks to format this newsletter with a wide left margin, so they could file their printouts in 3-ring binders. Okay, I did this for a while. But then I got complaints from others who said the newsletter used to fit comfortably onto a standard "typewriter" sheet, but that the wide left margin pushed part of the text onto a second page.
Well, copying and pasting the newsletter into a word processing document not only lets one set margins to suit himself or herself, it allows all kinds of editing, including the deletion of the extraneous headers and footers that often accompany email. Try it. You'll like it.
Saving All or Parts of a File
If you're reading an MSWord or a WordPerfect document on your computer and you'd like to make a quick copy of a paragraph or two, where do you put the copied text?
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The prescribed method is to begin a new, blank document in whichever program you're using and paste the copied text into it. Finally, you would use File, Save As to give the new document a name.
Here's an easier way:
right-click anywhere on your Desktop and click Paste on the menu that pops up. An icon resembling a torn page will appear, entitled "Document Scrap." If you double-click the icon, the saved text will appear in a new Word or WordPerfect document. If you'd prefer to save this "scrap" in your My Documents folder (or any other folder) right click its icon and do your Paste there.
It would be nice if this trick worked when reading email, but it doesn't. So how does one easily save a section of email? I do it by clicking a "Notepad" icon on my Taskbar, which opens a blank "text only" document in which I store quick notes. If I want to maintain any special formatting in the copied paragraph, I go to File, New in my e-mail program and Paste the text there. Special formatting will also be maintained if you Paste the copied text into a regular word processor, such as Word, WordPerfect or Works.
Speaking of saving email, I get lots of questions regarding how to do it most efficiently. All email programs have methods of saving incoming and outgoing letters online - but what about saving them on your own hard drive? Well, Eudora, Netscape Messenger and Outlook Express do this using "Inboxes" and "Outboxes," where OE also saves copies of Hotmail e-mail. AOL and CompuServe e-mail can be saved in one's hard drive "Filing Cabinets," if it's requested under Mail Preferences.
Email can be saved one letter at a time, or multiple letters can be saved in a single document. For instance, if I get a lot of questions on a particular subject, I Copy and Paste all the letters in a single Word document, which I name accordingly. I then use Ctrl+F if I need to "Find" a particular word or phrase.
As for using Notepad to save accumulated text, it has its pros and cons. On the plus side, Notepad is a "light-duty" text editor which can be opened and closed very quickly. Since all of a file's contents are in "plain, unformatted text" it can also be easily opened by any word processor or email program. All the text is in a single size and font style, which can be Win98+ users can choose by going to Edit, Set Font. The Notepad icon on my Taskbar gets used constantly for saving quick notes of various kinds, such as taking down a name or address when talking on the phone.
How does one get a Notepad icon onto the Taskbar? I did it by going to Start, Run and typing in NOTEPAD. After clicking OK and the blank document appeared, I went to File, Save As, where I named it NOTES.TXT and told it to be Saved in the My Documents folder. Since the My Documents icon is visible on the Desktop, I double-clicked it and then right-clicked the NOTES icon, from where I chose Create Shortcut. I dragged the "Shortcut to NOTES.TXT" icon onto my Desktop, from where I dragged it onto my Taskbar. This left a copy of the NOTES Shortcut on the Desktop, which I dragged into my Recycle Bin. The end result is a NOTES icon which is always in view on my Taskbar, and which gets used many times every day.