Organizing Your Data in Microsoft Windows
This Keynote Support tutorial teaches the user how to manage user data. User data is defined as the files the user creates via the application programs running on the computer: text documents, spreadsheets, images, databases, and so on. User data also includes audio and video files, and photographs downloaded from a device or the Internet.
Author: Keynote Support
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OK - let's begin! Though you may click on a link below, we highly recommend reading this tutorial from start to finish.
- Working with Files and Folders
- Organizing Your Data
- Filenames and File Extensions
- Viewing Your Files and Folders
- Locating and Saving Files
Working with Files and Folders
Understanding how Windows stores files seems to be a difficult topic for some PC users, so let’s use our imaginations for a minute. Picture a file cabinet with 3 drawers, and one drawer is labeled "Travel." Inside this drawer are green 3" hanging folders, and one folder is labeled "Germany." Inside the Germany folder are several manila folders, and one of these manila folders is labeled "Bavaria." Inside the Bavaria folder are a variety of travel brochures. Can you picture the hierarchy? Look at the left side of the picture below.
Let's suppose we actually have this hierarchy of folders and files inside of My Documents - the folder that the Windows operating system uses to store your data files. They are shown in the right side of the picture below. Notice the My Documents folder near the top of the left column. Now notice the Travel folder and its contents inside of My Documents. As you can see in the picture below, when we clicked on the Bavaria folder, which is highlighted in blue, its contents - the travel brochures - are displayed in the right column. Our four travel brochures are represented by four Microsoft Word documents (or files).
Organizing Your Data
It is recommended that new PC users only view and store files in My Documents (or Documents in Vista). Within the My Documents folder, Windows may have already created folders for you, such as My Music (shown in the picture above) and My Pictures. Typically, Windows reserves My Documents for you to use to store the files you create.
There are data files, image files, and program files. Data files are files you create, such as documents and spreadsheets. Some image files will be ones you create if they are photographs you have downloaded from a digital camera, or images you have created with a program. Your data and image files should be stored in My Documents.
Programs are comprised of many different kinds of files and most programs do not install their files in My Documents. Their files are placed elsewhere on the hard drive and should be left alone.
As soon as possible, decide how you want to organize your data. You don't want so many folders inside of My Documents that you can't remember where you stored a file. On the other hand, you don't want so many files inside of any one folder that you have trouble finding a file.
Remember, you can have folders inside of folders inside of folders, but you don't want so many levels in the hierarchy that you get lost. For most users it is best to limit your hierarchy of folders inside of My documents to no more than 3 levels.
For example, you can store all of your photographs in My Pictures, but the number of files may become huge over time. Therefore, why not create separate folders within My Pictures and categorize your photos in a logical manner. For example, create a separate folder for each calendar year. Then, inside each year folder, create folders for seasons and/or important events. See the example below of a hierarchy of data folders inside of My Documents.
Filenames and Extensions
Each individual document, spreadsheet, or photograph is saved on the hard drive as a file, and every file has a filename. The filename has two parts: the name and the extension. The format of the filename is "name.extension." You choose the name portion, but you typically do not choose the file extension.
The file extension is 3 or 4 digits in length and always follows the period. The data files you create with most programs have a file extension that is unique to that program. For example, Microsoft Word documents end in .doc or .docx (e.g. itinerary.doc) and Excel spreadsheet files end in .xls or .xlsx (e.g. budget.xls).
However, some file extensions are unique to the file type and not a particular program. For instance, images typically have a file extension of .jpg or .gif, and there are many programs that can create or modify image files. When you download photos from a digital camera, the files usually have an extension of .jpg, and one photo equals one file. Music files often have an extension of .wav or.mp3, and each song equals one file. Files that execute programs have an extension of .exe.
Viewing Your Files and Folders
The best way to view and manage your files and folders is with Windows Explorer (see our tutorial Using Windows Explorer to Manage Your Data). However, let's look at the contents of My Documents in a simple way. On your desktop, double-click My Documents; or double-click My Computer and then, from the left sidebar, click My Documents. The folders are usually listed first - with a little picture of a folder beside each one. If you do not see any folders in the Name column, click on the column name to sort.
The files are listed below the folders, and there is a small image in front of each file which corresponds to the file type (extension). For example, a blue "W" stands for Microsoft Word, and the file extension for a Word document is .doc or .docs.
From this window you can sort your files and folders by clicking on the column heading. For instance, to see the folders and files you have used most recently, click on the column titled Date Modified.
Do you see the file extensions after the filenames? If not, then the ability to see file extensions on your PC is turned off, and you need to turn it on! In My Computer or Windows Explorer, click Tools, click Folder Options, and click the View tab. Uncheck the box in front of “Hide extensions for known file types, and click OK.
Locating and Saving Files
The image below is an example of the window used to locate or save a file. The "Look in" box at the top contains a folder name. Listed in the large white area are the contents of the folder in the "Look in" box. The files are listed in alpha-numeric order, but you can click the View menu and change the way the files are displayed.
If the folder you are looking for is not in the "Look in" box, then you must find it. If the folder is inside of the white area, just double-click the folder and it will now display in the "Look in" box. But, what if the folder you are looking for is somewhere else altogether? You have several options. The easiest method may be to click My Documents from the left sidebar and drill down until you find your folder. Alternately, you can hunt for it by clicking the "Up One Level" icon or by clicking the caret to the right of the "Look in" box.
When saving a file for the first time, you need to tell Windows what folder to put it in. When saving a file, the "Look in" box will be labeled "Save in." Find the desired folder and click the Save button (where the Open button is in the example above).
If you want to save your file in a new folder, make sure its parent folder is in the "Save in" box and then click the Create New Folder button. A new folder will appear inside the white area - waiting for you to name it. After naming it, double-click the new folder and click the Save button. It might be easier to create the new folder ahead of time, but this function is handy if you haven't planned ahead.
We hope this article has been helpful. Cheers!
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