Organize Your Files, Folders and Shortcuts
20 November 2006 (updated)
This article explains how to work with files, folders and shortcuts in Windows.
Benefits Of Organizing Files and Folders
Each program you install creates its own folder on your Hard Drive where it keeps most of its files. This helps your PC to find the right files to use when running a program.
Keeping files organized in folders can also help you when you are working with your PC. You can use folders to sort your files into separate categories, and place shortcuts to your favourite programs on the Desktop for easy access.
Knowing how to create, move, copy and delete folders and shortcuts can help you arrange your files much more efficiently, and allow you to easily find the files you are looking for.
Double-click the My Documents icon on your Desktop. This is where your files and folders are stored.
To create your own folder, click File in the menu at the top of the window and select New then Folder. You could instead right-click on any of the white space in the window and select New then Folder to quickly achieve the same result.
You should see a folder entitled 'New Folder' appear. It should already be highlighted in which case you can start typing the name you want to give the folder, then press the Enter key to confirm. You can call the folder whatever you want, for the purpose of this example name it Test Folder.
If you ever need to change the name of a file or folder, just right-click it and select Rename.
Putting Files Into Your Test Folder
Double-click on your new folder to see its contents (at the moment it will be empty). To copy some files into the Test Folder, open a new window by double-clicking the My Documents icon again and navigating to the files you want to copy. For this example, just find some music or picture files you have.
To move these files into the new folder, you can just click and drag each one from the new window to the Test Folder in the old window. If you hold down the CTRL key as you click and drag, the files will be copied rather than permanently moved. To move a file back, just click and drag it back to its original folder.
You can select more than one file at once by holding CTRL and clicking once on each file you want. Then if you just drag one of the highlighted files they will all be moved. To quickly select all of the files in a folder, click to select the first one as normal, then hold down SHIFT and click once on the last file.
Instead of dragging, you can right-click on selected files and choose Cut, then right-click somewhere inside the new folder and Paste. If you choose Copy rather than Cut it will create copies rather than moving the original files.
Changing Folder Views
You can change how the files in a folder appear by using the View menu at the top of a window. Try experimenting with the different views (such as Thumbnails, Tiles, Icons, List, Details) to see which you prefer to work with. For example, the Details view gives you lots of information about the files, whilst the Thumbnails view is useful for collections of picture files as it displays a gallery of small thumbnail previews of the image.
Moving/Deleting/Copying Files And Folders
The menu that appears when you right-click on a file or folder gives you access to useful options such as Cut, Copy, Delete, Rename, as well as Properties which gives you more information about the files.
You can delete, cut, copy, paste and drag folders just as you can files. Remember that all files inside the folder will be moved or copied as well.
Creating Shortcuts to Files and Folders
From the menu that appears when you right-click a file or a folder, you should also see an option to Create Shortcut. If you click this option, a shortcut will be created which points to this file or folder.
If you double-click a shortcut, it has the same effect as double-clicking the folder or file the shortcut is pointing to. It is effectively a link which directs Windows to a certain file or folder.
For example, if you right-click on the Test Folder and Create Shortcut, a shortcut will appear. Shortcuts look like the file or folder they are pointing to, except that they have a small arrow in the bottom-left corner.
A shortcut like the one you have just have created for your Test Folder isn't of much use if it's in the same place as the original file or folder. Instead, drag (or Cut and Paste the shortcut like you would a file or folder, to somewhere more useful for example the Desktop. Alternatively, if you right-click a file or folder and select Send To then Desktop (Create Shortcut), this will automatically create a shortcut and place it on your desktop.
You could also create a separate folder on your desktop if you want to store your collection of shortcuts all in one place for easy access to your favourite files.
Ask A Computer Expert
Ask your computer question and get an answer in minutes via e-mail from experts at Just Answer. Choose how much to pay and only pay if you like the answer.
Get more tips in your free Easy Computer Tips E-book
Most Popular Tips
Take a screen snapshot
Press Print Screen to take a snapshot of the whole screen or ALT and Print Screen for just the current window, then paste it into an image editor such as Paint to save it as a picture file.
more Quick Tips..
Software A - Z
Internet Explorer has long been the world's most popular web browser for viewing web pages on the Internet.
Computer Jargon Box
View our Computer Jargon page for explanations of common computer and internet terms used on this site.