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Windows Explorer is best tool to organize computer files

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Posted: Monday, January 6, 2014 9:45 am

"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” said Oprah Winfrey. I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I do believe goals should be set, worked for, and attained. If one of your resolutions has been to get your computer more organized, the best place to start is creating folders to store your important documents, pictures and emails in a place where you can easily find them.

Windows Explorer is the best tool to use to organize files on your computer. Open Windows Explorer by right clicking on the “Start” button and clicking “Explore” or in “Windows 7,” click the folder icon in your task bar. This will open a window displaying all the files and folders on your computer. The left side of the window shows the storage places (“Desktop,” “Documents,” etc.) while the right side of the window shows the actual files. Click on “Desktop” on the left side of the window and the files stored on your desktop will be displayed on the right side of the page. If there are loose files that need a home, click “New Folder” near the top of the window in Windows 7 or click “File,” “New” and “Folder” in Windows XP. This will create a folder that is ready to store files. Type the name of your new folder and press “Enter” on the keyboard. Now, click and hold on the file that needs to live in that folder, drag it to the newly created folder and release the mouse button. You have just created a folder and placed a file inside the folder! Simple stuff, right?

Click “Documents” on the left side of the window. If you are like a lot of people, you will see a ton of files of all different types. When looking for a particular file or picture, you can organize these files for searching by clicking “Name” at the top of the window. All of the documents in “My Documents” will be listed alphabetically. Many times, when searching for a particular document or picture, you do not remember the name of the file but you know you saved it two days ago. Click the “Date Modified” or “Date Created” at the top of the page and the files will be arranged by date. More easy stuff, right?

How many times have you opened your email program and seen hundreds of emails just sitting in your “Inbox?” You know you need to organize these, but how? In Windows Live Mail, click “New Folder” and create a folder for all the emails from Aunt Sadie or Uncle Daryl. Name the new folder and drag and drop (click on the email and hold the mouse button and drag it to the correct folder and release the mouse button). You should see a new folder, named “Aunt Sadie,” on the left side of the Windows Live Mail with all her emails housed inside. If there is more than one email from her, press and hold the CTRL key on your keyboard and click all the emails from her. Release the CRTL button and drag and drop those emails to the new folder.

In Outlook Express or Outlook, creating new folders is just as easy. Open your “Inbox” and right click on “Inbox” on the left side of the page. Click “New Folder,” name it and drag and drop the appropriate emails to the new folder.

Remember when we talked about looking at files by clicking “Name” or “Date Created” and organizing your files? The same holds true when searching for an email or any other file. If you want to look in your “Sent Items” for an email you sent to Dr. Jones a few days ago, click “Sent Mail” folder and click “Name” or “Date” and it will be easy to find the email you sent. Other email programs work the same way so even though these directions may not exactly fit your email program, you will find the controls you need to create folders and organize your computer.

• Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services, based in Ahwatukee Foothills. Send questions to or call (480) 753-7667.

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