NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, May 2009
File Management – Part Two
Written by Ron Hirsch, Contributing Editor,
Boca Raton Computer Society, Florida

ronhirsch1439 (at) comcast.com (click to email author)

This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author's permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other uses require the permission of the author `(see e-mail address above).

This month's lesson picks up where we left off last month. We're now going to do some file operations on the special file we created for the exercise.

1. First, we're going to set up a new folder, and prepare to move testfile.txt into that folder. In the left hand listing, click once on the My Documents folder. Go to the menu at the top of the Explorer window, and click on FILE>NEW>FOLDER. Now you will see a new folder named "New Folder" directly below My Documents. It should be highlighted. If not, click once on it, and then click on the F2 key. This puts you in "edit" mode, and you can change the name of the folder. Change it to "Files for your name" (type in your name, without the quotes). After typing that in, hit the enter key. Now you have a new folder which is a personalized place for you to store your documents.

2. Next we're going to move the testfile.txt document to the new folder. One simple way to do this is to drag it from its present folder to its new home. Get the listing of all the folders on C: in the left hand window. Then double click on My Documents. The new folder we just created should be showing in the listing on the left, and also in the right hand section listing the contents of My Documents. Click on “testfile.txt” to select it, and then drag it onto the new folder which you just personalized with your name. The file has now been moved. To confirm that, double click on your new folder, and it should open and list the contents.

Depending upon what Windows version you are using, and what file manager you are using the dragging protocol may be slightly different. Generally in Windows, dragging moves the file, if you're dragging to any folder on the same drive. Dragging to a different drive, copies the file. And holding the CTRL key down while dragging, always copies the file, and using the Shift key always moves the files, irrespective of the target location. To be sure that you move or copy as you want to do, hold the SHIFT key down and drag to move, and the CTRL key down and drag to copy. This will work under any circumstance. Windows does give you a "hint" about this. If you drag and see a small + sign in next to the moving mouse cursor, the process you are doing is copying. If there's no + sign, then you are moving.

3. Next, we're going to copy this file to a floppy disk. Insert a floppy into the drive A. Left click on testfile.txt in the new folder to select it. Now, hold down the CTRL key while dragging the file to drive A. To confirm that you have copied to file, double click on drive A on the left hand listing of Explorer. It should show the file listed there. Then go back to the original folder for your documents, to see that it is still there also. If it is - you've succeeded. If your system does not have a floppy disk drive, or another hard drive, copy to a flash drive. If you have none, just skip this step

4. Since this isn't a file that you want to keep, let's delete it. Click on it once to select it on, wherever it was copied to. Then hit the delete key and OK. Repeat the process for the other location also.

NOTE: During these activities, you probably have noticed small "+" and "-" signs on certain of the listings in Windows Explorer (or any file manager). The "+" sign indicates that there are subfolders within the folder listed. To expand the listing to show them, click on the "+" sign. The "-" sign indicates that the folder has subfolders, and they are already shown. To collapse that listing, click on the "-"sign. Clicking toggles the situation back and forth. NOTE: Windows Explorer is not “Internet Explorer”, so don't get confused here.

This is the end of the exercise on the beginning basics of file management. Obviously you can modify any of the procedures given to suit your specific needs. And, if you are now adept at all the steps, you've got a good start on things. As with most things in Windows, there are generally several ways to do things. Rather than confuse things, I'm keeping things as simple as I can.

If you had difficulty following the previous steps, it might be a good idea for you to consider one of the introductory Windows courses given by various organizations in our area. When someone asks me "what do you mean by 'click'?", I pass for the moment. It's like the person who called Compaq tech support. He couldn't find the "any key", when the instructions said "click on any key", he said his keyboard didn't have an "any key."

Now that you can handle file management basics, you should consider getting a better file manager. There are two good choices out there. As with all things, if you plan on using a file manager often now, you should use a more capable program. It's like a car. If you plan on driving a lot, a new 2008 Lexus is generally more fun than a stripped down old 1965 Chevy.

I was disappointed when I saw that Microsoft has done very little with Windows Explorer. Of all the good programs MS may have provided, Windows Explorer was not one. Not to worry though - all the things you've learned so far will carry over into any file manager. There are a variety of good and one GREAT file managers out there. Do a general Google search for “Windows file managers”, and a bunch of hits will display. Some are add-ons to Windows Explorer, and others are standalone programs. If you want the finest file manager ever created for Windows, look at Opus 9 at http://nudel.dopus.com/opus9/ . Be warned however, that this is not a cheap program. It costs about $57 (US), but it is without peer. If you are an advanced user, this is the one to get. For others, there are lots of freeware and shareware programs. Review the Google search results to see what will fit you best, assuming you would like to work with something superior to Windows Explorer.

Another good (and free) choice is PowerDesk . You can get a free copy of version 7 of the program by downloading it from http://www.snapfiles.com/get/powerdeskfree.ht http://www.snapfiles.com/reviews/powerdesk/powerdeskfree.html . ZDNet should also have it available. If you like the program, you can purchase a registered version, with a few more features, and no nag screens.

With any of these file managers, or Windows Explorer, the best way to learn is to "browse around", and play with things. Click on various menu items, practice copying and moving files, and be inquisitive. And, REMEMBER, all the things you learn in these exercises apply to all the programs you'll be using on your Windows computer.

Computer learning can be likened to taking piano lessons - you can't learn to play if you don't practice. Maybe someday we'll be able to get a "chip" that we can plug into our brains to acquire all sorts of capabilities without the time consuming old-fashioned learning process. But for now, we have to rely on present techniques which take time and effort. But, in the long run, the effort is well worth it

Learning to manage your files is a very important activity for all computer users to learn. So, how about getting started on that right now. Remember, you don't always have to be doing a formal lesson. Start exploring and investigate all the areas where you haven't been before. Instead of surfing the Internet, surf you own computer. You'll find lots of exciting things. And remember, any time you want to get help on something, just press the F1 key, and a help window should pop up.

This concludes the brief learning experience of file management. Remember, you've only scratched the surface here. This is similar to learning chess. Many people think that when they have learned to move the pieces, that they know how to play chess - but they are a long way from being a "chess player." The name of the game is practice. This lesson is just a start towards a better understanding of that marvelous machine you have at your fingertips.

If you find this material useful, you may want to download this article in PDF format, from our web site http://www.brcs.org. This allows readers to keep the material either as a PDF file, and/or print it out, and place it in a loose leaf notebook for future reference.

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