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Just about any time you work with an application in which you are creating, editing, or otherwise modifying some kind of content, you'll be producing and saving your work as files. For example, when you type up a report in a word processor, the report is saved as an individual file, which you can then reopen in the application to continue working on it. Or if you're editing a video you shot at a grade school recital you're saving a video project as a file too. So it's important to understand the basic concepts involved in opening and saving files. For this example I'll open the built- in application called Notepad, which you'll find by clicking the Start menu, then clicking All Programs > Accessories and then Notepad.
And a new blank document has opened for me to type in. Now in some programs to create a new document or other project file you'll need to choose File > New. But I already have one open, so I'll just work with this one and I'll just type a few words here. Now any time you are actively working on a document or project, it's a good practice to save your file periodically so you don't lose your work should the electricity go out. To save that I've written so far I'll choose File > Save. Because this is a brand-new document, I am prompted to name this file and choose a place to save it on my PC.
I'll call this one short story and I am going to choose to save this on my Desktop for convenience. And notice I also made sure to leave this .txt at the end of the filename. .txt is called a file extension. The purpose of including a file extension in the name of your file is to identify what kind of file this is so if it needs to be opened by someone else their computer has a better change of knowing what application to use to open it. Once you become familiar with the different types of file extensions, you'll then also know which application to use, in case your computer doesn't know which application to open the file with.
So plain text files are .txt, Microsoft's Word files are .doc, Adobe Photoshop files are .psd, and so on and so on. Each type of application has a certain file extension. And for the most part your PC will be able to open to open files with hidden or missing extensions with the right application. But if you have to share this file with someone running on a Mac, for example, their computer might not know what application to use. So I always leave the extension as part of the filename and I suggest you do too. So I'll click Save and now my document is saved and you can see it's sitting here on the Desktop.
Now you don't see the .txt in the name here on the Desktop. It's actually hidden but it is part of the filename, but Windows in this case is choosing to hide it. So I am going to close Notepad, and if I want to reopen the file, the faster way to do so, in this instance is to double-click it since it's sitting here in plain view on my Desktop. If Notepad is already open and I want to open a different document I previously worked on, I could choose File > Open, which lets me browse for my file wherever it is on my computer. For example, it might be inside Documents, inside Work files, or some place like that.
I am just going to Cancel. Now many applications also have a File > Open Recent command which gives you a list of your most recently opened documents so you have quick access to them. Now Notepad being a very basic text editor doesn't have an Open Recent option. But there is a slightly more power built-in Word processor on your computer called WordPad, which you'll get to by going to the Start menu, All Programs > Accessories and WordPad. Now WordPad doesn't have a traditional File menu but you can get the same options by clicking this icon here.
So you see here we have the New option, Open, Save, Save as. All the things you normally find in the File menu. And you notice that we also have our Recent documents listed here as well. So in this case, I can see that there were two documents I was working with recently in WordPad and just clicking one of them will open up that document. And you'll find that most other applications also offer the ability to open recently used documents and files. Okay, so those are the basic things you should understand about opening and saving files. What I have shown you here applies to almost every application out there. You will find some applications that save your files and data automatically and don't even offer a Save command so you can do it yourself.
But those are much rarer and you should still get in the habit of saving your files regularly while you're working on them.
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