Discover file basics, how files are shown in the File Explorer window, various file attributes, and how files are different from each other.
- [Instructor] What surprises me is the great number of people who effectively use computers but have no clue what a file is. They might think the file is stored inside the program that created it, or that some kind of wizardry is involved. If they incant the proper spell, things will work magically. In this movie, I answer the question, what is a file. To do so, I introduce the File Explorer program. You use this program to work with files on a Windows computer. In this introduction, I cover how files are described, how to get information about a file, and review basic file statistics.
The file's natural habitat is computer storage, physically on the storage media. The file is an organized structure of digital information. If you were to look at it directly, it would probably turn you to stone, but you don't have to look at it directly. The computer's operating system organizes the storage media. Complex algorithms, electronics, and alchemy are involved to present the file in a manner that won't terrify or confuse a typical human.
In Windows, the tool you use to examine files is called the File Explorer. Press the Windows and e key combination to summon a File Explorer window. I'll be using the File Explorer program throughout this course. It may look overwhelming and it is, but its purpose is to help you manage and, well, explore, files on your PC storage system. At the top of the window is the ribbon, which lists tabs and command buttons.
A different set of buttons is found on each tab and some tabs will come or go depending on what's happening in the main part of the window. If you don't see the ribbon, then you can click this chevron, which shows or hides the ribbon. In this course, I will assume that the ribbon is always visible. To the left, you find the navigation pane. It provides an overview of popular or frequently visited storage locations and the center part of the window presents the contents of those storage locations.
When you first open the File Explorer in Windows 10, you see the quick access. Quick access isn't a place, it's a list. It shows you frequent folders you opened and files you've recently opened or saved. You might find this location helpful but I'm old school and I prefer to look at files stored in my user area. To view that location, I choose my account name from the address bar. My account name also happens to be my own name and the name of my personal storage area on this PC's mass storage system.
On the File Explorer address bar, click the first chevron and choose your account name from the list. I choose Dan Gookin. Next, I'll open the documents folder, which is where Windows places various documents you create. Now on this screen, it's empty because this is a test computer but at home, my real computer, this folder has dozens of files and folders listed. This course's exercise files are shown here. They're the only contents on this system and they should be on your system as well. If you don't see the folder, then review the movie in this course that directs you to install the exercise files.
Otherwise, open the folder to view its contents. Here you see the list of files and folders that are described by two basic attributes, an icon and a name. Both of these items are related to the file's contents, which are stored mysteriously on the PC's mass storage system. The icon tells you the file type. So, annexation outline over here is a Microsoft Word document and it shows the Microsoft Word document icon. Now that doesn't mean that this file is Microsoft Word.
It's a document, a unique file with its information uniquely defined and separate from other files stored on the PC. The name is assigned to the file when it was first created. Its purpose is to clue you in to the file's contents. So long descriptive names are best. Another file, 227B, is poorly named, and the person responsible for creating it is just being cruel. Outside of a specific folder, you'd have to open this file to see what it is and where it belongs or even if it's still relevant.
Windows handles further details about the file, which you can see in the File Explorer window. Click the view tab and choose details. Here you see the same list of files but with more details displayed in various columns of information. You see the icon and the file name, the date the file was last modified and the file type, along with its size, the amount of storage space the file uses. So the file type for the annexation outline is a Microsoft Word document.
To view even more details, right click on a file and choose properties. The general tab in the file properties dialog box lists even more file trivia. Click okay to dismiss the file's properties dialog box. The bottom line is that each file on the computer is its own unique storage container for information. Files can contain documents, graphics, web pages, random data, even programs themselves are files.
The file's kept on the PC's mass storage system managed by Windows. You interact with a file through the File Explorer program or within a program itself by using the open command. This process is covered in another movie.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Recall which tab to select to see additional details about files and folders.
- Determine the hierarchy of folders.
- Explain how to create a shortcut on your desktop.
- Summarize the steps taken to add files from a folder to the Documents library.
- Recognize the benefits of file compression.
- List three common storage device formats.