How to get at files that aren't on your desktop

How to get at files that aren't on the desktop

If somebody tells you to open file xyz and edit it, how do you get that file? If somebody tells you a virus saves a file in c:\windows\inf, what does that mean?

The best way to understand is by doing. When you're given a file name with a path and you want to find it, you can use Windows Explorer. Windows Explorer is actually the same program (or application) that shows you the files in My Computer or your My Documents folder. It can show you all the drives attached to your computer, the folders on those drives and the folders and files inside those folders. All this information is shown on the left hand side in a collapsable tree.

First, Find Explorer

Okay,we're getting to far ahead. To start up Windows Explorer and start exploring your computer, look for an icon that looks like a folder with a magnifying glass on it. You can find it on the Start Menu. Depending on what version of Windows you have, it could be in different places on the start menu. Click start, and look in Programs. If you don't see Windows Explorer there, look in Accessories. If you look all over and can't find it, use the keyboard shortcut: hold down the Windows key (on the bottom left side of the keyboard) and press 'E'.

Once you've got the Explorer window open, you can see items on the left side like “My Computer,” “My Documents” and several others. Next to many of them, you'll see a tiny plus ('+') or minus ('-') in a box. Clicking the plus will expand the item, like opening up a folder to let the things inside show. Clicking the icon just a little to the right of the plus or minus will show the contents of the folder. Clicking a name will also do this, but if you click the name twice slowly then Windows thinks you want to change the name.

That's a quick summary of how to start exploring your computer. Be careful, those files are all there for a reason. The ones that are safe to play with are in your “My Documents” folder. All the rest you should find out about before you change them. Next time we'll get into the part about finding a file based on a path.