Working with Windows Explorer

Learn how to work with Windows XP Windows Explorer in this free lesson to find files and programs.

Introduction

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Discuss My Documents, Windows Explorer, and My Computer
  • Navigate files, folders, and drives
  • Move files and folders
  • Copy files and folders
  • Select more than one file or folder

Introduction to My Documents

My Documents is a folder that provides you with a convenient place to store your important files and folders. Remember, you can quickly reach My Documents in the Start menu or by double-clicking the My Documents icon on your desktop.

My Documents icon

The My Documents folder looks something like the example below:

My Documents

My Documents includes a few default subfolders called My Music, My Pictures, and My Videos. Feel free to use, rename, or delete these folders.

When you save a file in Microsoft Office, the file is automatically saved in My Documents unless you've chosen a different folder or drive.

Exploring Windows Explorer

Windows Explorer is a file management tool that lets you create, rename, and delete folders. It also allows you to copy, print, move, delete, rename, and manage files.

To open Windows Explorer:

  1. Open My Documents.
  2. Click the Folders button on the Navigation toolbar.
  3. A list of folders opens in the left pane.

To explore Windows Explorer:

  1. With Windows Explorer open, scroll until you see the Control Panel icon in the left pane.
  2. Click the Control Panel icon. The contents (of the Control Panel folder) display in the right pane.
  3. Practice viewing other folders in the list.
  4. To close Windows Explorer, click the small black X in the upper right of the list OR click the Folder button.
Windows Explorer

Exploring My Computer

My Computer is another tool you can use to manage files and folders. With this tool, you can create, rename, and move folders and copy, print, move, delete, and rename files. It also allows you to gain access to other system tools.

To open My Computer:

  1. Double-click the My Computer icon on the desktop.


    My Computer icon
  2. My Computer opens.
My Computer

OR

  1. Right-click the My Computer icon (on the desktop).
  2. Choose Open.

OR

  • Open the Start menu and choose My Computer.

Copying files and folders

Windows offers several ways of working with files and folders. Copying and moving are two useful techniques.

To copy a file or folder:

  1. Open My Documents. Locate the file or folder you want to copy in My Documents or its subfolders.
  2. Click the file or folder you want to copy. The file or folder darkens when you select it.
  3. Under File and Folder Tasks, click Copy this file or Copy this folder.
  4. In the Copy Items dialog box, select the place where you want to copy the file or folder.
  5. Click the Copy button.
Copy Items dialog box

OR

  • Choose EditCopy (Ctrl + C).

OR

  • Right-click the file or folder and choose Copy.

THEN

  • Locate the file or folder you want to copy and choose EditPaste (Ctrl + V).

OR

  • Right-click the file or folder and choose Paste.

Moving files and folders

Moving files and folders is relatively easy using My Computer or Windows Explorer.

To move files and folders:

  1. Open My Documents. Locate the file or folder you want to move in My Documents or its subfolders.
  2. Click the file or folder you want to move. The file or folder darkens when you select it.
  3. Under File and Folder Tasks, click Move this file or Move this folder.
  4. In the Move Items dialog box, select the place where you want to move the file or folder.
  5. Click the Move button.
Move Items dialog box

OR

  • Choose EditCut (Ctrl + X).

OR

  • Right-click the file or folder and choose Cut.

THEN

  • Locate the file or folder you want to copy and choose EditPaste (Ctrl + V).

OR

  • Right-click the file or folder and choose Paste.

Selecting more than one file or folder

You may need to copy or move multiple files and folders.

To copy or move more than one file or folder:

  1. Hold down the Ctrl key, then click to select the files or folders you want to move or copy.
  2. The files or folders darken as they are selected.
  3. Copy or move the file or folder using one of the methods explained on the previous pages.

To select a consecutive group of files, click the first file, press and hold down the Shift key, and click the last file. All of the files will be selected.

Choosing views

You can choose how you want to display files and folders. Display them as thumbnails, tiles, large icons, small icons, as a list, or as a list with details including size, type, and date last modified.

To choose the view for your files or folders:

  1. Open My Documents.
  2. Click the Views button.
  3. A drop-down menu appears. Choose your view.
  4. A large black dot appears next to your current choice.
View button's drop down menu

OR

  • Open the View menu and choose your view.

Challenge!

  • Create a shopping list in WordPad. Type some items on your list, name it Shopping List, and save it on the desktop.
  • Open Windows Explorer.
  • Open the desktop folder icon in the left pane, and move Shopping List to the My Documents folder.
  • Choose how you want to view your files and folders: thumbnails, tiles, large icons, small icons, list, or list with details.