Working with Folders in Windows

When you’re starting out learning about computers it can be hard to understand what folders are and how you can find and organize your files into them.

This month we’ll get you started working with folders in Windows. We’ll show you where to find the all-important Downloads folder where your downloaded files are stored, how to convert a folder to a compressed file that you can e-mail or share with someone and how to make a folder a Favorite folder so it is easier to find.

To see your Windows folders click the Start button and click Computer. A dialog opens which shows you information about your computer as well as folders marked as Favorite folders. If your dialog isn’t showing two panes (left and right) like this one here, click Organize on the bar across the top of the window, select Layout and ensure that there are checkmarks by the Menu Bar, Details Pane and Navigation Pane. If not, select any unchecked item to check it.

In the Navigation Pane on the left you’ll see a list of Favorites and a list of Libraries too. If the Favorites list isn’t visible click its triangle to open the list. Now, when you click on a folder name in the list under Favorites you’ll be taken to that folder on your computer. Your Downloads folder will be one of your Favorites so click it to open it.

Libraries are collections of folders which all have a similar type of content. You will see Libraries for Documents, Videos, Photos and Music, for example. Grouping folders into Libraries like this makes those folders easier to find. All you need to do is to open the appropriate Library list by clicking the triangle beside it and click the folder to view.

If there is a folder you use a lot, then you can add it to your Favorites so you can find and open it quickly. To do this, navigate through your filing system to find this folder. You are ready to add it to your Favorites when you see the folder name in the list in the right hand pane. Click and drag the folder into the Favorites list between two existing entries. When the mouse tool tip reads Create Link in Favorites, let go the mouse button. The folder will now appear in your Favorites.

If you need to share the contents of a folder with someone you can package up the folder and its contents into a single large compressed folder to make it easier to share. To do this, first locate the folder to send, right click the folder’s name and choose Send To > Compressed (Zipped) Folder. Windows will make a new compressed folder (called a Zip folder) with the same name as the original folder and with the extension “.zip”.

Once the zip folder has been created and if it is not too large, you can e-mail it by right clicking it and choose Send To > Mail Recipient. Outlook will open and the zip folder will be automatically attached to the new e-mail message. Provided the folder is not more than 2 Mb in size (you can see the size in the e-mail window) it is ok to send.
If the zip folder is too large to send via e-mail you can share it with someone via a site such as See issue 5 for more details on this process. Folders are easier to understand if you think of your computer being like a big filing cabinet and the folders on your computer as being like the folders in your filing cabinet – each folder can contain a number of documents. On your computer, where things become a little more complicated, is that many of your folders in addition to containing documents also contain other folders – which are often referred to as sub-folders.