Explorer How to find files

Sometimes it can be difficult finding a particular file (a program or a document) because you don't know where it is stored. You know whether it is on a floppy or hard disk, but it may be anywhere within the complex system of folders. Fortunately, there are some tips and some tools to help you. Note - I use "C:" here for the hard disk. Most people use C, but yours might be any letter (if it isn't C you will probably know by now) .

Saving documents

A very good tip if not for finding documents but for saving them. When you click on "File", "Save" for the first time, you will be asked where you want to save the file. Save As Dialog If you just type a name in and click "Save", you do not know which folder the file is in, and so may not be able to find it in future. If, however, you are sensible and look near the top, you will see the name of the current folder (in the example above, "Windows Help"). This still might not tell you where on the disk the folder is. If you click on the arrow to the right of it, however, a list of folders will appear with the current one somewhere in the middle. The folders above the current one The important folders appear as a diagonal line as shown above, with the current folder at the bottom. The folders above the current one show exactly where to find the file, in this case "C:\Giles\Work\ICT\Windows Help". Check if this is where you want the file saved, if not you can click on the Go to parent folder icon to go to the "parent" folder, i.e. the one which contains the current folder. You can then navigate to the folder that you want.

Using the "Find Files" tool

Explorer provides a useful tool for finding a document or program. Simply run Explorer, click on "Tools", "Find", "Files or Folders..." then type in the filename. If you're not entirely sure what the filename is, but know bits of it, you can replace the unknown bits with an asterisk, e.g. "exp_*.htm". When you click the "Find Now" button, Explorer will find all the files with the filename you gave. There may be several or there may be none at all. You can double-click on a file to open or run it, or you can look at what folder it is in.

If you know that a file is in a particular folder, e.g. "Program Files" but aren't sure exactly where, first click on the folder using Explorer then click on "Tools", "Find", "Files or Folders..." again. Notice that "Include subfolders" has a tick by it. Type in the filename as usual and Explorer will only look for files that are in that particular folder or one of its subfolders.

You may have no idea what a file is called, but know some of the text it contains, e.g. you might know this file contains the text "How to find files". If so, type this text in where it says "Containing text:". Make sure you type it correctly, although capital/lower case doesn't matter. As you can imagine, this search takes considerably longer than a simple filename search, and you shouldn't attempt it for the whole of your hard disk except if you're desperate.

Likely locations for programs and documents

If you still can't find a file, there are probably only a few places you need to look. They are:

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