Files on a computer can be viewed using Windows Explorer. The file system is similar to an outline. The storage is comprised of folders. Each folder is created inside another folder. A folder can contain additional folders or files. The root folder is My Computer. Each disk drive is assigned a letter. The first four letters are usually reserved for the same type of drive on any computer. The other letters are assigned dynamically when first connecting to the drive. Letters from E..Z may be a removable drive, or a drive on your local network.

File Types

Each file in a windows computer normally contains a suffix (usually three letters) that lets the operating system know the type of file, e.g. which program should be used to open the file. Each file is shown with an icon that shows the type of file. There are a huge number of suffixes. Some programs use many different file types.

A few file types can be opened by many different programs. One example is a picture [.jpg suffix]. While only a few programs are used to create or modify a picture, most programs can use a picture. A picture can be inserted into a web file, word document, a powerpoint presentation are a few examples.

Some typical files. When these files are on a web server, you can either view them using the appropriate program, or save a copy to your computer. If you view the file using a program, it is temporarily saved in a temporary folder [obscure path].

Navigating the Folder and Files

You can see the files and folders on your computer using several different objects.


The desktop is the screen when no other windows are open. The desktop on most computers contains an icon called My Computer. This icon is not available on the library computers, but icons to available drives have been added to the desktop.

Windows Explorer

Save As... Button in Program (or Application)

When you save a file from an application, a temporary window opens with similar features to a Windows Explorer window. The purpose of this window is to allow you to point to a new or existing folder and give the file a name. The Up to Previous Folder button along with the show files button allows you to navigate the entire computer file system.

opens a temporary window to show a tree view of files.

creates a new folder that can then be used to save the file.

Start Button

The Start button is found at the lower left of the screen. The contents of this button are restricted on library computers. The remaining items are essentially the same as the buttons on the desktop.