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Create folders to make a logical filing system
Create folders to make a logical filing system
Here's that Save As dialog box from the page about file hierarchy, which we said asked 14 questions.  In the speech-bubbles are just a few of the questions that are being asked:
What the save box is really asking you
When you first save a file, Windows and the program you are using will come up with a default name, file extension and location for your file.  Never assume that it knows as well as you do what you want to do.

So, before pressing "OK" or "Save", ask three questions:

  1. Is it being saved in the correct location? (probably not)
  2. Is the filename correct? (probably not)
  3. Is it being saved in the correct format? (probably)
Location, filename, format - the Mirror, Signal, Manoevre of file saving.


Look at the top of the dialog box: this tells you about the location of the file you are about to save.

When you go to save a file, the location which automatically appears in the top window (in this case "web_it_skills") will be either the last place that you saved something in this particular program, or the program's default location.  That default location can often be set by you, but more of that in setting options and preferences.

Web_it_skills may be an appropriate place to put the document I am typing now, but what if you had borrowed my computer in the lunch-hour and  written a letter to your share dealer ? I wouldn't want it in my web folder thank you very much, nor would you think of looking there if you had lost it. 

To select a different location, we need a quick glance at where web_it_skills fits into the computer's folder hierarchy. To do this, we can take a wide-angled look at the computer, or go step-by-step up and down the hierarchical levels. 

The wide-angle view
Throughout Windows, a downward-pointing arrow at the right hand side of a box denotes a pull down menu. Click on the arrow at the right-hand end of the white box where the folder "web_it_skills" is displayed, and you get this:

Now you can see where in the hierarchy web_it_skills is. Each level of hierarchy is indicated by a step inwards from the left. In otherwords, things on the same vertical alignment are at the same hierarchical level.  Unlike Explorer (of which more later) the pull-down menu shows doesn't indicate whether "RAD", for example, contains more than just "Bphil". It only shows the path to the file - like a family tree that only shows parental relationships, not siblings.

If I now press select "RAD" with the mouse, I get the view below.  The folders you can see in the lower window are all members, children, subfolders or subdirectories - whatever you want to call them - of the current directory (folder) "RAD"
Open one of these by double clicking, and you will go "down a generation" in the file hierarchy. Sometimes you will get no subfolders, sometimes you will get many, depending on the nature of the parent folder.  Occasionally you will see "loose" files floating around in amongst the other folders.  These are files which belong in the general category of the parent folder, but have no specific subfolder to go into. 

You may need to go up and down the hierarchy a bit to find the folder that you want.  This is where the "go up one level" icon is useful. 

Particularly when you know you are not too far away (in levels) from where you want to be, the "up one level" option is usually preferable to the "wide angled" view.  You can concentrate on scanning the lower window for the folder you want while the computer does the job of moving one level at a time up the hierarchy as you click. 
To go down a level, you simply double click on the folder that contains the child folders you need. If you get it wrong, you simply go back up one level and try another folder. 

Creating a new folder
What if there isn't a folder that suits your particular document? Then make one. 
Find the piece of toast with a snowflake on it that Bill Gates calls "create new folder"

And... no don't click on it yet.  Remember, the folder will be created WITHIN the folder that is displayed in the "Save in" field. If you don't want it there, go up or down in the hierarchy until you find the place that your folder really belongs. 

Now that you're sure that your new folder will be in the right place in the hierarchy, you can click on the "Create New Folder" icon. 

Highlighted in blue are the words "New Folder".  Give the new folder an appropriate name (otherwise you'll have "New Folder" and "New Folder [1]" "New Folder[2]" all over the place)

You still have a chance to rename it, by selecting it and pressing the function key (top row of the keyboard above the numbers) F2 or bizarrely, by clicking it once, and then clicking it again - not double clicking, but two single clicks at a leisurely pace.  I have left it as "New Folder" for no good reason at all, and having anything on your computer called "New Folder" is bad practice.

The process is not over yet.  Now, you must double-click on the folder to open it in order to place your file in that folder.
Now you are ready to give your file a decent name, and save it. 
Creating directory structure like this as you work saves much cleaning and tidying later.  It is especially important when many people share the same computer.  Firstly, it means that files that need to be accessed by various users can be found easily; secondly it means that you can put your files where you can find them again, without having to sort through everyone else's. 

Finding (or creating) a location for your file can be a bit complicated.  Choosing a filename isn't.  Just don't let Windows do it for you, otherwise you will get folders full of things called doc1.doc, doc2.doc, doc3.doc and so on. 

Most programs will fill in the file extension for you.  In other words, call a file "rabbit" and Word will automatically put the .doc on the end for you.  Annoyingly, if you are a well-meaning soul and decide  to fill in the file extension, it will then call the document "rabbit.doc.doc". 

Format is a big subject.  For just about everything you will do, the default setting of the particular program will be right for you, so a discussion of this doesn't belong here, it belongs in the section on FILE FORMATS. 

Updated Sunday November 11, 2001 4:29 PM


© Jonathan Still 2001 You may quote from these pages, but if your selection includes a reference I have made to someone else's work, please make sure that the attribution is clear. By not doing so, you may implicate me in plagiarism.