A+ Certification / Beginners

Navigating Your Computer

Being able to get to the files you need when you need them is crucial. From the command prompt, you can work with cd (change directory) and dir (directory). When you are using Windows, you can choose between Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer) and My Computer. Either tool can be used for navigation, and the reason for choosing one or the other will be a matter of personal preference. This section will look at these tools in a fresh or default Windows XP installation using the default settings, if you have changed your settings, then some windows may not be the same as I am describing. When using these tools, Windows XP has a few more options than Windows 2000.

My Computer

My Computer is the most common way people start accessing files on their computers because it's easy to find in the top-left corner of the desktop. When you double-click My Computer, a large window is displayed, listing the drives on your computer. You can then double-click your C: drive to see what files are located on that drive.

The toolbar at the top the My Computer window features navigation buttons that allow you to go back to the previous folder or up to the parent folder. There are also a set of Cut, Copy, and Paste buttons that allow you to move files between folders.

Several tasks are more easily accomplished with an additional open window, such as copying files from one folder to another. To open an additional window, you can either double-click My Computer on the desktop and browse to the correct folder or hold down your Ctrl key as you double-click a folder, which leaves the original window in place and opens a new window for the folder that you have double-clicked on.

If you don't like how the files in the My Computer window are displayed, you can use the Views button on the toolbar to change the view from Icons to Thumbnails, Tiles, List, or Details. Thumbnails will let you see the contents of many files, such as graphics, while Details view offers the advantage of listing file sizes and modification dates, which is often useful when trying to locate specific files. The choice of viewing style is really a personal preference.

The address line near the top of the My Computer window allows you to type the name of the folder that you want to go to and directly switch to it. For example, you could type C:\Windows to switch to the Windows folder.

When you select an item in the My Computer window, you see properties for that item in a panel on the left side of the window, as well as common tasks that can be performed on the selected item. This is dependent on the window being large enough to display the information for you.

If you want to explore many of the options for displaying information in the My Computer window, then open the Folder Options dialog box from the Tools menu.

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