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What is Windows Explorer

Windows Explorer is one of the most important elements of your operating system and understanding how it works is essential for managing your files and folders and keeping track of your personal data. You can think of all of the data stored on your computer as well as on any CDs, DVDs or USB flash drives as files stored in folders in a filing cabinet. Windows Explorer is the tool that you use to browse through these files and delete, copy, move or create files and folders. It's important to know where your data is stored and for this, it's essential that you familiarize yourself with Windows Explorer.

The quickest way to access Windows Explorer is to click your start button and click "Computer." You'll be presented with a list of storage drives connected to your computer, including the primary hard drive. Each drive has a letter assigned to it for identification purposes, although you can also label the disk if you want. The primary hard drive is usually the "C" drive while the optical disk drive is the "D" drive. If you're wondering what happened to the "A" and "B" drives, they are letters reserved for floppy disk drives which, for the most part, are no longer found in modern computers.

Browsing through the hard drive or other storage drive connected to your computer, you'll see many folders, represented by a folder icon which looks similar to a file cabinet folder. Individual files are also represented by icons which usually provide some indication as to what the file is and which program it opens with. For example, a basic text file will have an icon which looks like a notepad. Image files in formats supported by Windows are not represented by icons in most views in Windows Explorer. Instead, they are represented by small, thumbnail previews of the actual image.

You can change the way that folders and files are displayed in Windows Explorer by clicking the small, downward-pointing arrow near the top-right of Windows Explorer and choosing the display type that you prefer.

One of the most important locations on your computer is the folder containing the data belonging to your user account. You can open Windows Explorer at this location by opening the start menu and clicking on your user name underneath your user account picture in the top-right. You'll be presented with the default folders for storing your personal files, such as pictures, documents and downloads among others.


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