Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.

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    Chapter 5. My Computer

    We have in previous chapters discussed the Start menu and the taskbar, which are designed for program execution and as such are employed in daily use. But the pc also contains data, which can be viewed on a more hard­ware close level. With that I mean drives, folders and files.

    Windows XP includes files and programs, folders and hyperlinks, drives and printers as objects. From the operating system viewpoint they are all objects, and each object is associated with an icon. In this chapter we will start with the system folder My Computer, which gives access to almost all of the computers data og programs.

    Open My Computer

    You can open the system folder My Computer from the the Start menu.

    The Windows Explorer program shows the contents of the folder. Try that, and then look at the contents of the window while you read my explanation.

    Figure 24. The contents of the My Computer folder. Notice the blue task window to the left.

    You now have Windows Explorer open, and you see the system folder My Computer (see Figure 24), which shows your various data sources.

    You see a number of objects, which all can contain data. Each object is represented with an icon plus some text. If you don’t have the same display as in Figure 24 (if your icons look different), then choose the the display ”Icons with file information” by clicking in the tool bar on the Display button:

    The system folder My computer is divided in different sec­tions. Let us look closer at them. In the upper right side are the system folders My Documents – one for each identified user. Remember that Windows XP is a multi-user system; each user have their own document folder. If you open your personal folder, you will find the documents that you have saved previously.

    In the folders section you see a number of sections with drives and other data sources. First there are Harddisk drive, Units for movable media and possibly Network drive. You will of course see the drives that you have on your pc, and those are probably not the same as here:

    Figure 25. The drives seeen in the system folder My Computer.

    In the bottom of My Computer you see those cameras and scanners, which might be connected to your pc. Those are also data sources of sorts, and here you get direct access to them!

    Details and into the folders

    If you select one of the objects, you will get different options to look at in the task window (the left panel).

    1.      You could read a drive’s details like here:

    2.      You could try to rename your harddisk drive. Select the C drive like here:

    3.      Then press F2. Now the text that describes the object is selected:

    4.      Now type Harddisk1 and finish with Enter. Then the drive is renamed. The harddisk still has the drive letter C, but its descriptive name is changed.

    5.      Try to open the folder My Documents by double clicking on it:

    6.      In that folder you find the sub folder My Pictures - doubleclick on the icon to get into that folder so you can move down into folders. But you can also move up again. Click on the button with the yellow folder and the green arrow in the toolbar:

    7.      Then you move one step up in the folder hierarchy – to the folder My Documents.

    8.      Select the text document hello, press F2 and rename it to hello1 like here:

    Select view with small icons

    When you use My Computer (and with that Windows Explorer), you can choose between a number of different views. There is no question in my mind that the Details is by far the most practical, so select that now:

    1.      You have the folder My Documents open. Find the button View and select Details like here:


    2.      Now you get to see folders and files in quite a different way; there are four columns with informations about each object.

    3.      You can adjust the column widths with the mouse by dragging in the border between the column headings:

    4.      The Detail view must apply to all folders. So select the menu item Functions à Folder settings:

    5.      Click on the View tab, and click on the Apply to all folders button:

    6.      Click yes in the following dialog box:

    7.      Finally click OK in the dialog box Folder settings, which then closes.

    8.      Then use the keyboard shortcut Control+ww to close Windows Explorer.

    In the future the contents windows in Windows Explorer will show all drives, folders and files in a more detailed and useful layout.

    More about Windows Explorer

    In Windows XP Explorer is the central program to display data. You use Windows Explorer when you see the system folder My Computer; you use it in the control panel and for many other tasks. Explorer is actually shaped dynamically for the individual task. This means that both the tool bar and the left window in explorer can change appearance according to your current task.

    In the daily work with folders and drives it is practical to choose the folder window in stead of the task window. Try that:

    1.    Open the system folder My Computer from the start menu. That opens Win-

    dows Explorer. Click in the tool bar on the button Folders:


    2.    Then the contents in the left window changes to folders. Before you saw a list of tasks associated with selected objects. That is now replaced with a tree structure, which starts on top with desktop. Below that you see a ”tree” with lots of ”branches”, which only show drives and folders:


    3.    You had the system folder My Computer open when you switched to the folder window layout; ThereforeMy Computer is now selected in the folder window.

    4.    The idea is that you now can navigate between the different drives and folders by using the left window. I will show you that in the following chapter.

    5.    Now close Windows Explorer with Control+w.

    You could also close with Alt+F4, but the shortcut Control+w seems more convenient to me, and it works in both My Computer, Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer, so it pays to get used to it.

    Figure 26. Windows Explorer is the real central tool, which automatically adjusts to different tasks. Here four windows are in use.

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