Since disorganized computer files may not look as serious as messy clothes in your drawers, you may get used to saving files randomly. However, you will realize that you have a digital mess when you can’t easily find a file that you are sure you saved. Thankfully, Windows offers its users a great way to organize their files and folders. 

So, how do you keep your files and folders organized in Windows? Here is a comprehensive guide on how to go about it. 

Understanding the File Explorer 

File Explorer is a vital computer program that manages how files and folders are stored and organized. This is the part where you access documents, photos, videos, and music, among anything else that you have saved on the computer. It was previously called File Manager in older Windows versions like Windows 7. The File Explorer is found in the taskbar. Otherwise, you can get it in the start menu. 

Parts of the File Explorer

To help you organize files and folders on your computer, you need to understand the parts of the file explorer. They include:

Quick Access Toolbar

Find the quick access toolbar in the topmost part of the file explorer.

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The quick access toolbar is the topmost part of the file explorer. It contains the most used commands, such as creating a new folder. Additionally, it has the most frequently opened folders. 

Ribbon Toolbar 

The ribbon toolbar is the part with the tools that organize and manage files.

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The ribbon toolbar is the part with the tools that organize and manage files. These tools include copy, paste, cut, delete, rename, and pin to quick access. To activate these tools, you need to select a file or a folder. The ribbon toolbar is often minimized, and you can expand it by clicking the right corner of the file explorer. 

Address and Navigation Bar

This is a bar used to navigate and show the address of a file.

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As the name suggests, this is a bar used to navigate and show the address of a file. Navigating is moving back or front in a folder’s hierarchy. The address shows you where exactly a selected file is stored in the computer.  

Quick Access Pane

This is a pane on the left side of the file explorer that has your frequently opened folders. You can also add other folders or files that you would like to pin to quick access. 

This is a pane on the left side of the file explorer that has your frequently opened folders.

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One Drive Synced Folders

This is used to sync your Windows PC with your Microsoft account.

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This is used to sync your Windows PC with your Microsoft account. It is an ideal way to back up files in the Microsoft Cloud memory. 

This PC 

This PC is used to help you view and manage both internal and attached storage devices.

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This folder is used to help you view and manage both internal and attached storage devices. For instance, through In this folder, you can manage your hard disk partitions.

Field used to help you find saved files or folders.

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Field used to help you find saved files or folders. You can search for the name of the file or any other attribute you remember on this bar. 

Status Bar 

Gives the properties of a selected file or folder.

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Gives the properties of a selected file or folder and also gives information about the content being displayed. 

What is the Difference between Files and Folders?

A file is an object in the computer system that stores data, information, comments, and settings. On the other hand, a folder is a pocket that holds files, although it can exist while empty. 

Say you have songs on your computer named Song A, Song B, and Song C. Each of these songs is a file. When you consolidate the songs into one place and call that place Music, this becomes a music folder. 

You can have one or more folders within the main folder. The folders can be on the same level or be nested within each other to form sub-folders. This creates a hierarchy that makes it easier for users to find the information they store. 

Organizing Files and Folders in the File Explorer

The file explorer helps store everything on the computer. However, it is your responsibility to arrange the file explorer. Here are some of the actions that you can perform on the file explorer:

Creating a New Folder 

1: Navigate to the location where you want to create a folder 

Navigate to the location where you want to create a folder.

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You can go to This PC and double click in the partition you want to create a folder to open it 

2: Right-click on an empty space to open a menu 

Right-click on an empty space to open a menu.

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3: Go to new and hover on it to open another drop-down menu where you select folder 

Go to new and hover on it to open another drop-down menu where you select folder.

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4: Rename the folder to your desired name 

Rename the folder to your desired name.

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Saving Files to the Folder Created 

Here are the steps to save files in the folder you created

1: Highlight the file you want to save in the folder 

Highlight the file you want to save in the folder.

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Click on a file to highlight it. If you want to highlight several files, select one file then use Ctrl+Shift+ either the up or down arrow based on the direction of the other files you want to select.

2: Click the home tab under the ribbon toolbar 

Click the home tab under the ribbon toolbar.

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3: Copy or move the file 

Copy or move the file.

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Under the home tab, select move to or copy to. If you intend to erase the file from its current location and save it in the new folder, select move to. Otherwise, if you intend to have the file in the new folder and have a copy in the current location, select copy to. 

4: Select choose location 

Select choose location.

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Whether you select copy to or move to, click on the arrow next to the option and select choose location

5: Move or copy to the new location 

Move or copy to the new location.

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Select the folder you create and click move or copy. The file(s) is saved in the new folder. 

Alternative Methods for Saving a File in a Folder

Copy-paste method 

1: Select the file you intend to move, right-click and select copy 

Select the file you intend to move, right-click and select copy.

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You can also use Ctrl+C to copy the file(s).

2: Paste the file(s) in the new location 

Paste the file(s) in the new location.

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Open the new location, right-click and select paste. You can also use Ctrl+V.

Drag Files into a Folder

Dragging is possible if the file you want to move and the folder you want to move it to are both visible. Say, in the picture below, you want to move the file saved in local disc D to pictures, which is under quick access.

Dragging is possible if the file you want to move and the folder you want to move it to are both visible.

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1: Click and drag into the new folder 

Click and drag it into the new folder.

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Click on the file and drag it into the new folder

2: The file is saved in the new folder 

The file is saved in the new folder.

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Renaming a File or Folder

1: Highlight the file or folder you want to rename 

Highlight the file or folder you want to rename.

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2: Select rename under the home tab 

Select rename under the home tab.

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3: Enter the new name and press enter 

Enter the new name and press enter.

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Deleting a File or Folder

1: Select the file or folder you want to delete 

Select the file or folder you want to delete.

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2: Select delete which is under the home tab 

Select delete which is under the home tab.

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Pin Files and Folders to Quick Access

Pinning your frequently opened files and folders to quick access helps you easily access them. Here is how to pin the file or folder:

1: Select the folder or file you want to pin and right-click 

Select the folder or file you want to pin and right-click.

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2: Select pin to quick access under the home ribbon 

Select the pin to quick access under the home ribbon.

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You can also pin a file or folder to quick access by selecting it and dragging it to the quick access ribbon. To unpin, right-click on the file and select unpin from quick access.

Protect Your Folders

If your folder contains sensitive information, you can protect it to prevent unauthorized access. Windows enables you to protect your folders from access by users of other accounts on the same computer.

Here is how you use a protect your folder:

1: Right-click on the folder and select the properties 

Right-click on the folder and select the properties.

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2: Select advanced under properties 

Select advanced under properties.

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3: Check the box that says encrypt contents to secure data and click ok 

Check the box that says encrypt contents to secure data and click ok.

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4: Click Apply on the previous window

Click Apply on the previous window.

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5: Windows asks you whether you want to encrypt only the folder or the folder and the files and subfolders it carries. 

Select the second option for advanced security, then click ok. 

Windows asks you whether you want to encrypt only the folder or the folder and the files and subfolders it carries.

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This encryption protects your files against people who may try to access them through another account. Windows decrypts the files when you log in to the account you used to encrypt them. For better security, you can use third-party programs that allow you to create password for folders. 

Create File or Folder Shortcuts

1: Open the folder, right-click on it and select send to 

Open the folder, right-click on it and select send to.

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2: Select Desktop (create shortcut)

Select Desktop (create shortcut).

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3: The shortcut is created on the desktop 

The shortcut is created on the desktop.

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The shortcut will have a small arrow on the left of the icon. You’ll open the folder by double-clicking on the icon. Additionally, if you delete the shortcut, you do not affect the folder or files in it. 

Use Proper Names for Folders

Use keywords to name your folders so that it is easy to know what each folder contains. The name of your folder should be one that you can remember several months later. Otherwise, you may need to open all your folders to get a file because you can’t remember where it is saved. 

Additionally, have a consistent naming system to make it easy to come up with folder names. 

Rules for Organizing Files and Folders in Your Computer

Follow these rules when organizing your files and folders:

Delete Trash 

It is possible that you have unnecessary stuff on the computer. For instance, there are photos that you may have backed up elsewhere. Such unnecessary stuff takes up space that you could have used for something else and makes it hard to organize your data. Therefore, don’t be an e-hoarder but instead let go of any data that you don’t need on your computer.

Avoid Saving Documents on the Desktop

Though files saved on your desktop are easy and quick to access, avoid saving them on the desktop. When your desktop becomes cluttered with files and documents, it eventually becomes tricky to locate what you are looking for. 

Moreover, most anti-viruses and cleaners aren’t designed to check desktop files. You are also likely to lose data stored on the desktop if you perform a system restore. Instead, save your files in the computer libraries and use folder shortcuts for easy access. 

Conclusion 

When your files and folders are well organized on your computer, it takes seconds to access a file you saved. Therefore, take advantage of your computer’s file explorer to help you move, add, or delete, among other functions you can perform on your files to keep them organized. Otherwise, use third-party programs such as TagScanner or PhotoMove to help you automatically organize files on your computer. 

Up Next

How to Organize Files and Folders in Windows FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are zipped and unzipped files?

Zipped files are files that have been compressed so that they can occupy less space on the computer. Unzipped files are extracted or uncompressed files. To zip a file, right-click on it, select send to, then compress. To unzip, right-click on the zipped file or folder, select Extract All and follow the instructions.

What are file and folder permissions?

File or folder permissions are the types of access granted to a user. Permissions are either read, write, execute or delete.

Where can you backup files stored on your computer?

You can back up your files on the cloud, either on iCloud, Google Cloud, or Microsoft OneDrive. Alternatively, use third-party services such as Backblaze or Carbonite to back up your data. Devices such as CDs, flash disks, or hard disks can also back up data, although they can be unreliable since they are prone to failure.

How can you maximize storage space in your computer?

To maximize storage space, uninstall and delete unnecessary programs and files. Additionally, use cloud storage to store some of the files in the computer, especially those you don’t use regularly.

Do files in the recycle bin occupy space on my storage device?

Files in your recycle bin occupy space on your storage device and are the same size as before deletion. If you are deleting files to create space on your storage device, go to the recycle bin and empty it to make space.

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