Opening a file

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Are you one of those persons who do not know how to attach a file to an e-mail? To attach a file to an e-mail you need to know how to open a file. So please read this section carefully.

To open a file, you need to first find the file. In my computer I have more than 7,500 files. Your computer may have more files. So finding a file could be a little tricky at times.

To find anything, you need to know the general area where the thing is. To understand the concept better, let us consider a couple of examples. The postal department has the responsibility of delivering letters. To deliver a letter to Mr. John Smith they need to know where to find Mr. John Smith. Usually the sender of the letter tells the postal department in advance where to find Mr. John Smith. In fact, the sender writes down on the envelope where Mr. John Smith lives, and it looks something like this:

Mr. John Smith
59 Flower Lane
Apartment #23
Mill Hill
London NW7 2JL
United Kingdom

That's right. Without a correct and complete address, it would have been impossible for the postal department to find Mr. John Smith. Imagine if the sender of the letter told the postal department, "I know, he lives somewhere in UK."

Let's consider another example. You arrived at the watch repairer's store to drop off your Rolex watch for fixing when you discover that you have forgotten to bring the watch from home. Your son volunteers to go back to home since it is only 5 minutes drive from the store and get the watch for you. But he wants to know where to find the watch. So you tell him something like this: "It is in our master bedroom, in my dresser, third drawer, in a box marked jewelry." Do you get the idea? If you want your computer to open a file for you, you need to tell the computer where to find the file.

Now let's see how you are going to tell your computer how to find a file for you and open it. First you have to have your application open, such as your word processor or photo editing software. I have my AOL browser open. So I am going to use it to give examples.

On the tool bar of your application click on File. A drop down menu appears. Now click on Open. "Open a file" dialog box appears which looks similar to this:

All Files selected in the 'Files of type' box at the bottom of the dialog box
All Files(*.*) selected in the "Files of type" box
at the bottom of the dialog box.

Here's what you should do when this box opens up:

1. In the "Look in" box, click on the downwards pointing arrow head. Unless your file is in a folder on the desktop, or in a floppy disk or CD, click once on your hard drive. For free standing computers it is usually drive C. For computers belonging to a Local Area Network it could be another letter which you should know. If the file is in a floppy disk or CD, you have to first insert the floppy or the CD in its drive, then click on the drive letter.

2. You will see in the white area below the "Look in" box, the contents of your hard drive have appeared. Navigate through these to locate the folder which contains the file you are looking for (don't forget to scroll horizontally, if necessary) and double click on it.

3. The name of the folder will now appear in the "Look in" box, and below will be displayed the names of the files contained in that folder. CAUTION: Remember to select "All Files" in the "Files of type" box (use the downward pointing arrow head), if you want to see the names of ALL the files contained in that folder, as shown in the screen shot above.

4. When you have located the file, click once on it. Its name will appear in the "File name" box (if it is a picture, a miniature picture will also appear in the Preview Picture window, if it is enabled with a check mark).

5. Click on the button marked "Open". The dialog box will disappear and your file will open up.

A couple of tips:

Always keep your folders and files organized. That makes it easier to find them. I always keep them arranged alphabetically. Go to My Computer, open drive C or the folder you want to organize. Click on View on the tool bar, point to Arrange icons, then click on by Name (if you want alphabetical order), or select any other method (by Type, by Size, or by Date).

If your folder has a lot of files, and you know the type of file you are looking for (such as .doc, or .jpg, or .gif etc.), it is often quicker to find a file, if you turn the "Files of type" to the type you are looking for. For example, in the screen shot above, I am looking inside a folder called "webpage4". That folder not only has many files, it has files of many different types such as .jar, .java, JavaApplet, .html, .jpg, .gif etc.. Since in that screen shot I have All Files turned on in the "Files of type" box, to see the names of ALL the files in that folder, I must scroll horizontally. If I know that the file I am looking for is a .html file, I can just look for the .html files in that folder by turning on HTML Files in the "Files of type" box. The result will look like this:

HTML Files selected in the 'Files of type' box at the bottom of the dialog box
HTML Files selected in the "Files of type" box
at the bottom of the dialog box.

In the following screen shot, I am looking at the same folder (webpage4) with GIF Files turned on in the "Files of type" box.

GIF Files selected in the 'Files of type' box at the bottom of the dialog box
GIF Files selected in the "Files of type" box
at the bottom of the dialog box.

Got the idea?

If you need help using the Internet, check out the companion site:
Internet Basics For Seniors
If you need help with Windows XP, check out the companion site:
Help with Windows XP (New)
If you are an absolute beginner in computing, check out:

ABC's of Computing

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