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Understand the Folder Structure
Learn how to use the folder structure in File Explorer to store and find files.
When to use
We use folders in File Explorer to organize our files making them easier to find and manage.
File Explorer is the beating heart of the Windows 11 operating system. It's where we store all our files, documents, spreadsheets, and folders. It's a good idea to pin File Explorer to the taskbar so it's easy to access.
Pin File Explorer to the Taskbar
- Click on the Start button or press the Windows logo key.
- Click on All Apps.
- Find File Explorer in the list.
- Right-click on File Explorer and click More.
- Choose Pin to taskbar.
- Click on File Explorer to open.
About File Explorer
File Explorer is a navigation system. It allows us to see all files and folders stored on our PC. We can even see files we have stored in the cloud via OneDrive, Google Drive, or Dropbox.
- Click on This PC.
Here we can see shortcuts to popular folders and drives on our computer. In Windows 10, these folders were all yellow. In Windows 11, they are different colors to make them easier to differentiate.
Storage drives are labeled with a letter. Our primary drive (the hard drive of our PC) is usually labeled as the C Drive. If we have any other devices plugged into our PC, such as an external hard drive we can see the drive here with a different letter assigned.
- Double-click on any drive or folder to see the contents.
When we click on a drive or folder we build a breadcrumb trail. The breadcrumb trail is the path name. For example, if we double-click on the Documents folder and then double-click on the Clients folder, the path name to this folder would be This PC > Documents > Clients. We can navigate back through the path by clicking on the folder in the path name area at the top.
We can create our own folders and subfolders in File Explorer to store our files and documents. It's good to get ourselves familiar with opening folders and navigating around the system.
- Double-click on the C Drive.
The C Drive is different from user folders that house our documents. The C Drive contains many folders with cryptic names that store our system files. Generally, we don't need to worry too much about this folder. It is important that we don't start deleting files and folders from the C Drive as we may accidentally delete a file that is essential to our system.
The Users Folder
One folder on the C Drive that is important to us is the Users folder.
- Double-click on the C Drive.
- Double-click on the Users folder.
We will always have a folder with our name on it. This is our home folder where all our personal files are stored: documents, pictures, music, etc. Each user that has an account on the PC will have their own home folder. We cannot access other people's home folders as they are locked. We need to be signed in to Windows 11 as that person to see their files.
- Double-click on the folder with your name.
We can see the default folders and subfolders set up on this computer. Folders help keep things tidy and we highly recommend using them to keep files in order. The default folders we should see are Desktop, Document, and Pictures.
Hints & tips
- Use the Win+E shortcut key to open File Explorer.
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