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Helpful tricks with the Windows File Manager

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology

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Helpful tricks with the Windows File Manager

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1994, The Syracuse Newspapers

The File Manager is the most powerful part of Windows. Everything Windows works with is a file, stored somewhere on a disk drive. Anything you can do with any other part of Windows in dealing with files can be done more easily and faster through File Manager.

In a way, File Manager is too powerful; it has more options than a Pontiac Bonneville and more ways of getting you into trouble than a 14-year-old who went to the mall with your credit card.

One area that seems to cause a lot of confusion is the file-sorting option under the File Manager's "View" menu. Many of the setups I've seen are done without much thought.

You have three ways to list files (in other words, three ways the view can be sorted): by name, by type and by date. All three lists are alphabetical, no matter what.

Sorting by name seems to make sense, but it's not as handy as sorting by type. When you sort by type, you are still sorting by name within each type of file, so you get the best of both methods, so to speak.

Let's back up and explain how these two methods work.

Sorting by name puts all the files in alphabetical order, period. "MYFILE.EXE" would come before "YOURFILE.EXE" in this sorting method. That's fine, as far as it goes. But when you get a lot of files in your directories, finding the right file this way can take too much time.

That's why sorting by type works better. All the files of a certain kind are placed together. This means all the programs ("EXE" files) are grouped together, as are all the texts ("TXT" or "DOC" files, for example) - and, of course, all other types are sorted that way, too.

It's much easier to find "MYFILE.EXE" if it's located within the grouping of "EXE" files than if it's sandwiched amid "MYFILE.1ST," "MYFILE.2ND," "MYFILE.DOC," "MYFILE2.TXT" and "MYFILE3.INI." Besides, if you are looking for an "EXE" file so that you can run a program from File Manager, you won't want to have to wade through all those other files; all you want to see are "EXE" files and "COM" files, in most cases.

The third kind of sort, by date, can be handy if you are looking for a file you just created, or for a file that was created a long time ago. The newest files will be at the top of the list, and the oldest at the bottom.

Sort-by-date is also handy for those upsetting times when you extract files from a ZIP (or similar) archive, and they all land in a directory full of other files. If you sort by date, you'll usually find the contents of that archive bunched together.

Finally, to make sure your "View" settings are saved, hold down the shift key and double-click on the Control button - the horizontal gadget at the upper left of the main File Manager window. That saves the current settings.

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