Organize Your PC With Windows Folders

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Create the First Folder

To create the topmost folder in the structure, click on "New folder." (Click on any image for a larger version.).

Windows operating systems (OS) all have default places that stuff goes into. That works fine if you have a few, or a few dozen, documents. But what if you have hundreds or more? The situation can quickly become unmanageable; how do you find that PowerPoint presentation you need by 2 p.m. or the recipe for Turkey Tetrazzini among the thousands on your hard drive? That's why you need to learn how to develop a logical folder structure. It will save you loads of time, and make your computer life better.

For this step-by-step tutorial, we'll build a sample folder structure for our photos. To begin, go to your Start button, then Computer, then find your C: drive. For most people, this is their computer's primary hard drive, and the place you'll create the folders. Double-click the C: to open the drive. At the top of the window, you'll see the word "New folder.' Left-click to make the new folder. For both OSes, a shortcut is to right-click in a blank area of the C: drive, scroll down to "New" in the popup menu and left-click "Folder" to make a new folder.

In Windows XP, go to Start/My Computer/Local Disk (C:). Then, under "File and Folder Tasks" on the left, click "Make a new folder."

In Windows 10 the fastest way to create a new folder is with the CTRL+Shift+N shortcut.

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Name the Folder

The first folder is named "Photos". Not original, but you won't wonder what's in it.

Give your topmost folder in the new structure an easy-to-identify name; it's not a good idea to get fancy. The default name Windows gives it is "New folder." Not very descriptive, and likely to be no help at all when you're searching for something. You can right-click the folder name and select "Rename" from the pop-up menu, and give it a better name; you can alternatively use this keyboard shortcut to save a bit of time. As you can see here, I've renamed the folder "Photos."

So now we have a new folder on the C: drive, named Photos. Next, we'll create a sub-folder.

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Get More Specific

This folder is named "Vacations", and will contain yet another folder.

You could, of course, dump all your photos right here. But that wouldn't help you any more than accepting the defaults, would it? You'd still have a million pictures in one folder, making it tough to find any single one. So we're going to drill down and create more folders before we ever store the photos. Using the exact same process as before, we're going to create another folder, "Vacations." This folder exists inside the "Photos" folder.

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Get Even More Specific

This is the last folder level. In these folders go the photos from each of the vacations.

Since we're a family that likes to take vacations, we're going to go even deeper into our folder structure. I've added a number of folders for our various vacation spots; the last one I'm creating is for our Disney World vacation. Notice at the top of the window, which I've highlighted in yellow, how we're in our third level down from the main (C:) hard drive. It goes C:/Photos/Vacations, and then the four vacation spots here. This makes it much easier to find your photos.

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Add Photos

After adding the photos for this particular vacation, it's a good idea to rename the pictures.

Now we're ready to add the photos to this section. I've dumped the pictures from our Disney World vacation into this folder. I've also renamed one of the pictures to "Space Mountain." It's the same principal as renaming folders; it's much easier to find a picture when you give it a real name, rather than the number assigned by the camera.

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Rinse, Repeat

Your photos are now smartly organized and easy to find. No more wondering where you put Uncle Fred's wedding pictures from last year!.

Notice in this screenshot how it placed the SpaceMountain photo at the bottom. That's because Windows automatically places the pictures in alphabetical order. Also, notice again at the top of the screen (outlined in red) that you now have a logical, easy-to-use folder structure: C:/Photos/Vacations/DisneyWorld. This will make it much, much easier to find the photos, documents, spreadsheets, etc. scattered all over your hard drive.

I strongly encourage you to make some sample (or real) folder structures. It's a skill that's easy to forget if you don't try it out a few times. Once having done it, though, I'm confident you'll organize your entire hard drive this way.