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Macintosh File Management (Introduction) tutorial:

File management is one of the most useful skills for you to master as you work with computers. It takes thoughtful planning and consistent application, however the time it will save you in the long run is worth it.

Your computer is like a big filing cabinet and it will be up to you to decide how to organize the files so that you can find information when you need it. The nice thing about working with a Mac is that you have many options for how to organize and display your files.

I'm sure that at some point in time you've sat down at a computer and tried to find information and have not been able to figure out where to begin looking. If you develop a plan for organizing your files, this will no longer be a problem.

So where to start?
On a Macintosh, you can view and organize your files to suit your tastes. If you open your hard drive (doubleclick on the hard drive icon)
and then go up to the menu at the top of the screen and choose View, you'll notice that you can view your files in many ways. Your choices will depend on the system software that you are running. Basically you can view files as icons (pictures) in several different sizes, or as an alphabetical list. You can choose to have these files always show in a neat grid (snap to grid) or just as you leave them when you work with them. You can view by date, name, etc. Spend some time playing with and changing your View options to set up your computer to work the way you want it to. With the newer system software you can also view folders as pop-up windows. If you open a folder and then go to View and choose as a pop-up window, it'll place a tab at the bottom of your screen that you can click on to open and close the folder.
Let's take a closer look at your hard drive. Double-click on it to open it up. What do you see?

hard drive

If you see an endless list of files and folders, it's time to do a little organizing. One word of caution though. Some programs/applications don't work well if you move them around after installing them. So to begin with, don't move any applications until you're sure it's ok to move them. Setting up your hard drive with a basic set of folders will help you find and store things more efficiently. Try setting up your hard drive with the following set of folders:

1. Apple Extras
2. Applications
3. Assistants
4. Documents
5. Internet
6. System Folder
7. Utilities
8. Web Pages

Just about everything that you will do can fit into these basic folders. If you don't have one of the folders mentioned you can create a new folder. To do this you need to stop and look at where you are working on your computer. If you want to create a new folder on your hard drive, you need to make your hard drive the active window. To do this you open up the hard drive by doubleclicking on it, or if it is already open you simply need to click one time inside the window on any blank white space. When the window is active you should see horizontal stripes in the title bar. This is how you know it is the active window.

title bar

Once the Hard drive is your active window, go to File and choose New Folder. This will put a new untitled folder on your hard drive.

new folder

It will already be highlighted, so if you just begin typing, you can change the title of the folder from untitled to whatever you want it to be named. If you click your mouse before you start typing, you'll need to go back and click once on the word untitled until the highlighting returns and then you can type in the new name.

untitled folder

Now that you know how to create a folder you can put folders anywhere and you can even create folders inside of folders.

To help with back-up many people create a Documents folder on their hard drive or desktop and then put many folders inside the Documents folder. They make a point of saving all work to this Documents folder so that when it comes time to make a backup of any important information, it is all in one place and they only have to copy the one folder onto a back up system. That saves a lot of time and headache.

Take some time now to practice creating folders on your computer. Come up with a filing system that will work for you.

On a Mac it is easy to copy, move and delete files.

In the event that you do misplace a file on a Mac you can go to the File menu at the top of the screen and choose Find...

find files


The Find window (Sherlock on the newer macs) will open up and you can 1) type in the name of the file that you are looking for (part of the name will work), and 2) press the magnifying glass and it will search for the file. It will then bring up all listings by that name in the windows and you can choose and doubleclick on your file to open it, or you can just look to see where it is saved.

Try to see how your Mac is set up to find files.

That should get you started with File Management on the Macintosh. Understanding file management will really come in useful as you start using your computer more and more. You'll even see it being an important skill to know as you begin designing web pages. Once we get started working with Applications we'll also discuss how to make sure that you're saving documents (files) in the right place.

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