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Whip Your Files Into Shape in Windows 8

Whip Your Files Into Shape in Windows 8

One of the obvious differences between Windows 8 and previous versions is the replacement of the Start menu with a Search charm. Some users find the change irksome. However, the robustness of the Search charm makes file folder hierarchy, conventions and organization less important than in older versions of Windows. Files can be found quickly through Search instead of by browsing through folders.

There are three big changes in Windows 8, the latest version of Microsoft's operating system. All three affect how you organize your computer.

First, Microsoft replaces its Start menu search box with a new, always accessible Search charm.

Second, the Windows Explorer file browser gains ribbon functions like previewing and archiving.

Third, Microsoft actively promotes the integration of SkyDrive, its cloud-based file storage product.

About the Reorg

The old search box that used to reside in earlier incarnations of the Windows Start menu is gone, replaced with a more graphical, icon-driven Search charm. Charms are the Start bar-like icons that appear to slide in from the right of the screen.

Windows Explorer, the file browser, now includes an in-depth ribbon containing file management functions like preview, pinning important or active files to the top, and archiving.

SkyDrive allows you to access files from multiple devices by storing the files remotely.

Here's how to get your Windows 8 file organization up to speed.

Step 1

Explore the Search charm by swiping or placing your mouse in the bottom right corner of the screen and clicking on the Search icon. You'll see a search text box appear along with icons for apps, accessories and system tools.

Click on the File Explorer app icon to launch File Explorer. Browse libraries and files by clicking on them, as you would in earlier version of Windows.

Step 2

Look at the file management ribbon in File Explorer. Choose the View tab from the file menu to see different sized icons, navigation panes and so on.

The Home tab includes copy and paste, rename and so on.

Manage lets you choose a save location. Other file management activities are available here too.

Step 3

Get a handle on Libraries by using the File Explorer to browse the assets.

Add preexisting assets folders to a library by browsing to the folder from within File Explorer and right-clicking it. Choose Open Folder Location. The actual folder location will appear. Then right-click the folder and choose Include in Library and select the library you'd like the folder to be a part of -- for example, Pictures.

Tip: The robustness of the Search charm makes file folder hierarchy, conventions and organization less important than in older versions of Windows. Files can be found quickly through Search instead of by browsing through folders.

Step 4

Return to the Start page by swiping or placing your mouse at the bottom right of the screen and then clicking on the Start charm.

Click on the Windows 8 Start page's SkyDrive icon and follow the prompts to launch SkyDrive.

SkyDrive allows you to store files in the cloud and access them from multiple computers. Upload a file to see how it works.

Step 5

Install SkyDrive's Windows desktop app by browsing to the SkyDrive website with Internet Explorer, and selecting Windows Desktop and then Download Now.

Tip: Note that this Step 5 app is not the default SkyDrive app from Step 4 that appears natively within Windows 8's Start page tiles. That native "lite" app doesn't show your cloud files within Windows Explorer, the file browser.

Follow the prompts to install the new SkyDrive app. Then return to File Explorer by launching the Search charm. Enter the term "file explorer," and the File Explorer icon will appear.

Click on that icon and you'll see File Explorer launch. SkyDrive will appear as a favorite drive.

Treat the SkyDrive drive as a folder or drive, and drag and drop files to and from it to test.

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Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.


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