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THE TGB ELDER GEEK: You and Your Files - Part 2

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VirginiaDeBolt75x75Virginia DeBolt (bio) writes the bi-weekly Elder Geek column for Time Goes By in which she takes the mystery out of techie things all bloggers and internet users need to know to simplify computer use. She has written several books on technology and keeps two blogs herself, Web Teacher and First 50 Words. You will find links to Virginia's previous Time Goes By Elder Geek columns here.

In You and Your Files, Part 1, I talked about ways to find files on your computer. Part 2 will explain more about smart strategies for saving and naming files.

Save vs. Save As

decide whether to use Save or Save As

When do you use Save? When do you use Save As? Some people think they must always use Save As, which is not the case.

Use Save when you create a new document and want to save it. Use Save when you receive an email attachment that you want to save on your computer. Use Save when you open an existing document on your computer, work on it a while and then want to save your work.

Use Save As when you open a file that has already been saved on your computer and you want to save it with a different name. If you save it with a different name, you will have the original version and a different version.

Suppose you are writing an essay about the way the light hits the leaves of the cottonwood tree across the street at different seasons of the year. You save it as cottonwood_light.doc. You work on it for a few days, each time making additions and changes to improve it. Each time you work on it you save it again using Save. You have one copy of the document that reflects only the latest version.

On the other hand, supposed you make some changes to cottonwood_light.doc and you are not sure you like the new version better than the original. Maybe you want both versions saved until you decide. Use Save As. Give the document a new name, perhaps cottonwood_light_v2.doc. Now you have the first version, and the second version for comparison.

Organize Files in Folders
Files tend to add up. It helps to stick them into appropriately named folders. (On Windows, these are often called directories.) If you have several files about different topics, each topic should have a folder.

Folders are easy to create. When you are in the My Documents folder on Windows, or in the Finder on Mac, look for a menu command that says New Folder. On a Mac, New Folder is in the File menu. Find it and select it.

find the New Folder command

A new folder will appear in your My Documents window or Finder window. The new folder will be unnamed and will look something like this.

the folder is ready to name

Notice that the words "untitled folder" are highlighted in blue. (It may not be blue on your computer, but the words should be highlighted.) When a folder name is highlighted, it means you can type something new. Type a name for the folder, ­one that will tell you instantly what the folder contains.

You can use more than one word and you can use spaces. So, "Letters to the Insurance Company" might be a good name for a folder.

Saving a File For the First Time
Think carefully when you save a file for the first time. You need to pay attention during this part of the process or you'll lose track of the file. Think about where to put it and what to name it. This will save you a lot of wasted time later on. Here's a demo.

Rename a File
There are a number of ways to rename a file. It depends on whether or not you want to keep the original and create a new one with a different name, or simply change the name of the file without keeping any other copies.

If you still want to keep the original file, plus a new file with a new name, then use the Save As technique I described above. I do this with invoices. Each month, I open an old invoice, choose Save As, give the file a new name, and use the invoice form over with new information for the new month. That way I have a copy of all the old invoices, and make a new one each month with a minimum of work.

If you don't want a previous version, but want to change the filename to something better, you can rename a file in a number of ways. I like to do it right in the Finder or My Documents window because it's fast. Here's a demo.

If the two clicks are a little hard for you to control, you can open the file and use Save As to rename the file. If you no longer want the version with the old filename, then delete it.

I hope I didn't overlook any of your questions about files and file systems. I think this addressed all the points that were raised when I asked about what you'd like to know. Next time I'll move on to another topic.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz: Penn Packing and The Joe Jones Affair


Leave it to Ronni to come up with another means of helping those over 50. I know there are a vast number of older people out here that want nothing to do with computers; I also know that they might change their minds with more of this kind of information and assistance. I'll keep and eye on this space, for even though I may know more than your average retired person over 50, I am smart enough to know that I cannot possibly know everything that I should know.
Thanks for this and keep up the good work.

Thank you for this info. I have been using 'save as' for all photos. I guess I had better rethink this.

Thank you, Virginia, for all your good help these past months. As an addendum to the above, would you please comment briefly re. the several main extension options appropriate to use for easy retrieving and viewing later, when wanting to save a downloaded file and no extension is provided by the downloading website? It's sometimes confusing as to whether to use, say, .txt or .doc or .html or .jpeg, etc. Thanks again for your consideration.

John, I believe you may be able to set the preferences on your computer so that you see file extensions. On a Mac it's Finder > Preferences > Advanced. On Windows, in the My Computer or My Documents folder, choose Tools > Folder Options > View. Then deselect Hide extensions for known file types. Additionally, if you don't see the file extension for something you download, you can use either Get Info or look at the Properties for the specific item. This should reveal what the file format is.

Ah, but here I am on the host computer in my husband's network. Three of the computers are Vista. To save a word 2007 document, I have to "Save as" in Public inside "Public Documents" in a folder. Images are kept in "Public Pictures" in a folder by year et al. Otherwise nothing is visable or usable from any other computer.

Today I tried printing. I cannot get a good image from Photoshop, nor can I get more than mush from Microsoft Office Picture Manager. Grrrrrr..... By chance I had recently built a photo album, on another Vista computer using Word. I tried using the open with function, but that didn't translate....or so the box told me. Instead I opened Word, inserted the image, and printed from that image. It came out fine, but I am very frustrated.

My husband the nerd thought it might be an incompatibility problem with the older added programs, but the brand new Microsoft Picture program produced mush too.

We are both very frustrated with the vagaries of Vista. Just today I discovered that it freezes if it is confused. Oh my......sometimes I feel older than old.

Now that I have dumpted my day's Vista problems on you, I thank you for listening.

I'm sending you warm thoughts for success with learning to love Vista, but other than that, I don't have much good advice. One thing you might do is look at the network settings—see who has ownership of various parts of it, and how permissions and access are set up for the various computers on the network.

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