What is special about File & Folder structure in Windows Vista

Files and Folders: Around the Basics:

In general, a file is a container for keeping things. We hear this term in usually in office, where the term file is used to keep papers containing the same information. According to computer terminology, more generally speaking, a file is a collection of similar or related information. In computer, all typed matter is stored in terms of files. Any picture or a movie, music is stored and displayed, played in terms of files. Files are opened to view information, whether it is picture, movie, music etc. through application programs.

On the other hand, a folder is a container for storing files. It is a logical group which holds files under one name. A folder can have many files and folders within it. Folders within a folder are called subfolders. If one stores files under one folder, then one need to open the folder first for accessing the required file. Any number of folders and files can exist in one partition. The partition is a logical part of the hard disk, where one can store folders and file.

Hard disk and partitions

The hard disk’s total capacity can be divided into smaller units called partition. Each partition is assigned a drive letters such as C, D, E, F and G which will go up to Z. The letters A and B cannot be assigned to partitions as they are reserved drive letters that are to be used with Floppy disk drives.

To understand the files and folders concept better, look at the following example. The example is of a Library. In a college, which I call as hard disk, we see many departments which we call them as partitions. Each department is assigned a name. Likewise, the partitions are assigned a name called as Drive letters. Now let us see our library department, which is a partition in our example. Inside library there are selves to arrange books. These are called folders, in our example. A shelf contains many racks which are equal to subfolders. The Books containing information are assumed to be files, which may be kept inside rack or over the shelf. Similarly, files may be kept inside the subfolder or inside the main folder. The files that are kept inside subfolder are assumed like the books kept inside the rack. The files that are kept inside the main folder are assumed like the books kept over the shelf.

File and Path

A file can be found and identified by its path. A Path consists of Drive letter of partition followed by folder name which is followed by the subfolder if any, followed by the filename. The letter “\” is used to separate the drive letter, folder, subfolder, and the filename. The letter “:” is used after the Drive letter. Therefore, it is “Driveletter:\Folder\SubFolder\FileName.Extension” is the actual path for accessing any particular file. The extension is used to determine the type of file. For example, the extensions bmp, jpg, gif tells the computer that the file contains picture as data. Similarly the extension doc is used to represent word documents and txt for simple text documents. The extension also decides program which opens the file.

Early Days:

During the MS-DOS days, the filename was of 8 characters in length. One could give a meaningful filenames with this length. The extension is of 3 characters. It was from Windows 95 onwards, one was able to give long filenames. The length of the filename was increased to 255 characters.

The Vista Generation:

Windows Vista, the next generation of operating system in the Windows family, introduces newer set of tools, options to its users. Among them is the look of folder icons. A folder containing files and subfolders will be displayed as icon containing few papers in it. An empty folder will be displayed without papers in it.

In the earlier, one was needed to view the size of the folder to know whether the folder is empty or not.

The files and folders will be better organized in Windows Vista, when compared to other previous versions. The user need not know the basic concept of well organizing files and folders in Windows Vista, because, it automatically creates folders in a well organized way during installation itself, under a folder, which is named with the user name. Such folders are called personalized folders. One needs only to save the particular type of file in the folder which is named for the same. The computer does not restrict the user to save a particular type of file into folder which is meant for it. One can save anywhere they wish. But, it is better to save the files in the folders which are meant for it, thus, enabling the user to organize files.

Various common folders created by windows vista

The various common folders created by windows vista under the folder which is identified by user name are,


One can store Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, Power point presentations, Publisher files etc. in this folder. One can also create subfolders to optimize the file organization more, such as one folder.


In this subfolder, one can store digital music such as songs copied from CD’s for quicker access. You can store songs downloaded from the internet.


One can save various video clipping from the digital camera, camcorder etc. One can also get video clipping downloaded from the internet and save them to this sub folder.


One can use this folder to save files and programs which are downloaded from the internet.

Windows Vista File Folder Diagram

In Windows Vista, a folder has got the following parts.

The navigation pane consists of shortcuts which are added for easier access to the folders. One can just select the shortcut, for accessing folders or programs or any documents. This enables one to access the subfolders or programs or any documents easily, by just clicking the link which is created in the navigation pane.

The Forward and back button

The Forward and back button is used to open folders which were navigated previously, in this instance of opened window. For example, if you have opened a folder earlier in the same window, then one can open that folder, if you are now in different folder by just clicking back button. The forward button is provided to undo the action performed by the back button. Suppose, if you have clicked the back button for opening the folder which was earlier visited by mistake. Click the forward button to open the folder, which you were working in during clicking back button.

Toolbar to perform certain tasks

The Toolbar is used to perform certain tasks for the files and folders that one selects. The tool bar changes its buttons depending on the type of file one selects. Suppose, if one selects the picture file, then toolbar will change its buttons to handle the picture contained in the file.

Address bar

The address bar displays the path to the current folder. One can navigate to the different folder locations without closing the current window, if one knows where exactly he wants to go and which files he wants to access. He can then type the exact path to access the correct folder or can navigate by clicking over the V button provided in the address bar.

Column Headings

Column Headings are used to sort the files found in the folder. It is also used to group the folders and files, depending on certain conditions.

The contents of folder are displayed in file list. If one needs only certain files to be displayed, then he can do so by searching that particular file. By default, here, all contents of the current folder get listed.

Search box

The Search box is used to search for a particular file or sub folder in the currently opened folder. The search begins as soon as one starts typing into the search box. This means as soon as one types “C”, all files starting with “C” will gets listed in the file list view.

Details pane

The details pane displays the most commonly used properties that are associated with the file. The commonly displayed properties are filename, path to the filename, date of creation, date of modification for the file, Author of the file and many more. One can add more properties to be displayed in the display pane.

In Windows Vista, while saving the file, one cannot use \ / ? : * " > < | characters. In addition to it, Windows Vista may limit the file length to 260 characters including the full path. It may even display an error message, when one tries to copy the file with long length names. By default, the extensions are hidden in Windows Vista. If one wants extensions to be displayed along with the file names, then he can choose to make extensions visible.

Procedure for showing extension

  • Open the folder options by clicking start > Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization.
  • Click the view tab, and then under advanced settings, to show the extensions, clear the “Hide extensions for known file types” check box.

One can rename the extensions. But, it is not advisable to rename the extensions as one may get some unexpected results. Imagine that, you have renamed systems file’s extension, which is critical to operate Windows. The computer may not start at all if done so. However, sometimes, the renaming will help greatly. If you want a file with extension txt, which opens in the notepad usually, to be opened in Internet Explorer, One method is to change program associations. The second method is to rename the extension to htm or html. One can rename the extensions by selecting rename in the menu that appears when the file object is right clicked. Just delete only the extension and press enter. The extension will be changed. To rename extensions, one should make extensions visible.

Vista helps to keep the files in organized manner

Windows Vista, the next generation operating system, helps to keep the files in organized manner. But, it will not force the user to do so. The ability to search subfolders through the search box in the current folder is another feature, which is not seen in the previous versions. Windows Vista has improved a lot in terms of files and folders when compared to previous versions.

Check out more topics on windows from here,

Advantages and Disadvantages of Windows 7

16 Reasons Why Should You Select Windows Vista

Advantages and Disadavantages of Windows Vista

Advice on Upgrading to Windows Vista

All about Windows Vista Migration

Wanna make Windows XP look like Vista ?

Change Windows Vista Appearance

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