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A beginner's guide to storing documents on your computer

01 September 2015 ( 25 February 2020 )

New to compuing? Never lose a computer document again with our useful tips on organising, storing and creating folders for your computer files.

Computer document storage
Your computer is like a huge filing cabinet - where you can create folders and subfolders for storing information

Not sure where you saved your tax information? Can’t find the photos from your holiday with the grandkids? If your files aren’t stored properly on your computer, you can waste days searching for those important documents.

So think of your computer like a huge filing cabinet. On both Mac and Windows-based computers, you can easily create folders and subfolders to store all your information and keep it at your fingertips.

The trick is to know where to start. Think of the built-in Documents folder as your filing cabinet. Then divide it into ‘drawers’ by creating separate general folders within the larger Documents folder. For example, you might want to create:

• A Finances folder for your spreadsheets and other financial information;

• A Work folder for work-related documents; and

• A Family folder for your family photos, birth certificates and other important family documents.

To organise your ‘filing cabinet’ further, you can create subfolders within these folders. For example, photos from last Christmas could be saved in your Family folder by year and event – Family/Photos/2014 Christmas.

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Creating folders on a Windows computer

If you’re using a Windows-based computer, you’ll see a listing for “Documents” when you click the Start menu. Click that and you’ll see it already contains several folders, including Downloads, My Pictures and others. 

While these are useful, it’s better to customise the larger Documents folder for your personal needs. To do this:

• Click “Make a New Folder” under “File and Folder Tasks”.

• The new folder will be named “New Folder.” Type in a name for your folder to replace it.

• If you want to create subfolders within your new folder, be sure to open the new folder first.

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Creating folders on a Mac

On a Mac, Finder is the master filing cabinet where everything is stored. To create new folders in Finder, click on the icon that looks like a gear at the top of the display or go to the File menu in the top left-hand corner of your screen. In either case, select “New Folder” and give it a name.

If you’ve already created documents or stored photos and want to organise them, you can easily move them into your new folders. 

Highlight the file you want to move by left clicking your mouse and holding the button down. Drag the file to the folder you want to move it to. When you lift your finger, the file will ‘drop’ into the folder. 

This method works on both a Mac and a Windows computer.

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Backing up your files

If your documents, photos and other files are important enough to organise, they’re important enough to back up. 

Backing up your files means storing them in a location separate from your computer’s hard drive – you can learn how with our guide to backing up data.

Creating folders and backing up your files will be second nature after you’ve done it once or twice. Get into the habit now and never worry again about trying to track down that important document at the last minute.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.