Raise Your Windows IQ: How to Save and Retrieve Attachments

So far this week you've learned Windows basics like the difference between files and folders, when to single-click or double-click, and the best power settings for your laptop.

Today, let's look at a very common source of confusion for novice users: saving and retrieving file attachments.

Specifically, I routinely field calls from friends and family members who've saved a file received as an e-mail attachment, but now can't find that file.

Why? Usually because they didn't pay attention to where they were saving it. Or because they thought all files automatically get saved in the Documents (or My Documents) folder--but that's not always the case.

Here's a prime example: Someone e-mails you a Word document. You open it, do whatever needs doing with it, then click Save. Later, you want to send that file to someone else--but you can't find it. The secondary problem: You're not even sure what the file is called.

First things first: The first time you save a document, always use Save As, then navigate to the folder you want to use. See, when you open an e-mail attachment in, say, Word, it's actually loading from an obscure, impossible-to-find Windows temp folder. And that's where it'll end up if all you do is click Save when you're done. Chances of finding it again later: zero.

Next: Pay attention to filenames. And feel free to rename your document (which you can do after clicking Save As) to something you'll more easily recognize and remember later.

All this goes back to what I suggested the other day: You'll have a much easier time using Windows if you learn, understand, and make good use of folders. A great place to start is Managing Files and Folders in Windows 7, a free chapter excerpted from the book, Microsoft Windows 7 On Demand. (Note that much of the material applies to earlier versions of Windows as well.)

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