Chapter 5. Icons, Shortcuts, and the Recycle Bin

Every disk, folder, file, application, printer, and networked computer, on or attached to your PC, is represented on your screen by an icon and a name. To avoid spraying your screen with hundreds of thousands of overlapping icons, Windows organizes them into folders, and put those folders into other folders, and so on, until only a handful of icons actually appears on your screen.

This folders-in-folders scheme works beautifully at reducing screen clutter, but it means that you've got some hunting to do whenever you want to open a particular icon. You've got to open folder after folder until you corner your quarry.

Making this navigation process easy and understandable is one of the primary design goals of Windows—and of this chapter.


To create a new folder to hold your own icons, right-click where you want the folder to appear (on the desktop or in any desktop window except My Computer), and choose NewFolder from shortcut menu. The new folder appears, its temporary "New Folder" name highlighted. Type a new name for the folder and then press Enter.

Two Ways to Navigate

Windows offers two key ways to navigate your folders:

  • My Computer. Using this scheme, you double-click one folder after another, leaving a trail of open windows behind you, burrowing ever deeper into the folders-within-folders.

  • Windows Explorer. You do all of your navigating in a single window, where all the folders appear in a vertical list that looks something like ...

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