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How To Open Files On A PC

From time to time you’ll need to open a file on your computer. You may just want to see a picture, read a document or maybe you’re going to edit that file (make changes to it).

Whatever the reason, there are two main ways of opening (or viewing) a file.

How To Open A File On Your Computer.

The first way to open a file (be it a picture, document, music, video or whatever), is to find the file and then simply double left click on it.

If the file you want is on your Desktop, then you can double left click on it from there.

If the file is inside a folder, then you’ll need to navigate to the folder and then find your file.

Open File Explorer and use the Navigation panel to open the main folder that contains your file.

As an example, let’s say you wanted a text document that is inside your Documents folder.

Left-click Documents in the Navigation panel.

The Navigation panel in File Explorer is highlighted. Also the Documents folder is marked.
Navigating to a folder in File Explorer.

File Explorer.

We’ve already covered using File Explorer here How To Use Windows File Explorer. Whatever you’re doing on your computer, if you’re handling files (documents, spreadsheets, videos, pictures or whatever) then you really do need to understand how File Explorer works and how to use it to navigate around your PC.


The centre panel will show the contents of your Documents folder.

If the file that your looking for is inside a subfolder, then double left click on the subfolder to open it.

Once you’ve found the file that you want, simply double left click directly on the file.

A file is highlighted in File Explorer.
Opening a chosen file.

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Open A File From Within A Program Or App.

You can also open a file from within a program or app that you’ve already got running.

From within the program, click the FILE button at the top left corner of the window.

A menu will appear.

Click OPEN.

The File menu is open in Notepad and Open is highlighted
The File menu

In most (if not all) programs and apps, there is also a keyboard shortcut that you could use instead of clicking the File button.

Press the CTRL key and the letter O on your keyboard at the same time.

A standard UK layout keyboard. CTRL and the letter O are indicated by a callout.
Keyboard shortcut CTRL + O

The Open File Dialogue Box.

Whichever way you chose, the Open File Dialogue Box will appear.

The Open File Dialogue Box is just another incarnation of File Explorer.

  1. At the top of the window, you’ll see the Address Bar, which tells you which folder you’re in right now.
  2. On the left is the Navigation Panel (or pane), which you use to jump between your main folders.
  3. The middle (or centre) panel shows the contents of the folder you’re currently in
  4. And finally, at the bottom of the window, you’ll see the File Name box.
Address bar, navigation panel, centre panel and File Name box are numbered 1 to 4
The Open File Dialogue Box

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Finding Your File

When saving a file on your computer, we normally go by name and location, you name your file first and then locate it (place it into a folder). When opening a file, it’s the other way around, locate it (find the folder that it’s in) and then find the file by its name.

To find the file that you want, use the navigation panel to select the main folder where your file is located.

If your file is on your Desktop, click Desktop.

If the file is in the Pictures folder, click Pictures in the Navigation panel.

If the file is in your Documents folder (as it is in this example), click Documents.

Documents folder is selected in Navigation panel
Navigating to the Documents folder.

The centre panel will show the contents of whichever folder you clicked.

If your file is inside one of the subfolders, then double left click on the subfolder to open it.

Once you’ve found the file that you want, either left-click on it once to select it and then click the OPEN button, or double left-click on it.

The file will then appear inside your program or app.

Selected file and Open button are marked
Select a file to open.

Summary

Opening files on your computer isn’t difficult once you get the hang of using Windows File Explorer. Navigating quickly around all the various folders is the tricky part.

This also ties in with naming your folders properly. Having descriptive names for the folders that you create really does pay dividends when you’re trying to find a file that you last used perhaps a year ago. If you missed the folders guide you can catch it here How To Create, Name, Rename And Delete Folders

Image copied and pasted. Text reads "How to copy and paste in Windows 10 and 11
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Copy & Paste

Copy & Paste is a way of duplicating a file (a document, picture, video etc), and then placing the file somewhere else on your computer.

Image copied and pasted. Text reads "How to copy and paste in Windows 10 and 11

Copy & Paste

Copy & Paste is a way of duplicating a file (a document, picture, video etc), and then placing the file somewhere else on your computer.


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