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Managing Files and Searching in Windows Vista

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  1. Buttons, Breadcrumbs, Toolbars, and More
  2. Navigating the File System
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In this excerpt from the best-selling Special Edition Using Microsoft® Windows® Vista, Robert Cowart and Brian Knittel show how to navigate Windows files, folders, and the file system itself using breadcrumbs, menus, and meta-data.
This chapter is from the book

Buttons, Breadcrumbs, Toolbars, and More

One big improvement in Windows Vista over other versions is its capability to let you know where you are in relation to parent and child windows. These breadcrumbs appear as text and icon representations of folders, windows, and services, as shown in Figure 5.8.

Figure 5.8

Figure 5.8 Breadcrumbs in the Address bar

The Address bar displays your current location, which is any disk drive, folder, or other place where you can store files and folders. As you read the Address bar from left to right, the parent location appears at the far left of the box. Each child location appears directly to the right of its parent location, and the current location you're in appears without any child locations to its right. For example, in Figure 5.8, the current location is Documents because each breadcrumb is separated by an arrow pointing to the right.

The breadcrumbs that appear depend on the folder you're in. What's more, the right arrow not only shows that the next window or service is the child of the current parent or service, but it also lets you select from a menu of related options. Let's take a look at examples of the breadcrumbs you see in the Computer window and Windows Explorer.

Breadcrumbs in the Computer Window

When you open the Computer window, the open Computer folder displays the computer media information in the right pane. In the Address bar, you see a computer icon and the location name Computer as shown in Figure 5.10.

Figure 5.10

Figure 5.10 The Computer window Address bar

The home icon appears at the left side of the Address bar, followed by the Computer folder name. In the Computer location, the home icon is a computer. If you double-click on the C: drive in the right pane, the Address bar adds the name of your C: drive—the default name is Local Disk (C:)—to the right side of the Address bar, as shown in Figure 5.11.

Figure 5.11

Figure 5.11 The Computer window Address bar with the name of the C: drive added

Note that the home icon has changed from a computer to a hard disk. The icon changes to reflect the location type. For example, if you open a folder in the C: drive, the icon in the Address bar changes to an open folder.

If there is a submenu underneath a location in the Address bar, you can open this submenu by clicking on the right arrow to the right of each location. When you click on the right arrow, the arrow changes to a button and the arrow points down toward the menu, which appears directly underneath the down arrow. Figures 5.12, 5.13, and 5.14 show the submenus for the home icon, the Computer location, and the Local Disk (C: drive), respectively.

Figure 5.12

Figure 5.12 The submenu for the home location

Figure 5.13

Figure 5.13 The submenu for the Computer location

Figure 5.14

Figure 5.14 The submenu for the Local Disk (C:) location

Menu options in bold text are locations that are currently open. If you click another location in the menu, the Address bar changes to reflect the new location to which you have moved.

Breadcrumbs in Windows Explorer

When you open Windows Explorer, the Documents folder opens by default. In the Address bar, you see that the Documents folder is your location as shown in Figure 5.15.

Figure 5.15

Figure 5.15 The Address bar for the Documents folder

The functionality of the Address bar in Windows Explorer is the same as in the Computer window—you can move to a location by clicking on the location name in the Address bar, and you can also open submenus by clicking on the right arrow to the right of the location name.

However, there is one significant difference: The Address bar shows your user profile as a location. When you click the right arrow next to the user profile name a submenu appears that lets you open your Desktop files, Favorites and Links folders, contacts, games and media folders, and searches. Figure 5.16 shows the submenu for Eric's user profile.

Figure 5.16

Figure 5.16 The submenu for Eric's user profile

User Profiles

User profiles are files that contain configuration information for each user on your computer. Configuration information includes desktop settings, network connections, and application settings. When you log in to Windows Vista using your account, Windows reads this user profile and configures your desktop, network connections, and application settings so that everything works the way you expect.

A user profile is different from a user account. A user account contains information about what files and folders your account can access, the changes your account can make to your computer, and your user preferences such as your desktop background and color theme.

Windows Vista assigns the same number and type of directories shown in Figure 5.16 to each user profile. The user profile file also remembers which files go in which directory for that user. For example, if I have my own documents in my Documents directory and Lisa has her own documents in her Documents directory, I will see only my documents in my Documents folder.

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