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Saving Your Stuff

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The Save Tutorial

Writing is the main thing most people do with a computer. In Windows, you probably use a full-horsepower word processor, something like Microsoft Word or WordPerfect. Windows comes with a low-horsepower word processor called WordPad.

Important Point

Always save your stuff. Most people save only when they think that something is worth saving. Wrong! Save every few minutes or so; you never know when a computer will up and die or little Jesse will trip over the power strip.

  • Open WordPad.

From the Start Thing menu, choose Programs—Accessories—WordPad. (You may have to click on the Show More buttons to see WordPad; refer to Chapter 2, "Running Your Programs.") The WordPad window appears onscreen, as shown in Figure 3.1.

Figure 3.1
A. Document means that nothing has been saved.
B. Toolbar, with buttons for New, Open, Save, Print, and other commands.
C. Format bar (formatting commands).
D. Ruler.
E. Document window.
F. Resize the window so that you see the right margin on the ruler.

  • Type some prose.

There's no point in trying the Save command unless you have something worthy of saving. If you're dry, type this text:

It's not as tough as it was in the early days. Back then, just getting from point A to point B involved lots of planning, provisions, supplies and a huge effort for all involved. But now, thanks to teleportation, taking a trip is as easy as plunking a coin into a vending machine. This is a wonderful scientific advancement—a boon to mankind. Alas, it's opened the door for many a prank. Beaming someone into or out of a shower is illegal in several states. And you need a zoo license to beam large animals anywhere. Still, it's surprising there are no laws against beaming hornet's nests. Give it time.

You don't have to type all that—you can type something you made up yourself. Just make sure that you type something in the document window.

  • Choose FileSave As.

The Save As dialog box appears.

Windows uses several subtly different types of Save As dialog boxes. Each of them has the same basic features, but some are more fancy than others. You can use Figure 3.2 to help you sort things out; the Save As dialog box that WordPad uses is the first one.

Figure 3.2
Save As dialog box variations.
A. Choose another folder or disk drive from here.
B. The folder in which you're saving this document.
C. The contents of the current folder.
D. Your file's name.
E. The type of file you're saving.
F. Go "up" one directory.
G. Create a new folder.
H. Set the way icons are viewed.
I. Click to save.
J. Popular file saving places.

Your duty in the Save As dialog box (no matter which one appears) is to assign your document a name and a storage place on disk.

  • Find a folder for your document.

The Save As dialog box is showing you the My Documents folder, which is where WordPad likes to save its documents—unless told otherwise. That's fine for this tutorial. For other projects, you undoubtedly want to save your stuff elsewhere, in a specific folder.

If you see another folder listed by the Save In drop-down list, choose My Documents from the list instead.

Folders help you stay organized.

  • Find Document in the File Name input box.

In the File Name input box, you type your file's name. Right now it says Document. That's the name WordPad gives all its unsaved documents. (The Notepad and Paint programs use Untitled instead.)

You need to give your document its own name—hopefully, something more clever and descriptive than Document.

  • Type Teleportation in the File Name box.

The name Document is highlighted, so your text replaces it.

If Document is not highlighted, press Alt+N. That keyboard shortcut focuses the attention of Windows on the File Name input box.

If you make a typing mistake, press the Backspace key to back up and erase.

  • Click the Save button with the mouse.

Or you can just press the Enter key. This step saves the document to disk.

  • Notice the file's name on the title bar.

That's your clue that the file has been saved.

Keep WordPad and this document open for the remaining tutorials in this chapter.

  • After you save your document, you can continue working and saving, print, open or create another document, or quit the program.

  • Continue to save your document as you work on it. The next section tells you how.

  • Older Windows programs might use a similar Save As dialog box, one that lacks the Save In column of goodies on the left side. Don't freak out if you encounter such an antique.

Important Point - Filenames Good, Bad, and Ugly

Windows allows you to name your files just about anything. You can use numbers, letters, spaces, and a smattering of symbols to creatively endow your document (or graphics image or whatever) with a proper name. Even so, the best filenames are short and descriptive.

Here are some good filenames:

    Report 5-99

    Cancellation notice

    Umberto's - restaurant review (yuck)

    More useless charts for the meeting


Filenames can be in upper- or lowercase, start with a number or letter, and be as long as 255 characters (although shorter is better).

You can use just about any symbol on the keyboard for a filename, although you cannot use the following characters:

" > * ? / : \ | <

If you try to use one of these characters, Windows does not let you save the file; either you see an error message telling you what's wrong or Windows just becomes stubborn and doesn't save the file without telling you what you've done wrong.

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