Using programs and managing files


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Programs and files

a close up of hands typing on a laptop

What's coming up?

When you use your computer to browse the internet, send emails, edit photos or write documents, you use software called programs.

The documents or images you create with a program are called files. You can organise your files by putting them in a folder and giving them a clear name.

In this activity, you will find out about programs and creating files and folders.

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What are computer programs?

You may have heard terms like computer program, software or applications used by people talking about computers. These three terms all mean the same thing and relate to a set of instructions on your computer that are designed to carry out a specific task. For example, Microsoft Word is a word processing program and is designed to allow you to type words into a document. Other examples of programs you are likely to use every day are internet browsers, email, spreadsheets and more.

In fact, almost everything your computer does or lets you do is run by a computer program.

icons for computer programs including Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint and email
The Windows icon on a computer screen highlighted by a blue circle

Where to find programs on a Windows 10 computer

Many programs come packaged with your computer, or you can obtain more if you need them. The programs available for you to use on your computer can be found by clicking the Windows icon in the bottom-left of screen. They are listed alphabetically, or you can search for them by typing the name of the program into the Search field.

To open a program from the list, hover your mouse over the program name, and click once with the left mouse button.


A computer file is any piece of information that is saved on your computer. There are hundreds of different file types and they can contain anything from computer code, text and images, photos or video and audio recordings. File types are identified by a three- or four-character code at the end of the filename. Common types of file you might have already come across include:

  • jpg (pronounced jay-peg), which is a type of photo or image file. For example holiday.jpg
  • pdf (short for Portable Document Format), which is a popular type of file for official documents and forms. For example agreement.pdf
  • mp4 (pronounced em-peg-4 or just em-pea-4), which is a type of video or audio file - like a movie clip or podcast. For example mymovie.mp4.
icons for different types of files, including jpg for images, pdf for documents and mp4 for audio files
An icon of a padlock

eSafety tip

Files can be edited and shared over the internet. Viruses and other unwanted software can also be shared via file transfer or saving directly from the internet or emails (known as downloading), so it’s important that you only open files that are sent to you by trusted sources.

For more information on how to avoid problems with files, see our course on Downloading and saving documents.

icons of different files, including jpg, pdf and mp4, displayed on a computer screen

Saving files

Files, such as photos, documents and videos can all be saved onto your computer. Your computer will come with a limited amount of storage space for your files, and depending on how many files you save and how large they are, you might eventually find yourself running out of storage space.

There are other ways of storing files though, and we look at another option, known as the cloud, in more detail in our Using the cloud courses.

That's a bit more advanced though, so for now, let's get back to saving files on a computer.

Saving files on your computer

It's always a good idea to save your files in a way that's easy for you to find later. This is where computers can make life a bit easier, by letting you create folders, in which you can save lots of related files. Your computer will let you name your folders too. For example, you can save all of your photos from a recent holiday to a folder named Patagonia trip.

Let's have a look at how to do that next.

a graphic of a new folder on a computer

How to create a folder

To create a new folder on a Windows 10 computer, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Folder icon in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen
  2. Select where you want to create the folder, e.g. Desktop
  3. Right-click on your mouse in the window
  4. Hover over New
  5. Select Folder
  6. Type in the folder name, and press the Enter key.
a graphic of the folder being renamed 'Patagonia trip'.
a graphic of lots of images being dragged into a new folder called 'Patagonia trip'.

Renaming your folder

If you ever want to give your folder a different name, you can. To do this, move the cursor over the folder and then press the right button on your mouse. Now select the Rename option on the menu with the left button on your mouse. This will highlight the folder name.

Press the Backspace button on your keyboard to delete the old name and type the new name in its place.

Finally, press the Enter key to finish the process. You can now drag your files into your new folder, or save them directly to this location.

Well done!

You’ve completed the Programs and files activity.

In this activity, you should now know the difference between a program and a file and how you can store your personal files on your computer. Also, saving your documents or files inside appropriately named folders means they are easy to find when you need them.

In the next activity, Computer comfort, you'll learn about how to sit correctly when using your computer, and some common hazards to avoid.

a close up of a menu with the save option highlighted