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Looking for your files?

I can’t find the file I just saved.  What do I do???

  1. Were you on this computer/device when you saved it? Generally, if you were not on this device, then it won’t be there. Consider also if you saved it to a USB or external drive, or the Cloud because these show up differently on a computer. 
  2. What program did you save it from? If you open up that program, file> open, sometimes you will see Open Recent, and you will see it. If not, just hit open, and it’ll probably show you the file and where you saved it. Most of these will show you where it last saved to. Some just show you where it typically saves to. 
  3. If it doesn’t appear there, are you sure you saved it? A lot of programs will give you a notification, are you sure you want to quit without saving? Assuming you hit yes, no problem, it should be there. If you hit no, it won’t be there. There are some programs, usually older like Notepad that won’t prompt you. 
  4. Let’s talk about where the program tends to save things. This is all the files that are in your user profile. If you did this logged in as someone else, you should log in as the other person. Most programs save in here, though not all. If you downloaded something from the Internet, it will usually save to Downloads. If you have a Word document, it will usually save to Documents. If you are working with pictures, it will usually save to Pictures in this folder. Sometimes you have to go further into the folder, like iTunes makes a folder in Music. Be warned, however, that some programs don’t want you to be able to find the files, and so will scramble them so you can’t find them in this way or the following way. If that’s the case, you should still be able to find it in the program.
  5. I don’t know what the file is called… Well, when files are renamed, it should tell you. But if you know roughly the time you last saved it, then you can sort the files by saved date. This means that you have to know where it would be saved to, and you have to know about when you saved it. 
  6. If you have no idea where it is, you can run many searches in a variety of places. You have to come up with a starting place. On the computer, C: drive searches everywhere on the computer you might have saved it. If you have additional drives where you might have saved it, you’ll need to run an additional search for each of these. Network location, mobile devices, various places on the Cloud – all of these will require their own search if you think your file could be hiding out somewhere there. Be sure to click on Search Tools and make sure that it searches all the subfolders as well. 
  7. Searches usually require some fragment of the name, which means that if you are having trouble finding it, it can be useful to change the title of the search to something else you might have called it or to type the name of the file extension (e.g., .docx for a Microsoft Word file). Instead of name, you can also search by type of file, date you last saved it, or size. Another way to widen the search is to search the file contents. To do this, in Search Tools, click on Advanced Options, and then click on File Contents under In Non-Indexed Locations. 
  8. Doing a search of file contents on the entire computer can be extremely slow, and it often comes up with many, many results. It’s better to choose a smaller part of the computer if you can and to narrow the results by type of file and modified date as much as you can. If you are still unable to find it with those parameters, consider widening it a bit or rephrasing. Consider also looking elsewhere. 
  9. The principle of search works on pretty much every platform. Your mobile devices and Cloud storage will also have searches, but those searches are unlikely to have the advanced features that search on a computer does. Still, you can look for advanced search features. You will still be able to search by name and if you know it, by file extension. 

Still can’t find it? TL can find it for you. Call us at 414-208-4682!

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