[xplorer˛] — Paths for dummies
home » blog » 22 July 2007 [beginners]
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We continue the series of basic information for less than expert users. Last time we saw what folders are. Folders help you organize your document collections in themes that make sense to you, in a "drawer" like storage analogy. We also saw how folders can be inside folders leading to a hierarchical tree-like structure.

The easiest way to traverse a folder tree, browsing its folders, is using the mouse. Whenever you see a folder icon you double click on it to enter. In both xplorer˛ and windows explorer folders are shown either in the tree view (which only lists folders) and in the contents (right) pane where they are mixed with files. As you enter folders you get deeper in the hierarchy; to go upwards you use Goto > Up a level menu command.

Folders can also be browsed with the keyboard calling them by name. Folder names or paths show up in the addressbar as you enter into them, e.g. C:\users\nikos. The folder name is the last part of the long-winded path, nikos in our example. Before that we see the "full address" of the folder that names all the layers of higher folders separated by backslashes. The current folder is within a folder called users, and itself is within the root folder C:\ which represents your hard disk. The full path registers all folders you would have to traverse one by one to reach the folder you are browsing.

Paths can also be relative to the folder you are browsing. Say you are in C:\ and type users\nikos in the addressbar, you will end up in the same folder as before. It is like you append the portion you type to the path of the folder you browse: "C:\" + "users\nikos" = C:\users\nikos. You can even go upwards using two dots, and combine them with other relative folder names, e.g. type ..\valeria and you will first go one level up (C:\users) and immediately enter another folder called valeria ending up in C:\users\valeria.

Why type folder names when you can just click to get in them? It seems tedious. Get one letter wrong and xplorer˛ will complain that it can't find the folder. Paths seem so last century! Well they are last century, that's how we used to browse folders in the old days when we didn't have explorer type tools and men and mice didn't mix!

Although you don't have to use paths to browse folders, it is good to understand how they work. They emphasize the hierarchical "folder in a folder" structure of storage media. You have the main storage devices on your system each represented by a single letter ("C" for your hard disk, "D" for your CDROM etc) and each has its own folder tree. Paths are also convenient because as text you can copy and paste them between applications, e.g. from xplorer˛ addressbar to the "Save As" dialog in notepad.

We conclude this article with a short demo that summarizes the various folder access modes offered by xplorer˛ that deliver you from typing demons that plagued poor last century users. No more manual labour paths! :)

PS: to see the complete folder hierarchy in the breadcrumbs menu as seen in the demo you have to use the registry settings editor and check "Breadcrumb menu pops up complete folder hierarchy" box. Then when you right-click on subpaths in the titlebar, you'll get submenus for subfolders. This mode is off by default since it cannot be used with the keyboard.

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