Locate a file on your computerIn Windows 7 and Windows Vista, you can search for a file directly from the Start menu. To do so, click the Start button, type part of the file’s name in the search box at the bottom of the Start menu, and then click the most promising looking match in the displayed results to open the file.

It’s a handy feature, but it doesn’t always get you what you need. Sometimes, your search will uncover multiple files with the same or similar names, with no obvious way to figure out which is the one you want. At other times, you won’t want to edit the file you’re searching for, but instead you’ll want to be able to open the folder where it’s stored and work with the file together with other files in that folder.

Open File Location

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to accomplish this. Instead of clicking a matching file in the search results, right-click the file and choose Open File Location. Windows will then open the folder in which the file is contained. With a quick glance you should be able to tell if this is the file you need. If it is, with the folder open you can edit the file, copy, rename or delete it, or work with other files in the folder.

File location variants

You can use this technique or something similar in a number of places in Windows. For instance, if you download a file from the Internet using the Firefox browser, before closing the Downloads window, you can right-click a file and choose Open Containing Folder – handy when you’ve forgotten the default location for downloads.

Or, when you’re viewing a file in a Windows 7 Library, you can right-click it and select Open File Location to open the actual folder where the file is stored, instead of viewing it in a Library “pseudo folder”.

You can even use this technique in programs such as Picasa. Right-click any image in your Picasa library (or click the image and press Ctrl+Enter) and choose Locate On Disk to open the folder which contains the original image.

These simple techniques can save you minutes every day, and those minutes add up.