Finding Missing Files - Tech Learning

Finding Missing Files

Listen to the podcast Question: I need help finding a missing file. I can't remember where I saved it. How can I relocate it? The IT Guy says: This is a very common problem. (At least it is for me!) When I lose a document on my desk, I can dig through the pile fairly easily to find that odd handout
Publish date:

Listen to the podcast

Question: I need help finding a missing file. I can't remember where I saved it. How can I relocate it?

The IT Guy says:
This is a very common problem. (At least it is for me!) When I lose a document on my desk, I can dig through the pile fairly easily to find that odd handout copied on buff paper, but something lost on my computer is a more complicated issue. That's more like having it stuck randomly in one of the file folders in my four-drawer cabinet.

First off, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! When you use the Save option, make sure you pay attention to exactly which folder you are saving to. Make a habit of giving files names that make sense and clearly identify what the file is – for instance, naming a handout "Beginning Excel" works better than "bigexc." Take the time to create folders in your My Documents directory that match the kinds of documents you want to save. Having a structured system for organizing your files will make your life much easier in the long run.

But, OK, you didn't do that before, and now you need to find a document that's gone missing. What strategies can you take? First off, if you saved it fairly recently, go to the Start menu in Windows and go to My recent documents and see if it is listed there. (On a Mac, go to the blue Apple in the upper left-hand corner and select Recent items.) If that doesn't work, next you can go to application you used to create the file. Many programs (such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and others) will have an option under the File menu that lists recently-edited files.

If you still can't find it, the next step is the Search function. On a Windows computer, go to Start and select Search. A dialog box with a friendly little dog will open up. Select the option Documents. The next screen will let you tell the search program how old the missing document is – from the last week, last month, last year, or don't remember. (The shorter the time frame, the shorter the search will take.) Lastly, enter a word or term that you think is in the name of the file. Then click Search.

If you are searching through a lot of files, this can take awhile. You may want to go get some coffee or tea while you wait. If it still can't find it, you have one more option. Start a new search, but this time when you get to the window that asks for the term to search for, click the link at the bottom of the window that says Use advanced search options. In the window that opens, you can actually put in words that you think are in the missing file itself. This search function actually reads all the documents it scans looking for the word or phrase you entered. As you might guess, this can take a long time, so you may want to go for a walk or take up a new hobby like knitting while you wait.

These options exist on a Mac as well. The search tool in OS X is called Spotlight, and you get to it by clicking the little blue magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner. It will open a window, and you can enter terms from the name of the file, or words that are in the file. The main difference is that you will see results instantly, because Spotlight is constantly updating a catalog of files on your Mac, and knows where everything is. The new Vista Windows operating system does this as well, so finding lost files will get easier as time goes by – but it will be even easier still if you don't lose them in the first place!

Next Tip: Sharing Photos Online



Finding Files

Listen to the podcast Question: I've downloaded some files from the Internet, but now I can't find them. (Or, I've downloaded files from the Internet, and they're all over my desktop.) How do I control where the files go? The IT Guy says: One of the more common issues that I see working with people and

Finding Sound and Audio Files

Tip: There are many Websites that offer sound files for use copyright-free. As part of your permission to use the resources the site may require you to credit the author or Website. Make sure you read the terms of use. Always cite and credit the source of any resource you use. The file format on the website

Resource language ID missing

Question: Every time I go into the control panel I get a message that says "The specific resource language ID cannot be found in the image file." The Avsmcpa.dll is missing. I recently removed McAfee Virus Scan from my PC and I understand that this is a file associated with it. I cannot find the Avsmcpa.dll

Win2000 Missing hall.dll

Question: When Windows 2000 Professional starts up, the message "hall.dll is missing" is displayed. What can I do? The IT Guy says: This problem is usually associated with a corrupt boot.ini file on your computer. More information about boot.ini is available on,

Zipping files

Question: How can I create a "zipped" file containing many files that I can send as a single attachment? The IT Guy says: A "zipped" file is a single compressed file that can contain many other files. When sending several email attachments, rather than attach each file separately, it's often more

Converting PDF files to MS Word

Question: Are there commercial programs that convert read-only PDF Files into editable MS Word files? The IT Guy says: In August, 2004 I addressed several different options available for creating PDF files, but neglected to highlight several commercial programs which can provide the functionality which you

Transferring files to a new computer

Question: How can I move my laptop files to my new desktop computer? My laptop runs Windows ME and my desktop runs Windows XP. The IT Guy says: You have several options for transferring files, but they can be organized in two general areas: using removable media or a direct network connection. Floppy disks do

Insert WMA file into PowerPoint

Question: How do I convert a WMA file so it works in PowerPoint? The IT Guy says: You should be able to insert a Windows Media Audio (WMA) file right into PowerPoint, without doing any conversion. You will insert the file as a movie, however. In PowerPoint 97 or 2000 (for Windows), from the Insert menu choose

Transferring files with a Crossover Cable

Question: I'm reformatting my hard drive and reinstalling windows 2000 pro on my desktop PC. I need to transfer files (10 GB) to my laptop (running win 2000 pro). I plan on using a crossover cable to do this. What do I need to do in order to accomplish this task (user ID's, permissions...)? The IT Guy says: