Chapter 11:
Files and Folders

AppData Folder FAQ for Windows 10

The AppData (Application Data) folder is used for storing app settings, associated files and data that is specific to the apps on your PC. The application can use other parts of your partition to store other types of files, but the core settings and data are usually always located in the AppData folder. By default, this folder is hidden in the File Explorer and it consists of three sub-folders. In this section, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about the AppData folder and give you more insight into its role in the system.

How Do I Unhide and Enter the AppData Folder?

If you wish to access the AppData folder, you will first need to make sure that your hidden files and folders are visible. Here’s how you can do this in Windows 10:

First open the Control Panel using either of these two methods:

Under Advanced Settings, locate "Show hidden files and folders".

Click or tap on Show hidden files and folders.

Click or tap on OK to confirm these changes.

After this change, hidden files and folders will become visible until you go back and revert the changes. You will recognize hidden files and folders because they will be grayed out. This is a visual indicator that lets you know that they are set as hidden. However, for all intents and purposes, they are just normal files and folders.

Now you can open the AppData folder. Typically, it will be located in your main user directory. For example, you are likely to find it over at “C:\Users\John\AppData” where “John” is your designated username.

What Are the Subfolders in AppData?

The AppData folder has three subfolders that contain three unique types of data related to the application on your PC. Here’s an overview of what they are and why the files in these folders are significant:

Roaming (%appdata%) is a folder that contains data that can move with your user profile from one PC to another. Think of it as a folder with portable settings file that have the ability to sync with the application even if you transfer them on another machine. A good example of this could be your Internet bookmarks and favorites – this is a settings file which can be moved from one PC to another and imported into the browser. We can sum this up simply by saying that Roaming data can move with your user profile.

Local (%localappdata%) is a folder that is the opposite of Roaming since this data can’t be moved to another machine or with your user profile. These are usually temporary files that the application uses during runtime.

LocalLow (%appdata%/…/locallow) is similar to the Local folder and as such it also contains data that can't be moved. However, the data in this folder usually has a much lower level of access to the system.

It is important to note that application developers are the ones who choose which files their app saves to the Roaming, Local or LocalLow folders. Due to how the default settings have been standardized, you will find that most desktop apps use the Roaming folder by default, while most Windows Store apps use the Local folder by default.

Of course, apps can have access to all three of them.

Can I Delete Files in the AppData Folder?

Yes, you can delete files from the AppData folder since it is just a regular folder. However, the real question is – should you? Deleting the wrong files won’t harm your operating system, but it can corrupt an application to the point that you’ll have to reinstall it.

However, there are a lot of perfectly good reasons for wanting to delete files from some of these folders. Namely, unresponsive applications can leave a lot of “trash” inside of the Local folder and take up an unnecessary amount of storage space. You can use a third-party application to clean the disk and let them discover unused (or abandoned) files in the AppData folder. Of course, you can also do this manually yourself.

How to Share Files and Folders in Windows 10

There are many ways to share files (and entire folders) in Windows 10 and we’ll go over them in this guide. Some of these methods are very specific to the Windows platform while others provide a multi-platform solution. Due to this variety you are bound to find something that fits your requirements and provides you the ease of use that you need.

The Share Option in Windows 10 Apps

Many Windows 10 applications take advantage of the system’s API functions and provide a standardized Share option. This feature is meant to help you easily share files from within the application. Most commonly, it is used to share photos and documents via email or integrated services such as other third-party apps.

We’ll show you how to use the Photos app to share photos via email in the following example:

Open Search and type Photos. Open the Photos app.

Right-click or tap on an image or one of the selected images and choose Share:

From the list of available share options, select the app you want to use.

Fill in all of the fields in the next dialogue. Once you’re done, just click or tap on Send.

As you can see, in the above example we used the Share option of the Photos app to invoke the use of an application. However, you can also do something similar directly from any File Explorer window.

If you have a desktop app for sharing installed, here’s how:

From within File Explorer, select the files you wish to share.

Click or tap on the Share tab in the window bar and then click or tap on Share and choose the app you want the share with.

Share Files via a Homegroup

If your PC is connected to a local Homegroup, then you can use it to share files and folders with other devices that are part of the same group. Here’s how:

From within File Explorer, select the files or folders that you wish to share.

Click or tap on the Share tab in the window bar.

In the Share with field you’ll see several options, depending on your PC’s connectivity to other groups and applications.

Here you want to select the option “Homegroup” to share the selected files or folders with the other PCs. However, you can also choose the level of access that you wish to give them:

If you have any trouble setting-up or using a local Homegroup, please refer to our full Windows 10 Homegroup troubleshooting guide.

Share and Collaborate via Microsoft OneDrive

Microsoft also provides a built-in cloud storage solution to their Windows users in the form of OneDrive. This is a great solution if you want to synchronize your files across different devices or just share individual files with your friends and colleagues. The easiest way to share files with OneDrive is to do the following:

Locate the file or folder you want to share from within the File Explorer.

Select the files and then drag them into the OneDrive application.

Right click or press and hold the file in OneDrive and then choose the Share a OneDrive link option.

It will copy the link to your clipboard and you can share it if you want someone to access your OneDrive file.

If you need a more detailed guide on using the OneDrive service, then feel free to read through our Introduction to OneDrive in Windows 10 and the OneDrive FAQ.

Send Files over Skype

Skype is Microsoft’s communication and chat app, but it can be used to share smaller files such as photos and text documents. It is limited heavily as the transfer protocols that are used by this app are not meant to be used for sending large amounts of data. However, if you just need to send a photo or a Word document quickly, then Skype is not a terrible solution.

Here’s how to do it:

Locate the Skype contact that you wish to send the files to and open your chat window.

Click or tap on the attach file button to select a file to send them and click or tap on Send in order to send them the message with the attached file.

You can also just drag and drop the file from File Explorer right into the Skype chat window.

Recycle Bin FAQ for Windows 10

The Recycle Bin was introduced by Microsoft as a feature of Windows 95 and it has evolved a lot still since then. However, the basic function and concept of the Recycle Bin has not changed too much. The primary purpose of this feature is to serve as a temporary storage area where you can review files that are set for deletion. This prevents you from accidentally deleting files and allows you restore them back to their original location if you change your mind.

In this article we will provide you with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the Recycle Bin. We’ll look at how this feature functions as a whole and what sort of things you can do with it.

How to Delete and Restore Files from Recycle Bin

By now it is likely that everyone knows the basic concepts of deleting files:

Select the file(s) or folder(s) that you wish to delete. You can then:

After that, head over to the Desktop and right click the Recycle Bin (or press and hold) and then select the option Empty Recycle Bin in order to delete the files permanently.

However, a lot of new Microsoft users often ask how they can restore files that they’ve deleted accidentally. To restore files from the Recycle Bin just do the following:

Head over to the Recycle Bin on your Desktop and open it.

You’ll see a list of all the files and folders that have been sent to the Recycle Bin. To restore any of them, just select as many that you’d like.

Now click or tap on Manage and then click or tap on Restore the selected items.

You can also select the option Restore all items to quickly restore all of the items from the Recycle Bin.

You can also right click (or press and hold) a selected item and then select the option Restore from the context menu.

How to Hide the Recycle Bin

In Windows 95 you could actually delete the Recycle Bin shortcut on your Desktop. Of course, you could still open the application by creating another shortcut or by opening it directly through the command console. However, since an average user did not know how to do this, Microsoft made it impossible to delete the shortcut itself in a later version.

This doesn’t mean that you cannot hide the Recycle Bin icon. In fact, Windows 10 has a special setting option that makes this easier. Here’s how you can hide the Recycle Bin shortcut from your Desktop (and bring it back later):

Open Search.

Type in “desktop icons” into the search box and then click or tap on Show or hide common icons on the desktop from the results.

You will now see the Desktop Icon Settings dialog box. You’ll be interested in checkmark next to the Recycle Bin:

Click or tap OK to apply the settings.

This only hides the icon, but the deleted files will still be stored in the Recycle Bin.

How to Customize the Recycle Bin Settings

The Recycle Bin does not provide the user with a lot of customizable settings. However, there are certain things that you can control. To open the settings menu, right click on the Recycle Bin icon (or press and hold) and select the option Properties.

There are three settings that you can customize according to your liking:

Maximum size – allows you to set the maximum size of the Recycle Bin (in megabytes).

Delete files immediately – this essentially disables the Recycle Bin feature and permanently deletes files immediately instead of sending them to the Recycle Bin folder.

Show confirmation box – you can turn the confirmation dialogue box on or off when deleting files.

The Recycle Bin and OneDrive

The integration between the Recycle Bin and OneDrive might seem a little strange at first, but it is important to note that they are fully synchronized. Deleting a file in OneDrive will send it into two Recycle Bin folders – the one in OneDrive and the one on your desktop. Deleting or restoring the file in either of the two will reflect the change immediately as if they were the same thing.

If you would like to learn more about OneDrive, please read our full guide on using OneDrive with Windows 10.

How to Zip and Unzip Files and Folders in Windows 10

When we talk about zipping and unzipping files and folders, we are referring to the compression and decompression of ZIP archives. The ZIP file format is one of the most basic and most common compression formats that typically uses the DEFLATE algorithm. It is very useful for compressing files and folders, as this decreases their file size and means that it is a lot easier (and faster) to move or share them.

Windows 10 comes with a built-in utility that allows you to zip and unzip files with the “.zip” extension. In this guide we will show you how to use it, but also introduce you to other compression formats and reliable third-party tools.

How to Create a ZIP Archive

Creating a ZIP archive is a very easy task and here’s how:

Use the Windows File Explorer to locate the files and/or folders that you wish to compress.

Select all of them and then do either of these two options:

Regardless of which option you’ve chosen, a new compressed folder will be created in the same directory as the files that you’ve compressed. Depending on the size of the compressed files, the compression could take a few minutes.

The original files will remain unchanged and will stay at their location. Compression does not interfere with the original file in any way.

You can now also drag and drop other files into the compressed ZIP archive which will compress them.

How to Unzip (Extract) a ZIP Archive

To unzip (extract) the files from a .zip archive, you can do the following:

Use the Windows File Explorer to locate the .zip archive that you wish to unzip (extract).

Now use either of these two methods:

Extracting the files to a new location will not change the original archive or the files within it. You are essentially just decompressing and copying files to a new destination.

Other Archiving and Compression Formats and Tools

While .zip is commonly used because it is very fast and simple, it is far from being the best compression format. People use other formats and you’ve probably heard of some of them - .iso, .rar, .7z and so on. Each of these compression formats either has a specific best-case use, or is meant to be a general-purpose format. As such, you’ll have to learn more about each of them if you wish to use file compression on a more advanced level.

In case you receive one of these compressed files from a colleague at work you won’t be able to open them. This is because Microsoft doesn’t provide a built-in utility that handles these file types by default and as such, you’ll have to seek out a third-party tool for the job.

The two of the most commonly used and recommended tools are the 7-zip File Manager and WinRAR. Both of them are free to download and can be both commercially and privately.

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