Computer file or photo gone? Don’t panic, it might only be misplaced!

Sheree with Expodisk

A tidal wave of sweat surged across my body, and my stomach rocked with nausea.  The writing file I had requested was not to be found.  An error message about incorrect paths was the “helpful” information appearing on my laptop’s screen.  Had I accidentally erased my entire writing file? My mind spun as I comprehended the enormity of my situation, and the potential data loss.  Helplessly, I wrung my hands in despair.

I took a deep breath, gave my head a shake, and forced my heart to quell its tap-dance against my chest wall.  Then, I took the steps needed to solve my problem.

Has this happened to you?  Have you gone in search of a necessary file only to have your computer spew out a heart-stopping message that your document cannot be found?  If so, there is good news: The problem may be very simple, and even simpler to fix.

Read on . . .

Sometimes, we can inadvertently move files into another folder without ever meaning to do so.  A nervous pointer can easily grab a file or folder and slip it into a nearby file.  If that happens, your Word program will not be able to find a document using a pathway in its memory.  You must locate the missing file or folder, and return it to its rightful place.

Here’s how to find missing documents, folders, or image files in Microsoft Windows:

  • 1) Go to your START button. Click SEARCH (a magnifying glass sits adjacent to the word).
  • 2) Your computer’s SEARCH RESULTS page will open. You will see a list of search options on the left-hand side.
  • 3) Click on the “All files and folders” arrow. A search criteria screen will open with three options: List “All or part of the file name”; type “A word of phrase in the file”; “Look in” a specific area on your computer, a specific hard drive, program, file, or folder.
  • 4) If you can remember specific details about those lost files, then select one of the sub-options: “When was it modified” or “What size is it?” or “More advanced options.” But usually it will be enough to remember the file name or a phrase from your missing document. After making your selections, click the SEARCH button.
  • 5) Your computer will begin searching for files containing the words or file name you entered. Any matching items will be listed on the right-hand screen. You can stop the search at any time by clicking STOP. Notice the screen has five columns: Name, In Folder, Size, Type, and Date Modified.
  • 6) The odds are you will see a number of documents and file folders pertinent to your missing documents. Move your mouse pointer over the file or folder you think (or know) is your missing document. As you do so, more in-depth information will come up, including a file pathway. It’s this pathway that should lead you to your missing document. Double-click to confirm this is the file or folder you are seeking. If it isn’t, click BACK and try another file or folder.
  • 7) Another way to find the pathway of a missing document is to rest your pointer on the file under the “In Folder” title. This pathway will show you exactly where your file folder is located.
  • 8) Once you’ve located your lost file or folder, simply cut and move it to its proper location.

Losing computer data is a common occurrence, but before going into heart-attack mode, check first to see if your file or folder is really gone.  Forever.  That missing document might only have been (thank your lucky stars) misplaced.

Sheree Zielke

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