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I'm one of today's best-selling computer book writers, with more than 15 million books in print.

This website keeps you up-to-date on my books, and your computers. Each week, I answer a reader's question on-line.

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How do I retrieve what I’ve saved when I press Ctrl+S?

Q: I have a real dummy question. If I press Ctrl+S, how do I retrieve the material that I saved?

A: Holding down the Ctrl key and pressing the letter “s” is one of many Windows shortcut keys. Shortcut keys are time savers, letting you keep your fingers on the keyboard while working, rather than knocking over the coffee while reaching for the mouse.

Pressing Ctrl+S means to “save your current document,” but Ctrl+S does slightly different things depending on what you’re currently doing:

  • If you open an existing file, change a few things, and press Ctrl+S, your program saves the new information inside your opened file, keeping the file stored in its original location.
  • If you create something new with a program and press Ctrl+S, the program creates a new file, asking you to choose a name and location to store your masterpiece. Most programs even simplify things by suggesting a file name and a location: They usually offer to place your new file inside one of your existing folders, depending on whether you’re working on a document, a music file, a video, or a picture. To retrieve that file later, return to that chosen folder.
  • If you press Ctrl+S and you’re not working in a program, Windows does nothing. After all, you haven’t created any work to save.

But, you may ask, how do you find the file’s location if you don’t remember where you originally saved it?

You can find a file’s name and location in any of several ways:

  • Click the Start menu and click Recent Items to see a list of the past 15 files you’ve created. Right-click a file’s name and choose “Open File Location” from the pop-up menu; Windows immediately opens the folder containing your long-sought file. (Windows even highlights the errant file’s name for easy clicking retrieval.)
  • On the taskbar, right-click the icon of the program that created the file; hover your mouse pointer over the file’s name, and Windows lists the file’s location in a pop-up menu.
  • Can’t even remember the file’s name? Click the Start menu and type a few words you remember from inside the document. Windows begins listing files containing those words. When you spot the right file, right-click its name and choose Open File Location.
  • If you know when you saved your file, search for files created within a certain date range in Windows 7.

The “Open File Location” command comes in handy whenever you can spot a file’s name, but want to see the folder where it’s currently living.

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