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Become the Expert
Computer Basics - Lesson 1
Drives, Directories and Files

For this exercise you will need to have a PC and some photo files - like the ones you use in Lesson 2 - "Recognize what you have".  You will also need to create some screen prints and save those prints to a *.jpg or *.pdf to send in with your exercise.  See the BTE Introduction page for more info on screen printing software.  Look for the Screen Print icon in the lesson.

Windows based computers or PC's have a simple system of drives and directories.  PC’s have at least 1 hard drive to store files.  Usually it is called the “C:” drive. (Back in the early days of PC’s there were 2 floppy (yes, floppy) drives called "A:" and "B:".  The hard drive was called "C:".  Current PC’s don’t have floppy drives but the naming convention has remained.)  If you have a second hard drive it is usually called "D:".  


Any CD/DVD drive is assigned the next letter in the alphabet.  If you have any USB sticks/drives in your computer they will be assigned the next letter.  One thing that confuses people is that when they put a USB in one computer it may be called the F:\ drive.  That same USB in another computer could be called E: or G: or whatever letter the computer wants to assign it.  It is nothing to worry about - just a quirk of the operating system.

The hard drive is divided into Directories or Folders.  This is important to know as your database will be stored in one folder and the photos stored in a nearby but separate folder.  We will use both terms Directory and Folder so you get used to seeing both.

On your computer, go to the Desktop and look for the “This PC” or “File Explorer” icon.  When you open either one it will show the File Explorer which will show a 2 part window of drives and directories.  If you don’t see the “This PC” or “File Explorer” icon go the Start icon (or click the Start key on the keyboard).  Look for “File Explorer”.

Look for the “C:\” drive.  If the Theatre Inventory Database is already installed look for the folder “C:\Costume Inventory Resources”.

If it isn’t there you can create a folder by that name by following these steps:


1) Point to the white area away from any files
2) Do a right-mouse click to bring up the shortcut menu
3) Select “New >”
4) Select “Folder”
5) A new folder will appear with your cursor in the folder name.  Enter “Costume Inventory Resources”
6) Press “Enter” and it will be saved and displayed.


Double click on the Costume Inventory Resources folder to open it.   Create three subfolders by using the instructions above:

    Theatre Inventory Database (if it isn’t already there)
    Costume Photos
    Props Photos

Copy two or three of the photos you took for Lesson 2 (Recognize What You Have) into the correct folder (costume photos or props photos).

Take a Screen Print of your computer screen showing the File Explorer window with the photo files in the folder. (It should look similar to the screen print below.)

In the Theatre Inventory Database Utilities section you will need to enter the drive and directory name where your photos are stored so it is a good idea to be familiar with the directory structure.


File Types

File types are identified by the file extensions.  

    MyLesson.doc - is an example of a file name.  The .doc is the extension.

In the Theatre Inventory Database program you will see several types of extensions.  Here are a few:

    *.accdr - Access database designed to use the MS Access Runtime software
    *.accdb - Access database - to be used with the full version of MS Access
    *.laccdb - A temporary file that opens to keep track of multiple users of an Access database
    *.jpg - a ‘JPEG’ graphics file - suitable for costume or props photos
    *.png - a ‘portable graphics file’ - suitable for costume or props photos
    *.ico - an icon file like that used for a shortcut

             (TheatreInventory.ico is included in the Theatre Inventory Database installation files)
    *.ttf - a font file.  A barcode font file is included in the Theatre Inventory Database installation
    *.exe - a program file.  DbPix30.exe is included in the installation.  

            It manages the photos in the Theatre Inventory Database.

To view the file extensions in the File Explorer you may need to modify the “view” properties.  If you don’t see the file extensions in the Windows 10 File Explorer window: 

    1) Go to the menu at the top of the screen and look for “View”

    2) In the View ribbon look for two check boxes
        Details - this will show the full file name 
        File Name Extensions - when this box is checked you will see the extension


In older versions of Windows you will need to look for the display options.

With the file names listed (Details) and the extensions showing, take another screen print.

File Sizes

File sizes are displayed in KB = kilobytes (1028 bytes).  1000 KB - 1 MegaByte (MB).  1,000,000 KB = 1 GB (Gigabyte).

It is important to know the size of your files - especially the photos. We will talk more about photo sizes in Computer Basics - Lesson 4 but for now it is good to be able to recognize the size of your current files.

In this example you see 10 *.jpg files.  The file sizes range from 15 KB to over 5 MB.

In Lesson 4 we will talk about how the size of the photos affects how they look and act in the Theatre Inventory Database screens and reports.  For now keep in mind that 15 KB is a very low resolution photo - it won’t look that good on the screen or in a report.  

The 5 MB file has great detail and is a very high resolution photo.  While you can load the photo into a costume record it will not display on screens where you are viewing several photos at a time or print in many of the reports.  In Lesson 4 you will learn how to reduce the size of the photo without a loss of quality.

Photo files should be between 100 and 500 KB to work well in the Theatre Inventory Database.

What have you added to your binder?

  • Screen prints of your C:\Costume Inventory Resources directory

What’s next ?

    Computer Basics - Lesson 2:   Installation of the Theatre Inventory Database

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