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What a Briefcase is for.

Friday, November 12th, 2004 by | Filed Under: Computer Terms, File & Disk Management

What is the Briefcase for? How do I use it?

You’ve probably had this file just sitting on your desk top and wondered the same thing.


I use this feature to synch the newsletter folders on my desktop with our server. It also comes in handy if you have a laptop and desktop that share files. I guess you could also use it if you have more than one computer at different locations that you use for working on the same stuff. You can use Briefcase to synchronize the files with their counterparts on your main computer when you finish working on them. Here’s an overview on this often overlooked feature:

Let’s say you’re working on some files using your laptop and you want to transfer them to your main computer. You can connect your laptop to the desk top and Briefcase automatically updates the files on your main computer to the modified versions. You do not need to move modified files out of Briefcase or delete the existing copies on your main computer. If you have two desktops, you could also transfer the files using a removable disk.

Briefcase stores the files and shows their status: whether a file is linked to the original file on your main computer, or whether it is an “orphan” file. This information helps you organize files and stops you from accidentally deleting or copying over the most recent version

If you have Windows XP , you will probably not see a briefcase on your desktop. For once, Uncle Bill didn’t make something a default! All you need to do if you want to use the briefcase feature is right click an empty area of your desktop, choose “New” then “Briefcase”. It should appear on your desktop. If it doesn’t, then you may not have that feature turned on.

Now, how to use it…

For an example, let’s say you want to take some work files home over the weekend to finish up. Just pop a disk into a disk drive on your main computer, open Briefcase, and copy the appropriate files to Briefcase. Next, drag Briefcase to the disk. The files in Briefcase are copied to the disk.

Take the disk home, forget about it until late Sunday night. Put the disk in your home computer, open Briefcase from the disk, and scramble to finish in time to get a few hours sleep.

If you remembered to bring your disk on Monday, put it into the disk drive on your main computer. Open Briefcase from the disk, and then do one of the following:

To update all the files, on the Briefcase menu, click “Update All”.
To update only some of the files, select the files you want to update, then on the Briefcase menu click “Update Selection”.

Sure there are many other ways you can synchronize files, but this is a neat little feature that you may find a use for some day.

~ David

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