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directory

A directory is defined as an organizational unit, or container, used to organize folders and files into a hierarchical structure.

A directory contains bookkeeping information about files that are, figuratively speaking, beneath them in the hierarchy. You can think of a directory as a file cabinet that contains folders that contain files.

directory

Files, Paths and the Root Directory

Computer manuals often describe directories and file structures in terms of an inverted tree. The files and directories at any level are contained in the directory above them. To access a file, you may need to specify the names of all the directories above it. You do this by specifying a path.

The topmost directory in any file is called the root directory. A directory that is below another directory is called a subdirectory. A directory above a subdirectory is called the parent directory. Under DOS and Windows, the root directory is a back slash (\).

Recommended Reading: Webopedia's pathname and filename definitions.

To read information from, or write information into, a directory, you must use an operating system command. You cannot directly edit directory files. For example, the DIR command in DOS reads a directory file and displays its contents.

GUI Folder
Image Description: Windows Explorer displays the hierarchical structure of files, folders, and drives on your computer

Many graphical user interfaces use the term folder instead of directory. For example, Windows Explorer will display the hierarchical structure of files, folders, and drives on your computer in addition to showing any mapped network drives. The Windows Explorer GUI makes it easy to see the folder hierarchy and serves as a primary tool to copy, move, rename or search for files and folders on your computer.

Other Meanings of the Word Directory

In networks, a database of network resources, such as email addresses. See under directory service.







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