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What's the difference between them?

I am interested in a generic definition, but here is the sentence I was writing:

"The file is located at/in the images folder."

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There's no hard-and-fast rule. For "non-spatial" contexts, and/or where the "location" is commonly thought of as a "container" of some kind, in is more likely. Things are more likely to be at locations further away, but specific cases vary, and many are quite uncertain. The index, for example can be at the back of the book, or in the back.... Both usages occur with about equal frequency on that one. –  FumbleFingers Sep 24 '11 at 12:17
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

in would refer to a container holding the object.

The pen lies in the box

at would refer to the location of the object.

The box is at the shop

In your context, as the folder contains the file, therefore, use of in would be appropriate.

Of course, they, at times, can be used interchangeably (Thanks @FumbleFingers). This link gives a nice comparison between the use of at and in.

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The box can be in or at the shop. If you were outside the shop (especially if you were either near it, or owned/worked in it) and someone asked where the box was, you'd probably say in. If you were further away (spatially or metaphorically), you'd more likely say at. –  FumbleFingers Sep 24 '11 at 12:06
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Well, I will go with located in the folder here, which sounds more natural. Files are generally stored within the folder of a computer system, so the proposition in is more appropriate and accurate than at. the proposition at usually go with home/office/university/point/stage/time/... these words and so on, indicating where/when exactly things happen.

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"Located at" is wrong, and "located in" is not wrong, but I'm reluctant to call it correct because I find "The file is in the images folder" preferable to "The file is located in the images folder." Also, if you are writing documentation (vs. speaking conversationally) write "File x is in the images folder"; that is, name a specific file in the sentence instead of depending on context or a previous reference.

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