13 Aug 2007
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18 Oct 2012
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The global folder vs styles folder is to seperate between what files get automatically loaded IF that theme has been applied to the template. If you don't assign a theme, then it won't load anything.
Here's the documentation describing how to register a theme:
If you manually want to load a .css file, you can do that by using a regular <link> tag in your masterpage and remove the '/App_Data' part from the url.
Or you can use the css widget on the page editor, click on edit and just browse to find your css file.