Documents Folder Mess!

Discussion in 'macOS' started by OldCorpse, Feb 13, 2007.

  1. OldCorpse macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    compost heap
    #1
    My Documents Folder is a mess :( . I've got like 500 folders in there, and it is visually tiring :mad: . I've got a handful of folders that I regularly visit, and it would be nice not to have to look at all the other folders that I never look into.

    I tried doing fancy icons and/or color labels on the folders I use frequently so that they stand out from the mess, but it's still visually tiring. I'd like to hide the other folders. These other folders are folders I will likely never look into - these are folders made by applications to store their databases and the like (example: Microsoft User Data, AppleWorks User Data etc.). Now, I can't simply put them into another folder, as they'll just appear again in the document folder once I use the application in question. And not every application allows you to specify where you want their database folder to go to - they just go to the Documents Folder by default and you can't really change it (with some hacking maybe it's possible, but I wouldn't know).

    Now, I've seen apps that essentially "hide" folders, but I'm not sure how they work: if they do this by moving the folders, then that's no good, as the folders will re-appear again in the old location once I use the app in question :confused: . Further, it would not be good if the folder hide app somehow interfered with the operation of those apps.

    What I'd like: the Documents Folder that only contains the 15 or so folders I regularly use. So, macrumors hive-mind: how do YOU organize your Documents Folder so you don't have these kinds of problems?
     
  2. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5

    wrldwzrd89

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    Jun 6, 2003
    Location:
    Solon, OH
    #2
    What I do is this:

    I divide all my documents into categories and sub-categories, and make folders and sub-folders for each one in the Documents folder. I try to limit the number of top-level categories to 12 so everything fits in one (default size) window.

    Here's an example:

    In my Documents folder, I have folders called Computers, Games, and School.
    Inside the Computers folder I have folders called Installers, Source Code, UNIX, and Windows.
    Inside the Games folder I have Design, Emulation, and Help.
    Inside the School folder I have folders for each school I've attended, and inside each of those folders there's a subfolder called Homework.
     
  3. AdeFowler macrumors 68020

    AdeFowler

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    England
    #3
    It is frustrating when software stores its junk in your Document folder as opposed to Library>Application Support.

    You obviously don't have to use the Documents folder. I have a folder in my home folder called Accounts and another one called Correspondence.
     
  4. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #4
    Totally agree. I wonder why windows doesn't have this problem. I regard this as a weakness of OS X... I know it is apps developers that are responsible, but OS X ought to fence in the Documents Folder in such a way that apps can't do that, and are forced into Application Support. Same way that the registry is a weakness of windows... I know it is often the programs developers who mess up the registry, but windows ought to etc., etc, etc. as is security a weakness of windows, I know it is "bad crackers" who cause security problems in windows, but windows ought to safeguard etc., etc., etc., Point is, ultimately it is the OS that has the vulnerability.

    Sure, of course. But that immediately goes to the problem wrldwzrd89 mentioned:

    I try to limit the number of top-level categories[...]

    Good idea. I believe in limiting top-level categories. If I now create a bunch of folders outside of the Documents folder, I'll have folders all over the place in finder and I'm back to square one, with overcrowding - I'm trying to limit the number of folders. Where do I put these other folders outside of Documents folder for easy access? Sidebar in Finder? My sidebar is already crowded, I'd rather not add to it with more folders. See the dilemma?

    Meanwhile, yes of course I put folders in folders in Documents Folders, but as I described originally, the problem is that even so, there are a million folders in the Documents folder which I did not create (Application Support folders), and I cannot get rid of for love or money - putting those folders in another folder doesn't work (they pop back out after using the app)... yep, weakness of OS X.

    Still looking for a solution!
     
  5. nplima macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #5
    Hi

    My computer experience is mostly DOS and Windows where "attrib" is the command you'd need :) , but I'd guess that having a "hidden" attribute for a file or folder should not be impossible on Unix/OS X.

    Another way of going about this without risking losing your files (out of sheer distraction: where did I keep x?) would be to create a folder on your desktop where you'd keep all the aliases (shortcuts in Windows-ese) to the folders you really want to keep handy. That way all applications would access their files/folders the usual way, it is you who will have an extra place to look for the stuff you need.

    Nuno
     
  6. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #6
    Certainly. Problem is, I like to keep my desktop 100% empty - I don't even have the HDD icon on it. And I don't want to have to refer to the desktop everytime I want to access a folder... usually I have active windows on top, which would necessitate a F11 first. Not very handy.

    The other option as has been pointed out, is to make perhaps one super-folder with all my frequently-used folders (or aliases to them) that's outside of the Documents folder. Fine. But where do I put it so it's conveniently accessed? My Finder Sidebar is full. My dock is full. My menu is full. Now, there are a couple of folders in the Documents folder which I do open frequently (f.ex. Web Receipts), so I'd need an alias to it in my super-folder. That still however leaves the issue of where to place the super-folder.

    In this particular case, Windows more or less got it right with the "my documents" folder - I can customize it to my hearts content.
     
  7. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    #7
    First of all, there are any dozens of solutions to this issue... but I'll happily throw together a handful...
    1. Make a new folder (in Documents if you want) called "projects" (or whatever you feel like calling it).
    2. Make aliases of those very important folders you want and place them in the "projects" folder.
    3. Place the "projects" folder either in the sidebar or tool bar of the Finder (Apple never removed the ability to add folders to the tool bar when customizing it).
    4. Make sure that the "projects" folder opens as browse, which will give you instant access to all those folders you've made aliases of.
    And if you want to be really conventional, use the Favorites folder in ~/Library... that will give you quick access to those folders in open and save dialog windows/sheets. :eek:
     
  8. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #8
    Thanks. While putting a folder on the sidebar in finder won't work (it's already full), putting it in the Finder toolbar is a helpful suggestion and I'll experiment with that. Dozens of solutions? You don't say... that sounds fun. The only solutions that are really good that I've seen involve augmenting the inadequate Finder (there are many, f.ex. PathFinder) or dock (DragThing) or menubar, to allow more items without overcrowding. I usually avoid such apps though, because from experience I've noticed that these kinds of apps can cause system instability (not to mention are a pain every time OS X gets an update). I think OS X desperately needs something like that though, and I'm hoping Leopard delivers.
     
  9. Peace macrumors P6

    Peace

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    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    #9
    If you do indeed have like 500 folders in you documents folder and you never use them delete the ones YOU created.
     
  10. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #10
    Well, I exaggerated somewhat, it's not 500, but you get the idea - there are too many and it's visually tiring. And I created only ONE (inside of which I store a bunch of subfolders with my individual projects and what not, which is fine). I did not create the rest. The rest are there by default - some from OS X (f.ex. Web Receipts), but the rest are from apps which don't give you an option as to where they dump their extra files and databases (some are from Apple: f.ex. AppleWorks). So, deleting them isn't really an option if I want the apps to function. I need an actual solution. Something like "My Documents" in Windows. What I'd love is the following situation: I open my Documents Folder, and all I see is the 15 folders I actually use, some of which include certain OS X default folders such as Web Receipts and some third party apps (like the database for DevonThink Pro). This way, I open the folder and I don't have to scroll - the 15 folders are right there in a small window, and I can just select the one I want... hurray! Alas, it's not so simple in OS X, I am however hopeful that a solution exists.
     
  11. synth3tik macrumors 68040

    synth3tik

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    #11
    If your dock is full why not just clear it out. There really is only a few things you really need in there. What I have is:
    Finder
    Dock
    Firefox
    iTunes
    iChat
    Apeture
    Applications
    Trash

    I just dragged the applications folder from my home dir. to the dock and I get quick easy access to all applications, leaving some still on the dock that get open and closed regularly.
     
  12. gauchogolfer macrumors 603

    gauchogolfer

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    Jan 28, 2005
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    American Riviera
    #12
    I find this strange, because I don't have any application-created folders at all in my documents folder. Only stuff that I put there. I think the only exception would be 'Microsoft User Data', and that's it, only one folder. I don't have 'Web Receipts', for instance. Maybe we're using very different software?
     
  13. pashazade macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2004
    Location:
    Richmond, London, UK
    #13
    I had the same problem here and decided that the best way round this was to not fight the OS and just sidestep it. Basically I don't use the Documents folder I just let the OS have access to that, I've even removed it off my sidebar. To replace it I created a new Folder under <home> called Files. In here I store in a neatly organised way all my personal documents.

    If you don't want to create a new op level folder put files in documents put put it in the sidebar and access it through that route.
     
  14. nplima macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #14
    in this case you're making your life a bit more difficult... :D
    going to the desktop to get to the super-folder icon isn't that crazy if you use Exposé. just have one corner of the screen show the desktop. I did it and now I spend 5 minutes a day complaining that my XP desktop doesn't have that feature :D


    on your home dir, so you can see it on the finder by pressing Command+shift+H

    on the dock, after you get a larger screen :)
     
  15. decksnap macrumors 68040

    decksnap

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2003
    #15
    This sounds lke such a strange 'problem'. You're talking about your own organizational habits, within which OS X gives you ultimately limitless possibilities. Any folder organization setup is possible, anything can be put in the dock, the sidebar, the desktop, or any folder, or be aliased, or tagged and spotlighted, or smart foldered. It's all personal preference. Describing that sort of control as less useable than the Windows 'my documents' folder is a bit far-fetched.

    The simplest solution is as described previously, sidestep the documents folder and create your own main folder at the home level within which you organize all your other folders. Given the importance of this folder, put it in your sidebar and kick something else out.

    Another thing to do is use the sidebar more flexibly- I usually keep a spot or two in my sidebar to drag the folder(s) of the projects I'm working on currently, as opposed to having them all as permanent fixtures.
     
  16. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    #16
    It does exist... and has already been given in this thread.

    In the end, unless you decide to do it, the problem is ultimately you. Mac OS X has nothing to do with you fixing this problem. It is a computer, you are a human... it shouldn't have to hold your hand on this.

    I'm not sure what you think Mac OS X should be doing, but thank goodness it doesn't do that! Windows users are losing more and more control of their computers with each new version. When software starts doing less (or letting the user do less) with each successive version, that is when we should start worrying! :eek:
     
  17. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #17
    Here's my dock:

    Finder
    Safari
    System Preferences
    TextEdit
    info.xhead [password management]
    Dictionary
    Firefox
    KoalaCalc [advanced calculator]
    --------------------------------------
    Project Folder [contains files for the current project I'm working on]
    Applications Folder
    Documents Folder
    Ideas File [file where I can quickly jot down ideas for future projects]
    @Linky
    Trash Bin

    I thought I was doing pretty well in keeping the dock relatively sparse. I use each of those items in my dock pretty much constantly (ok, maybe not the @Linky thing). I'd miss them if I didn't have them. Now, the issue here is that when I click on the Documents Folder (in my dock), I'd like to see only those folders I use --> the start of this thread.

    decksnap wrote:

    This sounds lke such a strange 'problem'. You're talking about your own organizational habits, within which OS X gives you ultimately limitless possibilities. Any folder organization setup is possible, anything can be put in the dock, the sidebar, the desktop, or any folder, or be aliased, or tagged and spotlighted, or smart foldered. It's all personal preference. Describing that sort of control as less useable than the Windows 'my documents' folder is a bit far-fetched.

    Yes, OS X provides all those options, and the only part I prefer in windows referred to the fact that I can organize, include/exclude folders/files inside "my documents" any way I like - a flexibility that OS X lacks.

    Unlike many, I actually like the dock and find it useful - though it can certainly be improved/expanded (DragThing tries to do some of that, though without the elegance that Apple would undoubtedly give it). On the other hand Finder should be re-thought IMHO, and PathFinder and many other apps testify to that need... but this is a huge discussion I don't want to get sidetracked into. Right now, I'm just trying to solve my Documents Folder mess problem, which clearly is the result of lack of flexibility by OS X in this instance.
     
  18. swiftaw macrumors 603

    swiftaw

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    Location:
    Omaha, NE, USA
    #18
    I too am annoyed when applications create folders in 'Documents' (yes Microsoft Office, I'm looking at you). Anyways, I've solved the problem. Lets use Microsoft User Data as an example. Move this folder somewhere else (Application Support) and then create an alias for to back in Documents. Then, use something like XRay to make the alias invisible.
     
  19. jsalzer macrumors 6502a

    jsalzer

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2004
    #19
    Can we make this more complicated?

    We're making this too complicated.

    You don't want to create a new folder because there's no room for it in your side bar or dock, but you have the Documents Folder in those places? If you create this new folder, you would no longer need the Documents Folder in those places. It's an equal exchange. Remove the Documents Folder from those places and put your new folder there.

    Where the actual folder resides is up to you.

    Personally, I just keep one folder on my desktop in which all of my other folders stay. If I want to back up my documents, it's as simple as backing up the Desktop folder - as everything's there. Let the system have the Documents folder.
     
  20. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

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    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #20
    I didn't read the whole post but...

    Why not make a folder in documents and place all un-used folders in there? Then you're documents folder will have only have the folders you use and one folder replacing the numerous folders that are not used.

    This is a pretty easy problem to solve IMO.
     
  21. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    compost heap
    #21
    Thank you everybody, I've decided on a temporary solution... ugly as heck, but it'll do for now.

    I've made a new SuperFolder which I placed in my user folder. I dragged it to the dock to replace the Document folder. Inside the SuperFolder are aliases to the folders I wanted from Document folder. It's ugly - I hate the little arrow of alias (thank god at least the name "alias" is not there) - and I can't really use the real folders in all cases as some are folders that default only to the Document folder. Plus some just can't be accessed that way (a sparseimage). All in all, it's not really exactly what I want, but it'll have to do - I don't want to be driving folks mad here (some are already irritated) and I'm afraid to push my luck <ok, ok, grumble, grumble>.

    Seriously though... Leopard, please rescue me!
     
  22. jsalzer macrumors 6502a

    jsalzer

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2004
    #22
    Just Curious

    It's not that I'm questioning you - I'm just really curious - what folders (that need to be accessed by you) default to the Documents folder? Since moving from OS9 to OSX, I've not once had reason to even bother with the contents of the Documents folder. What applications are forcing you there? And are you sure they're actually forcing you there and not just default recommending that you go there?

    Just trying to help you resolve something that really seems to be hurting your work flow - when we all know that the reason to use a Mac is to improve your workflow.

    :)

    Thanks for your patience with us as we try to understand the problem.
     
  23. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #23
    For example, DevonPro Think default database is automatically created in the Documents folder - I've looked all over to change that but it doesn't seem possible. Now, you can make a backup of the database to anywhere you want, and create new databases, but the default database is in the Documents Folder. One nasty thing about DTP is that it does not incorporate Spotlight (promised in a future version, so this may be solved), so when DTP's own search fails, I have to sometimes access the original database.
     
  24. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #24
    I'm hoping Leopard will come to your rescue. In theory, a Smart Folder could almost fix this for you - basically show you the contents of your Documents folder minus the folders you don't want - and, in fact, if you edit the Smart Folder in any text editor (Smart Folders are just XML files), you can sort of get to where you want, but the syntax doesn't yet support quite what you need.

    Searching is much improved in Leopard, so, hopefully, the parameters in Smart Folders will be as well.
     
  25. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #25
    Some playing:

    Using Tiger's admittedly non-robust searching tools, you can do this:

    • Create a Smart Folder anywhere you want.
    • Set it to look only at your Documents folder.
    • Set it to show only items with a given color label.
    • Label the folders/items you want to see with that color.
    • Drag this Smart Folder to your Sidebar.

    This, I think, sort of does what you want, at the cost of having to label the folders a certain color. If you click on the Smart Folder in the Sidebar, you'll see only the folders you choose to see, but there are no alias arrows... just ugly text labels.

    It works but is uglier if you choose to include file types beyond just folders (or, more specifically, more than one file type).

    Edit: duh, this works with Spotlight Comments as well (set the Smart Folder to look for Spotlight Comments, add a specific comment to the Get Info box of each item you want included in the Smart Folder).
     

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