How do you manage all your media?


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 30, 2007
I am struggling big time putting together a "best practice" for managing all my photos and music. My primary home laptop is a MacBook Air and so obviously storage space is precious.

Right now, all my photos are poorly dumped into one folder on my home NAS. This becomes a problem because Photos is essentially useless in reading them. Due to having multiple computers over the years, different libraries got blended and are all over the place. It's a mess. Since the files aren't on the local computer, Photos can't really help me.

Music is also on this NAS. iTunes plays a little more nicely with an external folder for the files but it still seems like every few months it wants to forget the folder is there.

In essence, I've relied too much on cloud storage and now my physical files are an absolute nightmare. How do you all handle managing your media, especially using a MacBook with limited storage?


macrumors 601
Jul 1, 2004
I have a base 11" Air (with a 128GB drive).

My photos are stored in Dropbox in a Year/Month/ system. Using selective sync, I only have the current year's and previous year's photos actually synced to my Air (So only 2014 & 2015). Everything else is available via the website and the Carousel App.

For music, I have a fairly small library that I keep (about 500 songs, 10gb) on my Air. The complete library is on a windows desktop and shared using home sharing.

Dark Void

macrumors 68030
Jun 1, 2011

Not sure if I understand this question properly but I will go ahead and try to respond the best I can. From what I gather, you're looking for methods of organization, as opposed to hardware choices? I hope that is correct. I can tell you what I do specifically, and the answer is quite simple, and I have never used cloud storage. I understand its purpose and why it is innovative but I am a physical media type of person.

Your situation seems very limited and that is why I am having trouble understanding what your actual question is, besides what you posted as the last sentence. You seem quite pressed for space on your internal, and you have a NAS and seem alert as far as externals, so that is why I am assuming you are simply looking for organize tips instead of "get an external drive."

I simply use folders, sub folders, with Finder set to Home. I also create an alias for each main folder on the desktop so anything that gets added as recently downloaded or removable can be moved straight to the alias and organized later. The main thing that I try to remain aware of is naming and file extensions. I organize JPEGs into their own folders, PSDs into their own folders, etc. For standard home-type photographs I use the standard Pictures folder, but with sub folders within it.

I name everything sequentially and I remain specific. For example, if I am downloading wallpapers into a clean folder, the first saved image will be wallpaper1.jpg, the second wallpaper2.jpg, etc. I've gotten more specific, within that same example, sub folders with in the "Wallpapers" folder titled with themes in mind such as "Nature" or "Fantasy." These would then be nature1.jpg, nature2.jpg, so on and so forth. I have Finder set to show image previews and have the window scaled to show it at a reasonable size and use the keyboard to find what I am looking for.

This is quite basic, but has served me well. As far as Music, this is essentially what iTunes does for you already, so I leave that alone.

Sorry if I have misunderstood your question but I hope this helps you.


macrumors regular
Aug 30, 2005
My main computer is an Air. Until recently I was using a NAS for storage but I've swapped to using a mini as a server with DAS (external harddrive). The NAS is going to become backup. All media is now on the DAS and available to any computer on the network.

My photos are in a similar mess to yours. I'm gradually sorting that out using Lightroom. I use VLC for video and Sonos for audio. Playing with Plex but have some wireless challenges so VLC is easier for me at the moment.

Structure wise I just use folders, basically what has already been mentioned.
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