How do you organise files on your imac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Abazigal, May 13, 2012.

  1. Abazigal macrumors 604

    Abazigal

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2011
    Location:
    Singapore
    #1
    I have owned my 27" imac since last July, and while I am thoroughly enjoying it, I am wondering how you all manage your files, since I can't seem to find any sort of hierarchical file structure in OSX.

    Maybe it is because I am still stuck somewhat in the windows mindset, but I am a little disturbed by the apparent lack of any "my computer" equivalent. The folders are all there, just that I have no direct access to them, and have to rely on searching them via spotlight, creating shortcuts in the taskbar, or simply saving stuff directly on the desktop. No way to enter C: or similar to delete sticky files (like the recent Diablo3 beta). I was stuck with a broken D3 icon on launchpad, which somehow disappeared one week later? :confused:

    Likewise, if I wish to locate an old document, the best I can do is try to remember its name and search for it. This often works, but it also means I never get to find out just where the file is stored. I am pretty sure I have quite a lot of old files lying here and there, but have no idea where to start with regards to doing spring-cleaning on my imac.

    For instance, my downloads folder is now just one giant dumping ground for everything I need. I download attachments from emails, edit my documents from there, and save to my thumbdrive, dropbox or re-attach from there. And well, after 10 months, it's getting quite out of hand.

    How are you all coping? Any tips and suggestions on how best to manage, arrange and store your files? :confused:
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #2
    The "Macintosh HD" is loosely analagous to the C: drive in Windows. There are lots of folders in there upon a fresh install that are similar to what you'd find in Windows - Documents, Applications, Downloads, etc. Within those folders you can pretty much do whatever you want as far as organization.
     
  3. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    Location:
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    #3
    You shouldn't go monkeying around at the root of the MacintoshHD. All of your files should be relative to your own home directory. It's easy enough to organize sub-folders below your home directory. I keep letters and things under a sub-directory under Documents.

    Newbies without *NIX experience get carried away and look at the root of the drive and go messing around with permissions and changing files they shouldn't and wind up with unbootable systems.
     
  4. lexar macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2011
    #4
    Maybe I am not understanding your question but you have a "Finder" app that you can go into. There is a files structure.
    From there I have everything in a Documents folder where I then subdivide into other folders.
    Its the same as a PC in that sense.
     
  5. Abazigal thread starter macrumors 604

    Abazigal

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2011
    Location:
    Singapore
    #5
    The finder app only breaks down the files by type (apparently the least messy of all the options), and even then, the arrangement of the various files seem quite haphazard. For instance, I can have pdfs in multiple different folders, but finder just displays them in one huge clump, all mixed together, and I can be scrolling like forever locating the one I want.

    So basically I should just use documents folder like my C:, and create folders there? What about programs installed via the app store? Where are they saved, and where can I check out what is in them? Sorry if my question sounds quite noobish, I am not exactly the most tidy and organised person. In Windows, they at least ask you where you want to install your stuff, but in mac, everything is apparently just done behind the scenes. :p

    For instance, I recently installed neverwinter nights on my imac. Spotlight turns up only the start icon. What if I want to go poking around the installation folder?
     
  6. CrickettGrrrl macrumors 6502a

    CrickettGrrrl

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    Feb 10, 2012
    Location:
    B'more or Less
    #6
    I make a lot of folders and use Finder. I make a folder like "Current 2012 Projects" which I drag into the Finder's left sidebar between Documents and Pictures. Within that are all the important things I'm working on and it's very easy to click on quickly and then see everything in the right-side window.

    Image files that aren't in iPhoto go into Pictures, everything document-like is organized from specific-into-general folders in Documents.

    I do use Spotlight, but it doesn't always turn up the files I'm looking for, Finder is easiest.

    I find it's less confusing to sort things out of the Downloads folder And into Documents folders quickly.

    I also second that you don't use Mackintosh HD and stay within your Home folder. I messed up a PowerBook that way a few years back.

    ----------

    Well, you could make a folder titled "C" and keep it in your Finder left side column, then organize all your own folders inside it the way you're used to in Windows.

    DEFINITELY keep your Apps in your Applications folder. Things downloaded from the MAS default to there anyway.
     
  7. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #7
    I have no idea what you mean by this. If you're using icon view then yes, I agree that it is a very inefficient way to view your files. Try List view.
     
  8. Fresh Tendrils, May 13, 2012
    Last edited: May 13, 2012

    Fresh Tendrils macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 14, 2011
    #8
    Firstly, anything that can be stored in an app [music, vids, photos... ] gets put into it immediately.

    Then, I have 20 or so folders in 'Documents', and within those sub-folders. I change the folder icons so they reflect the contents. My most used folders are put in the toolbar. The key is to sort stuff into the correct folders as you go, and not let it become a complete mess.

    I also have a 'Sort and Delete' folder in documents where I drag stuff that I've downloaded or created, and that I either don't have time to sort now, or only want to keep temporarily [ex a pdf I downloaded to read later, but that I don't want to keep]. I put aliases for the 'Sort and Delete' folder on the desktop and in downloads. This prevents those places from becoming cluttered with junk. I also exclude the 'Sort and Delete' folder from Time Machine.
     
  9. Abazigal thread starter macrumors 604

    Abazigal

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2011
    Location:
    Singapore
    #9
    Ah, so I guess it really all boils down to the big D - Discipline.

    Keep those suggestions flowing - I guess I really have been slacking off and have my re-org work cut out for me. :)
     
  10. lexar macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2011
    #10
    I am still not following your problem??

    On a PC Browser if you choose to download to a "download" directory it would be the same thing. You should then go to the download directory and move the new files to whatever directory you want to. I do not leave important things in the download directory.
    It is a file structure just like a PC.

    The only difference is the applications themselves. In Mac, applications are a package. Therefore if you use Finder and go to applications folder and delete them it deletes that application, and thats it.. nothing else to do.
     
  11. Fresh Tendrils macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 14, 2011
    #11
    Your digital home is really no different from your physical home. Every day you bring new stuff into your house [flyers, shopping, books, etc]. If you sort stuff into its correct space as you get it, then your home will be tidy. If on the other hand, you dump everything on the nearest pile of junk, then eventually you will have a lot of spring cleaning to do!

    I did a quick google search and found a couple of links to help you :)

    http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/10-tips-organize-files-folders-mac/

    http://www.macblend.com/like-with-like/

    http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/simple-ways-to-organize-your-files-in-mac/

    http://mac.elated.com/2009/05/27/organize-your-mac-5-great-tips/
     
  12. Abazigal, May 13, 2012
    Last edited: May 13, 2012

    Abazigal thread starter macrumors 604

    Abazigal

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2011
    Location:
    Singapore
    #12
    Well, I dunno if I am trying to stir a hornet's nest by trying to poke around my hd. Just curious, I guess. You know, like how you could access your windows folder in windows and see all those .dll files. Maybe apple is right in keeping those stuff away from itchy fingers like mine. :p

    I don't know why it didn't strike me to use the documents folder as a makeshift c drive. I guess I must have been having a brain fart of sorts. :eek:

    Bottom line - probably not so much an issue with Mac, and more of my own failings. Thanks for the links above as well.
     
  13. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #13
    "You shouldn't go monkeying around at the root of the MacintoshHD. All of your files should be relative to your own home directory."

    Total disagreement here.

    I've been a Mac user since 1987 - 25 years now (gettin' old, sigh).

    I keep all of my important data (that's data, not apps or system files) on a separate "data partition". It never touches my "main/system" partition or directories.

    Of course, I still have a "home" folder, in its usual place. But on my Macs, there is nothing -in- my home folder. It's just there to "be there" and fill space to satisfy the requirements of the system that I have such a folder.

    My data partition gets backed up to a couple of backup partitions using CarbonCopyCloner.

    I've got files there that are 25 years old, still doing fine. I have had to "migrate" the data from an older app (such as Microsoft Works) to something newer (such as iData), but the data itself remains intact.

    The advantage of keeping your data "separate and apart" from your system files and apps is twofold:
    1. The data partition itself can be smaller, easily backed up.
    2. If anything happens to the system partition, the data partition has a good chance at "remaining intact". You can boot from another source, and have instant access to your data.
     
  14. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #14
    Abazigal : First of all.... open a document in something like Text Edit. Add a space or some other small change so that there is something to save.
    Now... Click Save (but don't complete this step yet)....
    Next to the name of the file, to the right, there should be a small black triangle.
    Click the triangle.... it will toggle the Save dialogue to show the short version or the long version. I suspect you are looking at the short version. the long version gives you lots of options for where you save your files... including the option of creating a New Folder to put the file into.

    For some odd reason OS X defaults to the useless (imo) short dialogue. Once you have set it to the long dialogue it should stay that way for just about everything.

    There is a similar triangle when you try to print. It will open up an actually useful print dialogue.

    At this point, I suggest you keep all your Documents inside the Documents folder (and sub-folders of course). At least until you have a better understanding of how the OS X file structure works. People who have developed non-orthodox ways of filing generally have lots of experience with OS X. Newbies who try to create non-orthodox filing structures often return to these forums asking for advice to get their systems running again.

    If you go with the Apple way of doing things, you will be fine... But you'd better know what you're doing if you are going to swim against the current.
     
  15. Pernille macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    #15
    I suspect Abazigal's Finder shows "All My Files" by default. All My Files is sort of a virtual folder that just shows everything all jumbled together.

    To fix this, open the Finder preferences (Finder menu > Preferences...), select the General tab and change the "New Finder windows show:" setting from All My Files to either your home directory or your Documents folder.

    Also in the Finder, take a look at the Go menu. It contains a list of various useful locations on the file system, as well as keyboard shortcuts for most of them.
     
  16. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    #16
    A Mac folder structure is not much different than the same thing in Windows.

    You've got some default folders/directories like Pictures, Documents, Downloads, etc. All on the Macintosh HD (which you can rename, BTW) just like the Windows equivalents are on C: But it's up to you to create your own folders in such a way that makes sense for you.

    Since you've scattered stuff hither and thither at this point, if I were you I'd switch to tagging. It's a much better way to organize stuff than the folder/desktop thing, which after all is just one metaphor for how to organize info. You can add multiple tags to one document so that you never have to worry about which folder it should be in. Something could be both a "picture," a "document" and a "download," and could be tagged with each name, and hence not need to be in each folder, or force you to choose folders. And it's easier to tag files and folders than to move them into folders. Hence it's easy to just add tags to stuff where it is and not have to move it.

    And that also makes it great for mail, calendar items and other stuff that has to be kept in a particular place, but that you might want to associate with other things. I can tag something in Mail, iCal and Pictures/iPhoto with say a client name, and be able to find them all with just searching on that tag.

    Might work for you.

    Rob
     
  17. Stevies3 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2012
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    #17
    Is there a file manager program available like windows explorer for the PC?
     
  18. CrickettGrrrl macrumors 6502a

    CrickettGrrrl

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    Feb 10, 2012
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    B'more or Less
    #18
    Rob, how do you tag files? Do you use a 3rd party software or can you tag using OS X?
     
  19. simsaladimbamba

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    Location:
    located
    #19
    Finder? If not, PathFinder or TotalFinder.
     
  20. CrickettGrrrl macrumors 6502a

    CrickettGrrrl

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    #20
    Yes, it's called Finder.
     
  21. Jagardn macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2011
    #21
    Your not supposed to be in your \Windows\System32 folder either. If you don't leave your system files alone, your next thread will be asking why your Mac is not booting anymore. I like you, like to know where things are on the system, but changing anything is a bad idea.
     
  22. Set845 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    #22
    When using Quick Look on an item in Spotlight (hover the cursor over the item), press Option and Command for a moment to see where the item is located (it appears at the bottom of the Quick Look window)

    Also Command+click the item in the list to pop a new Finder window.
     
  23. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #23
    Hello Abazigal - yikes... Just realized you are using Lion... which is different than the Show Leopard version I was using.... I've recently upgraded this system to Lion and only just now noticed that the Finder is very different from before.

    Open Finder and go to Preferences. Click on the Sidebar tab, and turn off "All My Files" if you don't want to see it in the Sidebar.

    Still in Preferences, go to the General tab and change "New Finder Windows Show" to what you would like it to show.

    Make whatever other adjusts you want in Preferences and close - keeping mind that a new user you should assume that the defaults are a good place to start.

    Now... with the Finder open, Click on View at the top - there are more 'preferences' here too. Personally, I like to "Show Path Bar." This adds a small bar at the bottom of the Finder window. When you click any item in the Finder the path to that item is shown in the Path Bar. Alternatively ... if you Ctrl+Click the icon at the top of most Finder windows you also get a patch to the item. This Path option is on all the time ... you don't need to turn it on.

    Also - with the Finder open you can rearrange the order of the items in the Sidebar. Just click and drag. As others have said, you can also drag your own folders into the Sidebar to keep them handy. If you Ctrl+Click items in the Sidebar you will options to remove it, and to open the enclosing the folder (move one level up the path), etc.

    Later... start playing with Smart Folders. These are a hugely powerful tool that most Windows converts tend to overlook.

    Luck.
     
  24. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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  25. Abazigal thread starter macrumors 604

    Abazigal

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2011
    Location:
    Singapore
    #25
    That was...perfect! I have rediscovered...my computer! :eek:

    Thank you all so much for your invaluable advice. I am really up to my eyeballs in work these few weeks, but I will definitely get around to trying out the tips and pointers posted here. :)
     

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