How do you organize your documents folder?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by cmm, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. cmm macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2006
    I have tens of thousands of files in ~/Documents now that have built up over the years. I am sure there are plenty of duplicate files.

    Any suggestions on how to better organize ~/Documents?

    Are there any apps that can easily find duplicate files so I can review and delete what is necessary (usually the older files, but not necessarily)?

    Any general tips on how to organize ~/Documents in the future?

  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    There are many methods, but one would be to set up a folder for each file type: pdf, doc, spreadsheet, pics, etc. Then search for all files in the Documents folder, sort by Kind, then drag all the pdf files into the pdf folder. When you do, if you have duplicate file names, you'll get a message that gives you a choice to select the older or newer file:
    That will help you clean up duplicate file names, but it may not be the best method for everything. For example, you may have many pics from a camera named something like DSC00035.jpg or IMGP6256.jpg that are different pictures taken at different times, but with the same file name, so they're duplicates only in name, but not content.

    As you can see, there's no simple solution. It takes a lot of work, but you can space it out over time.
  3. cmm thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2006
    How do you organize your documents folder?

    My ~/Documents folder has grown out of control over the years. I have no idea how to organize it so I can actually use it. Does anyone want to share some wisdom on how to make it manageable, so I don't have to rely on spotlight all the time?

  4. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    What kind of files/documents do you have? I have mine organized so that school related stuff is in one folder, MacRumors related stuff is in one (I have some links and documents there), pretty much an own folder for each thing. I have three sub-folders in my school folder, current (things that I'm currently working on), old (for already returned stuff) and one for mind maps.

    I used Automator to create a workflow that syncs my Documents and Dropbox folder so I can access them from anywhere.
  5. shwc, Jan 29, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2011

    shwc macrumors regular

    Jul 2, 2005
    >Computer related
    >>Registration codes
    >Household related
    >>Moving related
    >>Mortgage and utilities
    >>Upkeep and repair
    >> Misc.

    >Budget related
    >C.V. and P&T
    >Department related
    >Reviewing duties
    >Teaching related
  6. rien333 macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    The Netherlands
    Maybe you could make an automator workflow which saves files with a certain extension to a certain folder. For example: All files with a .jpg extension go in folder called "Images" or "Work images".

    However, the best thing to do would be going through your documents folder and place everything where it belongs and delete unnecessary stuff. It takes a lot of time, but it could be worth it.
  7. spillproof macrumors 68020


    Jun 4, 2009
    Create some folders then 'sort by kind' so the folders are on top. Lable the folders Work, School, Home, and other broad topics of things you may have.

    Drag and drop files into their respective broad topic. Make more folders if need be, but don't get to specific unless it won't fit into the other broad topics.

    Once your Documents folder is sorted into the broad folders, go into those folders and repeat the process of creating folders with more specific topics this time. You don't have to get extremely specific. DELETE stuff you don't need. If there are things that you want to keep but do not use, sort using "old" or "past" or year designation folder.

    This will take time, but in the end it will make your life easier.

    For example, my broad topic "College" folder looks internally like:

    +Spring 2011

    +Past Semesters
    ...+Fall 2007
    ..... ........Slides
    ..............Ch reviews
    ..............Mast Chem
    ..........+Project 1
    ...+Spring 2008

    ....Red Cross
    ....Human Society
    ....USF related
    ....Dr. C

    +FACTS Reports

    +Financial Aid / Scholarships

    Campus Map

  8. Martin29 macrumors 6502


    Nov 25, 2010
    Quimper, France
    As a new Mac user this is one of the things which confuses me.

    I have created folders and sub folders for my files, but cannot see any way to save directly into those new folders or sub folders. Everything saves into documents, and then I am obliged to manually move it to the appropriate sub folder..

    Am I missing something? Or is it a bit like not being able to maximise a window except manually dragging the bottom right corner?
  9. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    You can save anywhere you want, just click that red circled button or select a previous folder from the blue rectangled drop down menu.


    To learn more about how to use Mac OS X and such: Helpful Information for Any Mac User by GGJstudios

    And on topic: I don't use the Documents folder for storing my documents, only for storing application documents like VMs or whatever other application wants to use it.
    I just use the Desktop with folders and subfolders and clean it up every week.
  10. Andeavor macrumors 6502

    Aug 19, 2010
    There's Liten for one that will help you find duplicates, give you a preview and help you delete the duplicate right away.
  11. Gregg2 macrumors 603

    May 22, 2008
    Milwaukee, WI
    Major folders:
    Husband's files
    Kid's Files (dormant - flew the coop)
    Northtown (financial stuff)
    Our Finances
    Special Files
    TechTool Reports
    Wife's files

    Most of the above also have sub-folders in them.
  12. Gregg2 macrumors 603

    May 22, 2008
    Milwaukee, WI
    I see you've cross-posted. (against forum rules) I answered in the other thread, but I have a new answer: It's hopeless. You're condemned to a life of clutter, saving things you don't need in multiple places. Are you a hoarder? Call one of those reality shows. It's your last chance!
  13. Andeavor macrumors 6502

    Aug 19, 2010
    I've set up a bunch of folders dividing my stuff from notes, letters, financial documents all the way to specific pdf files like the posters above said and have them backed up as well on an external drive. This way, if you don't need to access a certain category for the time being, you can just delete obsolete folders from your Mac to quicker access the other folders.
  14. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Having been a Mac user since 1987, long before there ever was a "documents" folder, I learned to set up my own system of organizing documents.

    To this day, I don't use the "documents" folder much at all. About the ONLY files I put into it are images that are then used to choose desktop pictures.

    From early on, I created a separate -PARTITION- on my drive on which I keep my data files. Because they reside on a partition of their own (which is much smaller than the size of the system files), it makes it easy to keep this backed up on its own.
  15. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2009
    United Kingdom
    Personally I do this (Yes, its complicated, but it works well for my main mac):

    > Final Cut Pro
    > Motion
    > Shake
    > DVD Studio Pro
    > Archive
    >RAW Footage
    >>Analysis I
    >>Methods and Applications
    >>Algebra I
    >>Programming I
    >>Algebra II
    >>Programming II
    >Sep 2010
    >Oct 2010
    >Nov 2010
    >Dec 2010
    >Jan 2011
    >Feb 2011

    And then I have other machines for other things, each with a different version of this system to hold Assignments and Notes (TabletPC), Java Text Files and Labs (MacBook), AppleWorks and Writing Stuff (MDD), Images and Photography (PowerBook), More Video (Older G4s...)
  16. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    This one tip is, I think, the most important thing to tell any new Mac user. It's the first thing I tell anyone who switched to Macs. I can even do it over phone now.

    I use the same system for both personal, volunteering, and business. And my business has different aspects so I have a messy Documents folder. Plus I'm consistently behind in my filing. I try to keep things off the Desktop, as much as I can. Which isn't very much.

    I tried once with just two folders. Personal and Business. But then some of the activities I was doing were both Personal and Business (I'm a photographer - so in some cases I was personally volunteering to help organize an annual photography show, in which I had some photos. The photos I submit would be business, but the time I spent organizing was personal, so now a third category.... I have a number of projects that aren't easily pigeonholed, so they get their own top category.)

    Short story, made long... I use Spot Light a lot.
  17. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Or go with the flow and try tagging, or Finder substitutes. Let the computer do some of the work. Check out Leap for an example of this; the idea is that you can keep anything anywhere and let tags categorize things.
  18. John89 macrumors regular

    Dec 23, 2008

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