How to organise your folders and files

tehabe

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 6, 2018
44
13
Hamburg
This might be very subjective and many people have many systems but I'm trying to find a better way of organising my folders and files. My biggest issues are that I have things which need to be organised by year but in the same category I have also things which shouldn't be organised by date.

For example logos or templates are valid for way longer than a year so they should be in a year folder but they belong close to that folder.
 

Gutwrench

Contributor
Jan 2, 2011
3,920
9,047
I use the ENRON system. I right-click and select delete.
[doublepost=1562152475][/doublepost]Seriously, I used to file things so granular it was inefficient.

I make folders at the highest reasonable level and rely on search tools. Your naming convention is a key element too.
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
45,548
30,755
The Far Horizon
I use the ENRON system. I right-click and select delete.
[doublepost=1562152475][/doublepost]Seriously, I used to file things so granular it was inefficient.

I make folders at the highest reasonable level and rely on search tools. Your naming convention is a key element too.
I couldn't agree more.

This is vital to the success of any filing system.

Over twenty years ago, perhaps, even twenty five years ago (yes, not just the Jurassic period in terms of computer history, or prehistory, but closer to that of the Triassic) when I first embarked upon the world of computers, my naming conventions were......sadly lacking, informed more by historical interest than practical ease of access (and recognition of what the files contained).

I went through a phase of naming folders after Roman statesmen who were of interest to me (I was reading a lot of Roman history at the time). The trouble was, months later, confronted by folders and files named for Marius, Sulla, Tacitus, Sallust, Cicero and so on, I realised that I hadn't a clue of what lay within any of them.

A student of mine confided over coffee that he had named folders after Darth Vadar and other Star Wars characters, and had, as a consequence, found himself similarly bewildered when seeking essays and other stuff in his computer.

So, now, while it may lack imagination (and deny my intellectual ancestral roots as an historian), nowadays, my folders and files have strictly utilitarian and pragmatic titles and naming conventions. And, as a result, these days, any file marked "Tactitus" or "Sulla" is strictly about Tacitus and Sulla, and pertains to Roman history, nothing else.
 
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HDFan

macrumors 65832
Jun 30, 2007
1,500
363
My biggest issues are that I have things which need to be organised by year but in the same category I have also things which shouldn't be organised by date.
This is really a function of how you remember things. Do you think "Where is that word file that I created in May 1999"? In my case I can't remember dates at all, I remember them by file type. Lightroom sometimes organizes things by date and consequently I can never find anything. "Where's that Excel spreadsheet"? It's in my Excel Folder. "Where are my Premiere projects?" They are in my Projects/Premiere folder.

If I want to find my passport or driver's license, I know it's in my Government Documents folder. Medical is in medical. If date becomes important I use the date sort functions in finder to locate it.



So when you start looking for a document where do you first think to look?
 
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tehabe

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 6, 2018
44
13
Hamburg
So when you start looking for a document where do you first think to look?
I usually remember topic or organisation, I work for several organisations and usually this is my first instinct, this is for org a, so I have a folder for this org a. Works great. After that it gets blurry. Sometimes I need to know if it is for a certain topic within that organisation (for example planing) or is this from last or this year. I actually looked into those document management systems but I couldn't get used to the idea to do file management in a separate application and not directly on the file system.
[doublepost=1562193554][/doublepost]
Or create some type of management task that runs across certain directories examining and reporting members based on your desired attributes.
I think you can do that with an application like Hazel.
 

HDFan

macrumors 65832
Jun 30, 2007
1,500
363
You can put keywords into the comments section (File info) which allow them to be found by spotlight. Or you can include them in the filename.
 

Gregg2

macrumors 603
May 22, 2008
5,809
344
Milwaukee, WI
Well, I find "Snap to Grid" in Icon View to be the most flexible. In your case, why not create a subfolder or two for the items that you do not want organized by date?
 

rhett7660

macrumors G5
Jan 9, 2008
12,229
2,249
Sunny, Southern California
I tend do the following, which I have been using for quite sometime now:

Example:

Investment-->Real Estate--Research-->Address of location (1243 Main St Arizona as an example)--> All of the documents in this folder which could be PDF's, Excel, Word, pictures

Investment-->Real Estate-->Current-->Address of Location-->(This will have all of the top level documents such as loan, etc)--Then if need be, I break it down by unit number--Unit Number-->All of the files such as rental documents

You will notice some have years associated to them, that is so I know where to look when I am calculating the taxes for that piece for that year.

Investment\Real Estate\Research\1234 Main Street AZ
Investment\Real Estate\Own\Year\1234 Main Street AZ\Unit 101
Investment\Real Estate\Most Used Documents\Loan Application
Investment\Real Estate\Most Used Documents\Year\Bank Statements (This one I purge ever two years or so, since I don't need to hold them, they are just there for the loan application and have to have them updated etc...)
Investment\Stocks\Account Type (This could be either Roth, traditional, 457, etc\Year
Investment\Stocks\Roth\Year\Me..
Investment\Stocks\Roth\Year\Wife...
Investment\Stocks\457\Year\Me...

My naming of the document in question is as follows:

YYYYMMDD_Name of Document -
20190101_Wells Fargo Bank_Loan Application_Signed.pdf
20190101_Bank of America_Loan Application_Signed.pdf
20190102_1234 Main Street Az_Analysis.xls
20190102_1234 Main Street Az_Property Flyer.pdf

I haven't used key words yet though. I have been meaning to do so, but I just haven't.

I can either do an Alfred search or drill down through the folders if I know what I am looking for. But I keep to the same naming convention so I know how to do my search.
 
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caprica21

macrumors member
Sep 9, 2014
54
4
I don't think there is any right or wrong way of organizing files. This is very personal as something that works for me may not work for you. But this is what I follow and it works like a charm for me.

General rules
1. Use file names to closely identify what that file is for.
2. Use built-in file properties to allow third party application / OS assist you in searching
3. Use tags (ability to add tags was a HUGE feature)
4. Use Partition / Volume -- only if you thing files must be separated for legal reason (Client / Organization files that must be separate even though they are similar or even duplicates)

So

<Volume>/<Level1 Folder>/<Level2 Folder>/<year>/<Topic specific folders if needed>/actual file


Volume - Organizations/Client specific that must be separated. Example: Client A, Client B, etc
Level1 - Functional name/Department/High level topic to identify. Example: Finance, Employment, Tax, Media, etc
Level2 - Second level of separation. Example: For Media it could be Photos, Videos, Movies, etc. For Employment it could be employer name, etc
Year - YYYY (Example: 2019)

You can have your own variations but in general you need first two levels for separation.
Some examples

ClientA/Media/Photos/2019/20190101_TripToXXX/<files>
Personal/Employment/<Employer>/Paycheck/2019/Paycheck_20190101.pdf
Personal/Bills/Comcast/2019/20190101_Comcast_Bill.pdf

I generally keep date in file name as it helps me search quickly and reorganize if needed with little effort.

Hope this helps.