How to organize files in Finder without creating duplicates?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by PacificQuestion, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. PacificQuestion macrumors newbie

    Nov 29, 2011
    Hello all,

    I am new to the world of Mac. I've been switched to a new computer at work and it's... messy. There are icons and files overlapping all over the desktop and it's driving me nuts. I want to organize my workspace, but not being a native Mac user I've got no clue how to do this. :confused:

    I think I've got Finder just about figured out. I've figured out how to make new folders and drag-drop the files from the desktop into them. The trouble is, this just seems to duplicate the desktop files. Then, when I sent the duplicate desktop files to the trash... well... I discovered that sending the original file to the trash means you've just deleted the file from everywhere. After much hair pulling I got the files back, but now there are even MORE duplicate files strew across the desktop and everywhere and I'm afraid to delete anything. It's making it difficult to work since it takes a ridiculous amount of time to re-locate what I'm working on...

    I've read the guides, but I'm still lost. If this were Windows I'd just cut/paste the files to where I want them, but that doesn't seem to be an option.

    Can someone explain to me in very simple terms how to get these icons off the cluttered desktop and into nicely ordered hierarchical files in the finder without accidentally deleting important documents?

    Thanks so much in advance! :D
  2. ArchiMark macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    Well, depending upon how organized you want to be....

    First you could create new folders for different subjects within your Documents folder on your hard drive. Then with the Documents folder open, you can drag the documents from your desktop over to the folder you want to store it in, let go of mouse button when you're hovering over the right folder.

    That should do it...
  3. ajpegg, Nov 30, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011

    ajpegg macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2008
    On a Mac you can:
    Move a file
    Duplicate a file
    Create an alias to a file

    All by dragging and dropping using various key presses at the same time, so it's important to understand which of these you are actually doing when you think you are moving your files.

    The Alt key modifies your drag and drop so that you duplicate the file
    Alt and Cmd together creates an alias or a shortcut to the original file

    The best thing to is create a simple unimportant file on your desktop, then experiment with ways to move it around. It's puzzling that you're having trouble with this because the default is simply that without a modifier you simply drag and drop a file, moving it from one place to another.

    When you're experimenting click a file and move it slightly, holding down the mouse key. Without letting go of the mouse now press Alt and you will see the green PLUS sign indicating that your are about to duplicate the file in the new location. Now press the Cmd key AS WELL and the icon changes to a small arrow as you are about to create an Alias. Nothing actually happens until you let go of the mouse, so you can take your fingers off the keys and move the file back to where it was. If you let the mouse go earlier you will create a duplicate.

    I hope this helps.

    I hope this helps
  4. Gregg2 macrumors 603

    May 22, 2008
    Milwaukee, WI
    Ok, on a Mac keyboard (I'm not using one, so I hope I get this right) that's the Option key.

    Plus, it depends...
    If you're dragging between locations on the same device, the above quote is accurate.

    If you are going from one device to another, the default is to copy. Pressing the Option key makes it a move.

    Short on time, sorry.
  5. ajpegg macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2008

    Thanks Gregg2. I know the Mac historically has an Option key but it's one of the confusing things about Macs I was trying to avoid. I'm using a MacBook Pro keyboard and that key has 'alt' written on it.

    Good point about the additional complication of dragging and dropping between devices.
  6. ajpegg macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2008
    I've just discovered something I didn't know which may explain the trouble here...

    It turns out that if a file is LOCKED then dragging and dropping it creates a duplicate without asking. I didn't know that. You need to select 'get info' and uncheck the Locked box before it will behave normally.

    Locking can be set to happen automatically after a file hasn't been used for a period of time so I strongly suspect this is what's happened.
  7. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Sailing beyond the sunset
    The same thing can happen if the file's enclosing folder is locked. Get Info on the Desktop folder in home folder, and make sure it's unlocked.

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