The "How You Organize" Your Files Thread

Discussion in 'macOS' started by HappyDude20, May 4, 2009.

  1. HappyDude20 macrumors 68020

    HappyDude20

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    #1
    I'm very interested in hearing fellow Mac users and how you guys organize your files.

    For example, are all your files neatly organized within folders under your documents section or are you the type of person that leaves all files under the documents area just for the finding?

    Perhaps you have things color coordinated, or some sort of system where files and/or folders are under specific categories such as school, work, family, vacation..Hell, you may leave all your files on your desktop! (Gasp.)
    ...Or none at all.

    Foremost, the reason I'm starting up this post is to potentially hear some great ideas concerning the best methods to organize files and access them quick-li-er. Quicker.

    _____________________________________________________________________

    As of right now I have, a mess.
    Not in the sense that my files are cluttered up or unorganized; in fact the opposite, my files are all in appropiate folders, though kinda all over the place. Instead of explaining too much I've taken a few photos.
    Simply put, my final thought about all my files and folders seem like a drag and I having to open the finder to grab a file simply cause they're not all in the same place.

    1. Sometimes, I'll be working on projects and create folders to house even if its just one document. But personally, try to keep my desktop completely empty. Here's the link:
    2. Documents: I'm sure some people have nothing but files and no documents in here, I think I did for a good while when I first got my Mac, but then wanted some organization and create these folders thinking since they'd be more organized i'd go into them more easily knowing what to look for. Don't get me wrong; if I need an essay for my Anthro class i know to click on college>spring semester>file...but I never go in it. Spotlight's my best friend here instead. Here's the link:

    3. Deeper in the folders under College I have things according to semesters, in case I need something from months or years before. But as I said, I never go in there unless I really need to and I can't find it through spotlight. But don't get the impression I think Spotlight has solved all my problems. These folders within folders still exist and can't help but feel a bit lazier and "un-motivated" to go in there. I think i'm now coming to a realization as to "why the hell do I have these folders organized like this?" Here's the link:

    4. Again, here even deeper. Hardly go in there. Just doesn't seem to help. The link:

    5. Projects Tab/Folder: I create this in hopes of a place where I could drag folders that I would need in the coming week, or just soon. My mentality went like this, a place to house all my folders (with documents & files within in) but also a place (projects folder/tab) to house folders i'll be needing soon...but again, I hardly use the damn projects folder. Link:

    But enough about me. :) Your methods?
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #2
    I hate having loose files on the Desktop or in the Documents folder since I do a lot of navigation via Terminal. It just makes it simpler since I write a lot of scripts, and I don't like wasting processor time by mucking through a list of 100 scripts and possibly telling the wrong one to run due to a typo.
     
  3. HappyDude20 thread starter macrumors 68020

    HappyDude20

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    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    #3
    I know it's a bit lame to bring up the whole GTD thing...

    ..But I was thinking perhaps making my documents folder as a holding station for all my folders which would contain documents or w/e.. (How can I get all folders in alphabetical order, and automatically alphabetically add folders just by dragging and dropping them in?)

    I believe that's why I create that Projects folder originally; I didn't wanna have to go scouring through ALL my folders about everything so thought i'd have a location to view only the folders I knew were important for the time being...

    I'm def. planning to remodel my entire documents/files thing...it seems like its the most vital towards my life in terms of whats important during my days and nights...

    ...While photos, music, movies are pretty much just there so it's not a big deal. iPhoto easily has all my photo albums so worry there, it's just documents/files/folders that are on my mind.
     
  4. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #4
    Click the "Name" column header and it will sort alphabetically.
     
  5. HappyDude20 thread starter macrumors 68020

    HappyDude20

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    #5
    Thanks so much. As of now I'm just considering ridding all those folders suchs as "college" & "Reads" and instead just having the documents pane/tab/folder just simple hold ALL of my folders, and i'll switch to column view so everything will be in alpha order. I guess this method would also include all the folders from my desktop and projects tab, ridding them and adding those folders to the documents area.
     
  6. ddoonie macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    #6
    I am going to follow this thread closely, as it interests me.

    For organization, originally I sorted my files similar to you, but recently I wanted to make use of tags so that I can sort my files automatically (after I figure out my tagging structure). Problem with this is that I want to create nested folders, and no go with the Finder (that i know of).

    I moved on to using the app Together. Pretty much everything I wanted to accomplish, minus a few things. The file structure is open so that I can access my files in the database without the actual application. I create nested smart folders, and everything stays organized, allowing me to search via tags, or just click through my folders. One thing I wish to be possible, is to be able to drop a file in a smart folder, and it adopt the tags necessary to be in that folder.

    Anyone have any ideas to help organize in a similar way, but without the use of extra apps? I know I can tag with quicksilver, but sorting is the issue. I like to be able to access my files from any computer at anytime, as i sync with dropbox.

    Looking forward to alternative sorting methods!
     
  7. HappyDude20 thread starter macrumors 68020

    HappyDude20

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    #7
    A. First thing before I forget, what do you mean by nested folders?

    B. I'm intriuged in terms of "Smart Folders" but honestly am first admitting i've never used one. Ever. I've seen them through the corners of my eyes at times under Finder>File & iTunes>File....But have never used one. Yet, I'm sure with the regular folders I already use, that these smart folders might become invaluable to me...

    C. I looked into the app you mentioned, Together, and it seems interesting. I can tell you enjoy it since it you mention it can do tags. So that begs the question, can the Mac OS X regular folders or smart folders do the same? Again, I'm a bit unaware as to how tags can help the user out.. I guess i'm asking for an explanation regarding the matter. I haven't used or entered tags since when I first got iPhoto and tagged all 300 photos from my vacations. Then more photos kept coming in I just gave up and ditched the tagging & with the introduction of the Events feature all my appropriate photos were in each location, kinda like a folder for each ya know?

    D. I also checked out Dropbox. It looks interesting and appealing for those that work on multiple computers. As an immersed Google user I have all my stuff uploaded with Google. Google Docs has all my documents and Picasa hosts all my photos. Gcal, Maps, Bookmarks,etc... What i'm getting at is I used "GDocsUploader" which sits nicely on my dock. Whenever I have a file I want uploaded online to Google I just drag the file or photo to it and seconds later it's uploaded. This works great at mornings when I want to continue working on an essay at the school's computers and don't wanna take my Mac. Again, "GDocsUploader" works for both photo and documents, folders as well I believe, but not PDF files. For PDF files I just open Google Docs and uploader normally. As for all photos inside of iPhoto; those get uploaded instantly with an iPhoto2Picasa plugin i've found online years ago. Albums are uploaded exactly as they appear in iPhoto. I consider Picasa as iPhoto online, as it looked the same and tags are transferred too and all.

    E. Finally, like Dropbox...at times I do need to access my Mac so I use LogMeIn which keeps my Mac awake the whole day at home when I'm out and about and if I need to access any part of my Mac to reach any file it can easily do that. This has also come in handy when I leave the Mac on and connected to LogMeIn and I open Photo Booth remotely and can see if anyone is at home before I head out...just in case. :rolleyes: (Totally has come in handy when I'm at school and forgot a file on my Mac at home)
     
  8. HappyDude20 thread starter macrumors 68020

    HappyDude20

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    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    #8
    F. So I was researching Smart Folders and am wondering if they self update? As in if I have a smart folder set to recognize all files containing "astronomy", if a newly typed up essay about that subject is automatically saved into that smart folder...
     
  9. Dunmail macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Location:
    Skipton, UK
    #9
    Yes they do:) Effectively they are saved Spotlight searches that are run when you open the folder. You can have one document appear in several Smart Folders, they all point to the same actual document. Apple provide a couple in the Finder sidebar for recently opened files and the like.

    One idea I've seen is to use the File labels to manage a workflow so in your case create say three smart folders: "Astronomy - draft"; "Astronomy - working"; "Astronomy - final", And in the search criteria for the smart folder assign the colours - red, orange and green respectfully for each stage. Now when you start a new document about astronomy assign it a red file label, it will automatically go into the "Astronomy - draft" collection. Once you start working on it change the label to orange and hey presto! it automagically appears in the working folder, similarly when it has been passed by your tutor or accepted for print or whatever, change the label to green and it is "moved" to the finished smart folder. Other than you having to remember to say "this document is now in this state", the actual document doesn't move physical location.

    I've moved over to Mac from Windows XP so my files are still in their "nested" or "folders within folders" state. What I'll probably do is end up with just a few "main subject" folders in the <user>/Documents folder and use Smart Folders to do the organising.
     
  10. Bye Bye Baby macrumors 65816

    Bye Bye Baby

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2004
    Location:
    i(am in the)cloud
    #10
    I organsie by project in seperate folders. I keep all documents on iDisk so that I can sync them between macs.

    It works well.
     
  11. macgrl macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    #11
    I have folders a-z in my documents folder, I then put other folders / files into these alphabetically. It works for me, as with any system you get used to it and it is personal choice as to what works for you:)
     
  12. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #12
    Type and function are the two ways I organize my files.

    For the type aspect I'll have my misc. photoshop files in a folder, my office files in separate folders, pdfs etc. Then for specific projects, I'll create a specific folder for them and put all of my stuff in there.

    Even though I try to keep things organized, I have about 60 - 80 objects (mixture of files and folders) in my document folder. I try to keep things tidy but it can easily get out of hand.
     
  13. chrisandersen macrumors 6502

    chrisandersen

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2008
    #13
    Dump them all in Documents and use Spotlight.
     
  14. koobcamuk macrumors 68040

    koobcamuk

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2006
    #14
    My Work and Dropbox live in Documents:

    [​IMG]

    Then I have separate folders for instruments, campaigns, presentations, papers etc etc
     
  15. koobcamuk macrumors 68040

    koobcamuk

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    Oct 23, 2006
    #15
    I tried this years ago but iDisk was crap.

    Dropbox is much better, but only 2GB.
     
  16. macgrl macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    #16
    This is actually a very very interesting thread, I think that you can learn a lot from other people when it comes to organizing things. :)
     
  17. MotleyPete macrumors regular

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    Jun 9, 2008
    Location:
    Blighty
    #17
    I keep everything in my home folder, either in the relevant pre-made folders or a few that I have made myself. My projects are loosely organised by priority and then by project.
     
  18. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

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    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #18
    I get little frustrated with Finder. I developed a method for organizing files back in my pc days. It involved hundreds of hierarchical folders. Now I can simply use spotlight to find things, but when I'm creating a new document, I prefer to file it away under my "old system". Pathfinder works better for navigating deep folder structures. Finder quickly runs out of horizontal space to list all the subfolders. I really should merge some of them anyway but for now pathfinder is a nice, albeit not very cheap workaround.

    I also use idisk, but my mome is coming up for renewal this month and I'm very tempted to hold onto my money. The web hosting has broken several times. Perhaps I'll give it one more year, but they had better make it work better or when 2010 rolls around, Apple won't see any more of my money to renew mome. I've already moved most of my files off of mome in favor or more reliable hosting that supports php rather than merely html. The only thing I still use is the photo hosting and I make limited use of the idisk.
     
  19. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    Right side of wrong
    #19
    i agree. i need to really work on getting all my macs organized.
     
  20. smartalic34 macrumors 6502a

    smartalic34

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    May 16, 2006
    Location:
    USA
    #20
    I just keep all my documents in my Documents folder, with the exception of school work. that I keep in extremely organized, uber-nested folders:)
     
  21. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #21
    My wife has an interesting twist to her file organization.

    She has a career in the civil service, and now non-profit sector and creating, editing, reading, commenting on, and sending out documents is her work day. She is one of the most organized people I know.

    She puts the date at the front of every file, in this format - yyyymmdd. So, the document about Astronomy is called '20090415 Astronomy'. Now all the documents in the folder will sort themselves by her creation date (not always the same as the system creation date) and will maintain that sorting even if moved, copied, cloned, emailed, moved across platforms etc.

    Its seems to me you could use smart folders to then sort your documents into semesters. If you physically start a paper before the start of a semester you can still date it to fall within the dates for sorting.

    She uses colour labels sparingly. Its a lot work to manage colours for each and every file, but she does tag the "due imminently" files with red and uses a smart folder to sort those out.

    She has folders for big projects, and then subdivides those - rarely does she go for a 3rd level.

    She names things carefully, sometimes with long names, so she can find them by name. I don't know if this because she doesn't like tag words, or some other reason.

    She does use spotlight alot.

    I, on the other hand, tend to be terribly organized. I am a fine art photographer, run a gallery, help organize shows, sit on several volunteer boards. My files are messy.

    I don't mind deeply nested folders, but I like to see less than half a dozen folders in each level. As I navigate I make a decision: Is what I'm looking for Gallery Business, or not. Is it personal, or photographic. Is it a group I belong to, or not. Until I find the folder I want. The problem I still have is how to organize a project. I like to have all my pictures in the Pictures Folder, and I like having all my documents in my Documents Folder. So I still struggle with Project Folders that include pictures, and documents potentially from several folders. I try to remember to use alias in this case.

    IBM, way back in the days of mammoths, had an OS called OS/2 which had a brilliant folder. They created a type of folder called a Work Space. Essentially, anything and everything you dragged into the folder became an alias. Any application icons you dragged in were aliases as well, and .... if you had several documents open you could close the Work Space folder, and all the documents would close too. Re-open the Work Space folder, and all the previously open documents and applications would re-open as well. You could close and open projects instantly. I would pay good money for the same feature in OS X.

    I am looking forward to seeing where this thread goes. Thanks to the OP for starting it.
     
  22. xgman macrumors 601

    xgman

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2007
    #22
    HOLD-BIN on separate drive for program backup and updates storage
    &
    Applications Subfolders

    so in each of the above to match:

    Utilities
    Photo
    Video
    Multimedia
    Zips
    Internet

    On the dock from above:
    Applications
    Photo
    Multimedia
    Utilities
    Shortcuts (to most used folders)
     
  23. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601

    themoonisdown09

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    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    #23
    I just store all my files in the Trash. That makes it really organized.
     
  24. HappyDude20 thread starter macrumors 68020

    HappyDude20

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    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    #24
    So where does the original say, Pages file originally reside?

    I'm finding Smart Folders appealing, but wouldn't want duplicates or even the main file someplace odd. I'm just thinking since you stated the smart folder contains a copy of that file, that the original files rests somewhere else. & my end goal i to have everything organized and not have duplicate files all over...

    ....but i'm sure there's a solution a novice (me) just hasn't found

    Regular folders or smart folders? It seems apparent that regular ones can do that job, but ppl seem to be in love with the smart folders.

    This is the same thought I'm currently utilizing, in terms of seeing school work as most important therefore having it the most organized. But in terms of folder within folder within folder, procrastination can ensue. In regards to reading all these posts i'm considering just making my documents folder house only folders with each folder pertaining to something specific. Ranging from Anthropology 210, Photography 140, Shoes I wanna Buy, Furniture Purchases, Car Maintenance, etc... But i'm now thinking of utilizing Smart Folders once I hea a bit more about them. I'm also considering creating a new folder and a tab where I can drag and drop folders from my documents section. I'd only be dragging folders that are of current relevant use. So i'll drag Anthro 210 & Photo 140 folders since finals are coming up, but not Furniture purchases since I don't plan on buying furniture.
     
  25. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #25
    Smart Folders are very cool, and I don't use them nearly as much as I should.

    A Smart Folder has a search criteria (or several, including criteria to exclude certain items). The actual file never moves from where you put it. The Smart Folder merely shows you file, but it is not a copy.... it is in effect a short cut (or alias in Mac speak). You can have the same file show up in a dozen Smart Folders, but there is only one copy. You can tuck Smart Folders anywhere you like, as far as know, including into the Finder sidebar. This this becomes an alias to the Smart Folder full of Alias.

    That is another cool trick.... you can place folders in the Finder sidebar. Again, the folder is still where ever its supposed to be - the icon in the sidebar is merely an alias. I use it for temporary uses - say I have a project and I want to navigate to a dozen different folders to pick the bits and bobs it will need. I can open single Finder window, navigate to the folder with the bit and drag that bit (or a copy, or an alias) into the folder on the Finder sidebar. To remove the folder from the sidebar, drag it off. The alias is deleted, not the folder. Incidentally, this works for folders located on servers as well - at least the ones that I use.
     

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