macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 31, 2011
Derby, UK
Hi everyone. I am new here and this is my first post. Sadly I have a feeling this may be a dumb question :confused:, but then again it may not ;).

Something to take into account before you reply:
Before I start I would just like to mention that I am having some health issues right now and need to take some very strong meds. They are making it very hard for me to think clearly right now. So if I come across dense in any way, please take this in consideration. I really am not dense at all. Been using Macs a while and feel at home with most stuff. I'm just a bit stalled right now because of the above and look to you clever people for some help if you would be kind enough to give it.

What I need to do
I want to rebuild my iMac and get shot of a load of useless stuff I have acquired recently. Tried normal removal procedures and tidying measures, but it seems to me that it would take me less time to start fresh than to continue picking the thing apart.

Why is it in this state?
Well while sick, I got this new Mac, was overwhelmed by the speed and the child in my 47 year old body ran riot trying stuff out.. Don't worry, I intend to sit in front of a mirror and give him a stern talking too :D

How I am proceeding
Today I started making a few written plans, as I normally would if I were to rebuild a computers software from scratch, to make sure that when I do it that there are no stupid mistakes. As a result, I now know what apps I want to use and what I don't, along with a whole bunch of other stuff that came out of planning this way.

While working this out I got to Document Management. A thought sprang to mind about how I store my documents. For years I have come up with schemes to create folder structures in the Documents folder and they have never really been satisfactory. Then I remembered something Steve Jobs said a while back when he was showing Lion off for the first time I think. Didn't he mention Autosaving as a new feature? It is Lion I am using.

I didn't follow that too close at the time, because as I said, I am at home with file management, but the idea of it alone got me thinking about a possibility that could solve all of my gripes about my previous folder structures and right now my mind is trying to think it though, but has got stuck.

Keep in mind, I don't particularly want to use autosave as such, but if you were a total newbie, I could see autosaving could be a godsend. That is if it were a system that lets you create a document that is file managed for you. That sort of thing would let you think about the content and not have to worry about making sure it were saved in the right place until you really got to grips with how the Mac works. I know my father struggled with the concept of file management when he went to windows for the first time, so I have seen the situation first hand and know it can be overwhelming. But I digress.

I may have misunderstood the feature, but if it were as I surmised above, would that not mean there was a documents folder with files in it rather than structured folders with separate file types in them?

The thing in my head:
Like I said I don't want to use autosave, it was just the catalyst for what I am now wondering about.

I have a file server that is backed up and looks after my archives. No worries there at all. But I wondered if (with what I have said above in mind) for day to day use, would there be anything wrong with not using sub folders in my docs folder?

So whatever file I'm working on, whatever app I am using to create it, what if I saved the files direct to the root of the Documents folder. The effect would be a documents folder that could have many hundreds, or perhaps thousands of files sat in it only ordered by the type of sort I use

Ridiculous, it would be chaos I hear you cry! But I would Tag the files so searching would work well if I want to find a file, or files of a particular kind. Couldn't I smart folders for example? Wouldn't that be a more intelligent way to look for stuff?

So what is wrong... or right... with this approach? What have I missed? Is there a limit to the number of files in a folder, or anything like that which might prohibit this approach? Have missed something crucial?

Final apologies
Sorry this is long, but in my drug addled brain it's really difficult to stop going round and around questions like this. Diazapam and Morphine (amongst many other meds) make thinking, a lot like wading through syrup in badly fitting wellington boots :( so I really could use your help.

I suspect there will be a few will jump on this without having read my post fully and give me answers I have already considered, but whatever the thoughts I would appreciate them. My hope is that some of you will really get under the skin of this and give me the answer I need.

I am not planning to proceed with this for another week or so as I am not really well enough right now, but I thought I would ask and see what you guys think.

MacRumors is brill by the way and particularly the forums. I have followed the site and hovered about for years. Now I take the next step:)

Happy New Year to all!

and thank you in advance..



macrumors 68000
Mar 20, 2009
Near London, UK.
Actually this isn't as crazy as it sounds though I don't think I have the guts to do it !

I read somewhere (ah here's a reference to it) an IBM study that showed that it was actually more efficient for email (but I think exactly the same applies to documents) if you just kept them all in one single folder and then used search/tagging/whatever to find them. The reason was essentially that people forgot where they filed stuff, so wasted time looking in the wrong folder even though they used folders to make it easier to find stuff :D

An advantage of email tags of course is that you can have several tags applied to the same message. I don't know if you can do this with docs on lion though, because the one place this would fall down, unless you were careful with tags is, say you wanted to find all your docs on say, house purchase 2008? If you saved them all in a single folder, then thats easy.

Perhaps, as is usual with most things, a half way house is the best plan. So, if you have some major event, lets say house purchase as I said, you create a folder for that, but for most stuff and especially one offs, just file it in one big "miscellany" folder.


macrumors 65816
Jul 28, 2004
Portland, Oregon
Tagging is the way to go in my opinion.

I've been using Tags for years with great success. It uses OpenMeta like most of the tagging apps, and has proved very stable. Searching for tagged files can be done within Tags, or using a Finder search (which can be saved as a smart folder), or you can use Leap, Yep, DataLore, HoudahSpot, or whichever utility that feels right for you. You could also consider EagleFiler (which is also great) as a document management solution. All these work fine on Lion.

The only issue I ran into when I had a large number of files (>50,000)in a folder, is that Finder takes a while to display the folder contents, and some copy or delete operations seemed to take some time while Finder refreshed the icons. So I ended up using some folders just to minimize this problem.

I currently use Datalore to do my searches, and I've set up a Keyboard Maestro macro to bring up a search window when I hit my hotkey string, which then passes the search term to Datalore. This works better than any other method I've found to date. Prefixing the search keyword with a # will search both tags and filename contents, which suits me.

I've attached a screen grab of my KM macro.


  • KM Macro.png
    KM Macro.png
    36.1 KB · Views: 44


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 31, 2011
Derby, UK
Thank you very much both of you.

I was in two minds if I should ask the question or not, mainly because I thought I was being silly to suggest a folder of files that on first view looked unmanaged, but I'm now feeling a lot better about the idea.

Tumbleweed 666 your idea about the halfway house had crossed my mind, but I had thought I may end up with the same problems of getting the structure right? However, now I have read your thoughts on it I think you're right and that there will be instances where I would want to bring files together under a folder system. Also thanks for the reference from Dave Jaworski. It's been a really helpful text to read on the subject and yes I think it applies to both email and other files. I've already stored it away, I can see others finding it useful too in the future:cool:.

Blodwyn I hadn't considered using anything other than just finder to search for the files, but seeing your list of possibilities I have begun looking at them and others now. I already have licences for Yep and for Alfred which I have found particularly useful for searching on my old iMac. Thanks for including the script for KM and Datalore. This is exactly the sort of help I had hoped I would receive :).

So again, thank you both very much indeed. I think I am now convinced to go ahead and try this option of data storage, but anyone else out there got any ideas they would add on this at all?


macrumors 601
Jun 13, 2007
This really isn't a dense question to ask, I've struggled for a long time to properly organise all my files, and one day I'm sure I'll perfect it.

At the moment I use a combination of cataloguing by project (photography and film documents) and then each year that slowly gets grouped into a per year folder, which after a while I shuffle off to an external hard drive when I require the space.

I use the colour tags, but only for easy viewing, I see things easier by colour than by text, so something can say "Important", but if it has a red bubble around it, I'll notice it far faster, that may help you catalogue everything up nice and neatly.

I guess the more suggestions the better for you, as you can pick and choose the best bits of each one. Good luck :)
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