Any person who uses a computer needs to find the information they store on it quickly and efficiently. However, the reality about this “quickly and efficiently” bit is that many folks become aggravated trying to do it. This aggravation is stemmed from one of two reasons:
A. They don’t know how to wade through Windows, easily confused by it.
B. They’ve never learned how to manage files correctly.
All too often, people, even smart business folks, will save their Word documents to whatever location the system is set to. When they go looking for them, they have no idea how to find them without using the exact application that created the document. These folks might even claim they saved that file on a flash drive or CD but the file isn’t there.
With that in mind, if you know someone, perhaps yourself, needs a little guidance on file management, look no further. You finally have some help that will keep you from pulling your hair out and cursing at your computer for “eating” your important documents.
Six Tips To Assist You In Gaining Control and Managing All Your Folders and Files
1. Get Familiar With Using Windows Explorer
The biggest reason people don’t have the file management skills they need on a computer is because they don’t understand how to use Windows. If there is any tip you take away, it should be this: learn how to use Windows Explorer. Why?
Windows Explorer shows you the hierarchical organization of your computer’s drives, files and folders. It also displays network drives, which are designated with letters on your computer/laptop. Understand that Windows Explorer is your main tool for copying, renaming, moving and searching for folders and files.
Once you know how to wade through your computer’s drives and folders, you won’t be misplacing files again. To open up Windows Explorer, do the following:
Click Start, then All Programs, next Accessories and, finally, choose Windows Explorer. Be sure to read over How to Navigate Windows 7 with Windows Explorer, which can be found on Dummies.com.
2. Save All Your Information In One Location
It’s not that difficult to maintain organization of your folder and files, like you would in actual life. Most folks place their important documents in one location, which is known as the file cabinet. Your computer should be managed like a filing cabinet. Appoint one fundamental folder to place all your information in.
The easiest option at your disposal is to use Windows default “Documents” folder. Users of Windows XP will know the folder as “My Documents”. However, the latest Windows software Windows 7 calls it “User’s Files”. This is generally found on the desktop and labeled with your computer’s name.
This default folder will hold an array of other folders such as:
- My Documents
- My Music
- My Pictures
- My Videos
These subfolders allow you to group like files together. This setup makes it much easier for you to find your files. For instance, novice computer users will instinctively place their pictures in the computer “My Pictures” folder while placing their music into the “My Music” folder or their documents in the “My Documents” folder. This reinforces some good file management skills. It’s this kind of approach that enables persons to move or archive their files onto another system.
3. Lump Project Works Together
It might be worthwhile if you store all project components into one folder. If you’re building a website, it would be a good idea to store all the word documents, pictures and other files into that one folder so you can access it all at once instead of searching for it. Bear in mind that storing it under one folder will make it much easier to archive or move once you’re complete with the project.
4. Keep Names For Files Short
While Windows allows for 255 character file names, you should keep the name as short as you can. Longer file names are more difficult to read and the 255 characters will need to also take into account the whole file path. For example: you named a file “2012 Writing Documents” and placed it on the desktop. The path for the file would be a little like this:
C:\windows\users\username\desktop\2012 Writing Documents
In the end, the number of characters you have has doubled.
And, the number will continue to increase when you store files into subfolders, which could cause issues when you try transferring or archiving the files. How can you keep filenames short? Use shorthand to save your documents. For example:
- Use 09-11-01 for Sept. 11, 2001
- Use Pres for President
- Use Dept for Department
It’s the little things you do like this that will dramatically reduce your filenames’ length and easily readable.
5. Use Folders That Are Descriptive To Categorize Your Files
Folders break down your files so that they are easily distinguishable. Say you have books you’re turning into files such as Stephen King’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Rather than naming the file The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King, shorten it. Use folders to organize it better. For example, create yourself a folder naming it Stephen King. While in the folder, create a new subfolder calling it The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Finally, place the file in this folder.
Folders are very concise because it allows you to short the name of the file and store the book either by author or series so that you can find it quicker. Of course, this just doesn’t work for books but music, documents and other files. The more thorough you are in folder definition, the easier time you will have to find the files you need when you must have them.
6. Make Use Of Shortcuts
Shortcuts allow you to be productive while ensuring that your files are organized and maintained. Rather than copying word documents and other files to your desktop, create yourself a shortcut for it. This reduces the possibility of files being duplicated and keeps the files where they need to be.
And, if you accidently press delete on the desktop shortcut, you don’t have to recovery the shortcut file. After all, the original file is unaffected by the deletion of the shortcut file. Shortcuts can be used with any type of file and it’s simple to do. To create yourself a shortcut, do the following:
- Click on the file
- Right-click it
- Pick create shortcut
The shortcut file will show up in the same folder as your original file. How can you know if a file is an original or a shortcut? Shortcuts are easily identifiable by the small arrow in the lower left-hand side of the icon. To get it to the location you want, cut and paste it to the area you want it in such as your desktop.
That’s all there is to it to ensure your computer files and folders stay neat and organized. By using the above six tips, it reduces the possibility of you losing an important file when you absolutely need it.