Organizing Computer Files & How to Set Up an Organized Filing System

Organizing computer files and creating an organized filing system can save time and energy every time you need to find a file in the future.



Sometimes filing documents on a computer can be a huge challenge. You’re completely free to create a filing system that works for you, but before all of your files end up piled who knows where bring order to your hard drive. Just think of all the time and energy you’ll save every time you need to find a file in the future after organizing computer files.



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Here are a few important tips on organizing computer files:

  • Set up broad category folders within My Documents (in Windows) or on your hard drive (in Mac OS). Use label names that fit the content within your files. For example: “contributions09” file would be filed in the folder “Contributions”.
  • Set up subfolders within each category. For example: sort financial documents by year or type, and family-related documents by person.
  • Use the computer’s sorting function. Put “AAA” (or a space) in front of the names of the most used folders and “ZZZ” (or a bullet) in front of the least used ones, so the former float to the top of an alphabetical list and the latter go to the bottom. Or use 01, 02, 03 and so on.
  • Specify the default folder your computer saves files in. This is usually done in the Word Options menu located under your Office Button (left upper corner of screen) in very bottom of screen in Microsoft Word 2007 for Windows XP, for example, pull down the Office Button menu to Word Options (very bottom), click on Save tab, under Offline Editing Options… is Server Drafts Location- you can modify here or leave under documents which is the default.
  • Sort files to suit your needs. Sort by date, example: you need to find the file that you have worked on most recently. In Windows XP pull down the View menu (left of Tools), click Arrange Icons By, and choose Modified. Mac users should click on the window they want to sort, pull down the View menu to As List, then select By Date Modified.) Or sort by kind or type to group all spreadsheets.
  • Use file names for your documents that are meaningful. Example: A file named Resume is less useful than Resume Sales 10 2004.
  • Keep fine tuning your filing system so that it works better and better to fit your needs. Example: Rename or rearrange folders, and archive or trash inactive ones. Avoid duplicating folders, especially those containing photos or other large files; you’ll fill up your drive and create confusion.
  • Use the Save As feature when you want to keep an unchanged version of a document. You’ll need to specify a new file name, which you can base on the old one or change altogether. This trick from old-school computer geeks is still a good one: Add V1, V2, V3 and so on at the end of a file to track versions of a document you’re modifying over time.
  • Reserve your desktop for items that need immediate attention. When you’re done working with them, file them in the proper folder. Try not to store documents long-term on your desktop.

Organizing computer files will probably be one of your most productive tasks that you will do all year if you work on a computer as much as I do.


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