How to organize the files and folders on your computer

In addition to system files and folders there are typically two kinds of files on the computer: ones that are created by the user himself and others that are copied to a computer from elsewhere. Those who are frequent downloaders and duplicators have probably noticed that there are endless ways to name and organize your files and folders.

The more files and folders there is the harder it is to find the right information. Finding the right file from a messy computer can be very time consuming, therefore the systematic organization of files and folders can lead to considerable increase in productivity. In order to save valuable time and to protect the information files and folders should be called properly and organized in a coherent logic.

Convert dates to the ISO 8601 format

Using date as a part of folder and file names is the best way to organize and sort the data on your computer. Around the world, there are several ways how to display the date, but in order for your files and folders to be used in the best possible way in to sort them in the sequence of the ISO 8601: year-month-day. In this case, the computer sorts the files and folders starting from year, then the month and the last by day basis.

Adding time to date

In photo files it is fairly common that in addition to the date the time is added to the file name. For example: 2015-07-15-17-45-08. This means that the image was taken in 2015, in July, the 15th, at 17:45 and 8 seconds. Adding seconds to photo file is crucial because capturing more than one photos in one minute is quite common. The logic behind photo filenames is similar to the ISO 8601 format, with information displayed in direction from general to detailed.

Adding keywords and categories

The most important information about the files and folders is the contents of the file. The name should answer to the question of what the file or folder contains. For example, if a file is named just invoice.pdf, then finally the computer may have several files with the same name in it and in the worst case, a user could rewrite those files over and the previous information will be lost.

Keywords should be meaningful and relevant. For example, instead of invoice.pdf, file could contain more keywords like: invoice-recipient.pdf, invoice-recipient-date.pdf, invoice-sender-recipient-date.pdf or invoice-recipient-goods-date.pdf etc. Names should not be very difficult, but the important information about the file should be inside the name. If the files and folders are properly renamed then the computer sorts them in logical order, for example invoice by the recipient, sender, date, etc, which saves time and is also beautiful to look to.

Overall logic of the keywords sequence should be from general to detail. In this case, the computer displays the files and folders as they are sorted by categories and dates.

Adding versions of a document or file

Probably you've noticed that some computer programs or expansions have an indication of its version. For example, the 0.91 version of Inkscape vector drawing program or something alike. A similar logic can be used for your own file naming. The idea is that an upgrade or after a certain time intervals the contents of the file are saved into a new file with version added to its filename as a note. For example: thesis-course-v1.05. It means that the file has previously been saved into four previous versions, and if something should happen to a recent file or it is accidentally overwritten, it is always possible to use an earlier version of the file and minimize the risk of losing the previous work.

Adding clarifications and extensions

Sometimes there are many files in a computer with one and the same name. For example, the company logo is stored in multiple file formats. In such a case, it is good to add clarity to the filename extension, for example: Company-logo-jpg, Company-logo-png, Company-logo-pdf ... etc.

Using zero is important

If the filename contains a number, depending on the planned number of files, it is important to use a zero. For example: File-01, File-001, File-0001. If the filename does not have zeros inserted then for example File-1 and File-10 are located side by side in the folder, even though the file 10 should be between 9 and 11.

Additional information

Some file formats allow to add an additional detailed information or metadata into it. For example you can add artist, song name, comments, etc to a music files. You can also add author, keywords etc. In order to add additional information to the file you can open file properties and just modify it.

More recommendations

- Use big letters instead of space to save space: BigLetterIsGood.doc
- Keep file names short, yet informative
- Do not use unnecessary words that does not give information about the file
- If possible, use abbreviations, to shorten names
- If the filename is the name of a person, then write the surname first
- Develop a system that suits you

Too complicated is not good

Use the above-mentioned options as appropriate. The longer the filenames and folders are the slower it is to work with them. Use relevant keywords and keep names short but informative enough.

Last update: 2018-03-19 (Y,M,D)

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2015-10-25 How to organize the files and folders on your computer

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