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Tips for Organizing Computer Files and Folders

It usually doesn't take long for our PCs to become cluttered with files and folders. To make sense of the clutter, we need to devise a system for managing the files we create and download.

Organizing-computer-filesNSBA-LOGO This article from Microsoft lists nine ideas for managing your files and folders in Windows:

  1. Use the Documents feature, which is called Documents in Windows 7 and in Windows Vista and is called My Documents in Windows XP.
  2. Adopt consistent methods for file and folder naming. Develop a naming scheme for the kinds of files you create most often and then stick to it.
  3. Keep names short. Even though you can use long file names in Windows, they can be harder to read.
  4. Separate ongoing and completed work. To keep the Documents folder from becoming too unwieldy, use it only for files you're actively working on. Every month or so, move the files you're no longer working on to a different folder or location.
  5. Store like with like. Restricting folders to a single document type (or mostly one type) makes it easier to find files.
  6. Avoid large folder structures. If you need to put so many subfolders in a folder that you can't see all of them at a glance, consider creating an alphabetic menu.
  7. Use shortcuts and shortcut links instead of multiple copies.  If you need to get to the same file from multiple locations, don't create copies of the file. Create shortcuts to it instead.
  8. Quickly get to the items you use every day. Jump Lists, a new feature in Windows 7, are lists of recently opened items, such as files, folders, or websites that are organized by the program that you use to open them.
  9. Consider storing certain documents online. This allows you to easily access them from outside the office, share them, and edit them.

Another technique for making sense of all those files is by focusig your searches. You can use advanced features in Windows Search to quickly find the file you are looking for. Here are a few highlights from this article by Varun Kashyap for

  • Use the AND, OR and NOT boolean operators to fine-tune your Windows search
  • Use wildcards as well ('*' and '?')
  • Search by file kind using the kind: operator
  • Enclose your search term in quotes for exact matches
  • Use the size: operator to restrict searches by file size
  • Launch files directly from the Search window
  • Search by file properties

You can find guidelines for using the advanced features of Windows Search from Microsoft here.

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