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I've a sizeable collection of files (installation binaries, archives, etc - not "document" or multimedia) that is barely manageable and it is often difficult locate what I want, especially as some fit in to several locations (I recently found a copy of GraphViz in Development\Programming\Code Documentation, because the first time I downloaded it was to link with Doxygen). And arguably some things can belong in multiple places, and if you happen to look in the wrong one of those places the file is not found.

I'm willing to exert some effort to reorganise the store as I hope it will save me some time in the long run, so I'm looking for a setup that allows me to arrange the files so that each can be placed in to multiple "directories" - maybe some form of categorisation or tagging? Maybe I'm looking to define (searchable) metadata for the files?

I'd considered building something manually using symlinks, so that there are several links to a file from many directories, with the directories emulating categories. However, I'm concerned that might confuse my backup & sync setup, and has the potential to become harder to manage in the long run (especially regarding removing a file and finding all its links).

I know Win7 provides a fairly good search function (which I use) but I'd like the underlying files to be organised in a manner that allows me to search for types - so I could stick in "Graphics Editing" and get GraphViz that way, along with everything similar.

Any suggestions?

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Adding a small bounty to try and drum up some suggestions. Potentially I'm asking for something that does not exist, but lets see... –  DMA57361 Aug 7 '10 at 17:38
    
If something like what you want doesn't exist, it should! It's exactly the sort of thing I want for organising my files... –  Seamus Aug 8 '10 at 9:10
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7 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted
+50

I'm looking for a setup that allows me to arrange the files so that each can be placed in to multiple "directories" - maybe some form of categorisation or tagging? Maybe I'm looking to define (searchable) metadata for the files?

Tabbles does that and a lot more, check out the various links under the "What is it?" menu.

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I've installed this and had a brief look yesterday afternoon, and it looks very promising. I shall play with it properly over the next few days and see... –  DMA57361 Aug 9 '10 at 7:03
    
Have +75. I'm going to give this a longer trial run before I look at the paid version, but my inital impressions are pretty positive! Thanks. –  DMA57361 Aug 11 '10 at 7:47
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The mechanism you might be looking for is maybe "Libraries", introduced in Windows 7.

See this lifehacker introduction, Get to Know Windows 7 Libraries Inside and Out :

The new Libraries feature in Windows 7 makes it easier to manage your files and folders. Today we take a comprehensive look at everything you can do with Windows 7 Libraries.

The Libraries feature in Windows 7 provides a central place to manage files that are located in multiple locations throughout your computer. Instead of clicking through a bunch of directories to find the files you need, including them in a library makes for quicker access.

Microsoft makes available this introductory video: Organizing with Windows 7 Libraries, as well as this article.

This article may also be useful Windows 7 Libraries Explained – And Why You Want Them :

Windows 7 contains a set of libraries. Each one works that same way, and they all take the place of the standard folders in XP and Vista.

A Library can be treated like a folder with a group of subfolders inside it, and can also pull some nifty tricks all of its own. The important thing to remember is this: the subfolders are not actually stored in the library. They are just made to seem as though they are. Each library has some default contents, but you can change these, and also create new libraries if you wish.

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Libraries are incredibly useful, I've already got 9 - but they're fairly top-level. However, it might be useful having a few "category" libraries that link to several folders, or maybe if you could nest libraries. However, what would be most useful is having my File Store library work like the default Pictures - where you can arrange by tag to narrow down your selection. The problem is, AFAIK, you can't tag arbitrary files. –  DMA57361 Aug 8 '10 at 9:21
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maybe some form of categorisation or tagging? Maybe I'm looking to define (searchable) metadata for the files?

For tagging, there's a few decent looking options.

  • Tabbles - This looks really nice, but it's not free.
  • TaggedFrog - Freeware. Looks like it should do the job.
  • tag2find - Freeware. Appears to have more Explorer integration, if that's your thing.
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@DMA57361

I'd suggest Tabbles too, but I'm one of the guys behind it, so I'm maybe not 100% unbiased :-D

Tabbles was born to solve exactly the problem of placing a file in several folders. Plus, we also allow you to tell Tabbles "show me the files present in virtual folders "Photos" and "2010" but not in "Greece". Have a look at our videos

[this forum is cool, I should hang around here more often! :-D]

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You should, it's pretty awesome. (I've played with Tabbles and it's a nice piece of work, probably exactly what OP needs.) –  Shinrai Aug 10 '10 at 22:39
    
See my response to the e-mail you send me, it's very important! ;-) –  Tom Wijsman Aug 11 '10 at 11:00
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Maybe you won't need to organize the underlying files if you have a better search tool. Locate32 (http://www.locate32.net/) creates a database of all files on your computer, and searches are almost instantaneous. It even supports regular expressions in the search criteria.

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a good suggestion, but doesn't really seem to be what I'm after. It looks like it essentially gives the same sort of results as the built in search from explorer (although a lot faster!). –  DMA57361 Aug 7 '10 at 17:37
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GoogleDesktop is pretty good for searching through all files, and you can customise your search to certain types, eg. pics, executables, etc.

Easy to use too, it's always in your task bar.

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I'm looking for a setup that allows me to arrange the files so that each can be placed in to multiple "directories"

Hardlinks. If you're using a directory hierarchy to organize your files, you can continue to use it. Just put the file itself into multiple directories, but use hardlinks so you're actually only storing the file once. Link Shell Extension will make creating the links themselves easy to do.

Most backup software should be able to handle hardlinks or symlinks without issue. LSE makes tracking down all instances of a multiply linked file little more than a property sheet away.

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