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I realize that users here are very savvy and I'm looking for a better way to organize my files.

Currently I have two very important folders that are filled up with a ton of files which makes it super hard to track a file down.

I have a documents folder which contains an upwards of 5,000 or so documents. I use this to keep my school work, work-related documents, personal documents, and even a few dozen eBooks I get from dropbox. The files are either in PDF, doc(x), .pages, or PSDs, there might be a few powerpoints and keynotes but not too many.

So I have no idea where to start to organize all this. I thought organizing it chronologically or alphabetically might help, but usually some stuff is copied over all at once so the modification date changes and I get lost or the name contains non-alphabetic characters like "_" or "@" and numbers as well.

If you're organizing files a certain way, I would like to know.

Edit: I'm on a Mac, but spotlight's no good if I can't remember the file's name. :/

Mods: please move this to a different Stack Exchange portal if this is not where it belongs. Thank you.

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Why don't you sort it categorically? Does it not lend itself to this? (Also, I don't really think this is quite on-topic, but I can't think of a better place...) – Shinrai May 2 '11 at 22:40
up vote 3 down vote accepted

For structure (building on previous commenters post re: archiving the lot of it) I like to have several main level folders (within Documents) to help out with the organization. You listed several: school work, work, personal, and eBooks. You can take a few minutes to map out how you think about each of these area in order to determine if another level of folders would be helpful or not. For ex. in School Work, you might have folders for Biology, Psych, and Classics (I was a Classics major).

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I've ended up doing this regarding my major and it really helps – Muhammad Usman May 8 '11 at 3:08

If you want, you can take advantage of the tagging feature that Windows (and most other OSs) have by tagging files with appropriate keywords. You can then use your file browser's search utility to find them quickly. In Windows, make sure that the indexing service indexes these folders (it is already if they're in your user home) so that searching will be fast.

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I'm on mac. Let me edit the question to be more clear :) – Muhammad Usman May 2 '11 at 22:51
I'm pretty confident that OS X has a similar feature, but unfortunately I'm not familiar enough to say how to use it. – jcrawfordor May 2 '11 at 22:52

I'd guess 90% of this will not get touched again. If that's the case. Don't worry about the existing files. Consider how to organize going forward and build that structure. Add any new files to it as you move forward. move all the old files into a new directory (your archive) and as you use files out of the archive file them in the right place in your new structure.

A year from now, compress what's left and forget about it.

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I never thought of that. There's a lot of old stuff I don't use at all. Thanks! – Muhammad Usman May 3 '11 at 23:52

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