"I can’t find that file" is a common refrain among computers users. However, keeping track of the files on your computer is really no more complex than keeping track of papers in your office. The key is to apply a few organizational tactics to the problem. Terminal slobs may have trouble with this concept, but even a modicum of organizational effort can save a lot of time in the long run. Follow these steps to avoid "losing" files ever again.
1. Create memorable and specific file names.
If you create a monthly budget file, do not call it budget.doc. Give it a name that actually says when or why you created the file, such as Smith Budget March 2007.doc. If you need to share files with people using other operating systems, you may need to use underscores or other characters instead of spaces (such as Smith_Budget_March_2007.doc).
2. Take the time to make folders
I believe that if more people simply took the time to create folders, many "lost" files would be a thing of the past. In Windows Explorer, you can create a folder in seconds simply by right-clicking in the file pane and choosing New| Folder. Create a folder structure that makes sense to you. If you don’t like putting files in the "My Documents" folder, don’t. Create new folders that are organized intelligently. When you save files, be very sure you put them in the right place. When you are downloading files from the Internet, it’s particularly easy to overlook where the file is being placed.
3. Put the name of the file in the document.
If you are drowning in papers, you can take a tip from big companies, which often include the name of the file in the document somewhere. Often you see the path typed into the header or footer of the document. Then, assuming your paper files are organized, you can find the original file on your hard disk, by finding the paper version first.
As with paper files, the most important thing is to come up with a system that makes sense to you. I have never lost a file because I have organized my folders the same way for years. Every time I move to a new computer, the arrangement stays the same. I’m a creature of habit, and by keeping the organization the same, I never wonder "gee where did I put that file?"