Organizing Computer Files

Organizing computer files is a lot more important these days than many years ago. If you’re like me, my computer is where I do everything… photos, bills, letters, emails, you name it! And with all these computer documents, they need to be filed properly so you can find them!

I try to remind people that their computer files are very much like their paper files. There is a big giant metal filing cabinet called “My Documents”. Within the filing cabinet you will have several large categories such as photos, letters, music, projects, etc. Only you can determine what type of main folders you will need, depending on your computer projects and tasks. Within each of those folders you will have subcategories that you will want to label appropriately to make them easy to organize and locate. There is no right or wrong way of doing this, as long as the folders and sub-folders make sense to you!

For example, under My Documents, I have My Photos and under that I have 2008 Family Photos. And I break that down even further, within that folder, I have the following categories: 2008 Christmas, 2008 Florida Vacation, 2008 Birthdays. If you’re a visual person, as I am, then seeing it like this is easier:

  • My Documents
    • My Pictures
      • 2008 Family Photos
        • 2008 Florida Vacation
        • 2008 Birthdays
          • Jason’s 4th Birthday
          • Amanda’s 2nd Birthday
        • 2008 Christmas
      • 2007 Family Photos
        • 2007 San Diego Vacation
    • Recipes
      • Main meals
      • Desserts
        • Cookies
        • Cakes
        • Frosting
      • Side Dishes

The above is just an example from my own computer. Each of the categories above is a file folder. I hope this gives you a clear picture for organizing computer files. These files make sense to me when I’m trying to find something. You may have gone another route and that’s great. Do what works best for you in order to find your files easily.

More Tips for Organizing Computer Files

  • Use file names that make sense and are easy to identify.

  • If you save more than one version of something, make sure you name your file accordingly so you can easily identify it (letter_v1.doc, letter_v2.doc, etc.).

  • When saving a file, check to make sure they’re going to the right location. Check the path (my documents/Recipes/Desserts/Cakes/chocolate cake). It’s no fun wondering where your document went!

  • Purge files that you no longer need. They don’t hurt anything but they do make it harder to find what you ARE looking for.

  • Back up files regularly, either to an external hard drive or burn them to a CD.

  • You can organize your files alphabetically or by date. I prefer to have them by alphabet, but use what works best for you.

  • These tips for organizing computer files can also pertain to how you save and file emails that you receive. Make folders relating to certain topics or regarding certain projects and keep them all together.

  • Find a method that works for you and start managing it as soon as possible. It’s easier to pick a system and use it than to go back later and try to resort years of data. So start as soon as you can, and stick with it!

  • It’s ok to experiment with filing methods until you find what works best for you. In regards to organizing digital photos, as a new Mom, I started saving photos by my child’s first month, second month, etc. You can see where that was headed! A big problem after the first year, and once the second kid is born! I also tried to organize my computer files by event (Christmas, Halloween) and use the year as the subcategory. But now I’m just collecting family photos for the year and doing subcategories under that (2008 Family Photos – Christmas, Easter, etc.). So play around with things a bit until you find what works for you.

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