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How to organize files on my Mac

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  • How to organize files on my Mac

    Ok for years I've had in my finder the following: Desktop, Documents, Photos, Music, Movies, Systems Pref., Me, Applications. Ok and I also use iphoto separately on my doc. Now I'm trying to reorganize this "mess" the GTD way.
    I've got a good desktop system to filter each item that I have to do something with. But that is not my problem. My problem is what to do about the way I have my finder set up. In docs I have certain themes and projects and some of the same in photos. Split up at times and then in the documents file I have both photos and docs in a folder. I understand now that I can set up a project say in the documents file and place all types of docs and media in the projects file. Here's my questions:
    1.) Where do you store your projects files? In docs file in finder, somewhere else?
    2.) If you have a file of photos you dip into now and then for various projects like a promotional photo of myself, where do you place and how do you label reference photos files of different subjects or themes. Again not being used for a particular project. Say I have 10 promotional photos of me.
    So I label the file "promotional photos of John" Where do I place this file? In docs file on the finder or where? In photos? Where do I place a file of docs then if not specifically used in a project?

    I hope you know where I'm going with all this. Trying to make sense of the files mentioned above. Thank you for all your help. If a thread exists please show me where please.
    3.)

  • #2
    Just went through the same process myself

    I just went through this myself, and found I also had to work within the constraints of where the operating system likes to default some of its business.

    The main approach I settled with was:
    • Separate folders for files by type (Data, Documents, Movies, Music, Pictures). These are files that might be used as reference material for more than one project.
    • A folder for projects (with subfolders by Area of Focus), with judicious use of links ("Aliases" in Mac speak) to reference documents in the file-type folders.

    Documents that pertain only to a given project (e.g. the project plan, a final report) will stay here for the life of the project. Upon completion, the project folder gets moved into the "Completed projects" folder. Any documents that might then go on to be reference material for further projects will either get moved to the appropriate file-type folder (e.g. the final report goes to the "Documents" folder in a subfolder called "Reports") or an Alias created there.

    The advantage of Mac Aliases over Windows shortcuts is that you can move the source file and the link doesn't break. The downside to this is that my Alias system won't work on shared drives (e.g. network folders) that are used by Windows users, since they can't access Aliases in Windows and I can't access shortcuts in OS X.

    Screenshot of my home folder atttached to illustrate.

    http://www.screencast.com/t/ODA5ZjU5MTY

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    • #3
      Originally posted by goshafad View Post
      1.) Where do you store your projects files? In docs file in finder, somewhere else?
      2.) If you have a file of photos you dip into now and then for various projects like a promotional photo of myself, where do you place and how do you label reference photos files of different subjects or themes.
      I store all my files in a folder called "office" that sits in documents. This name is pre-dates GTD, and even my movement to the Mac OS. In any event, that name is not relevant.

      What is relevant is the folders under that one. The organization is partly practical and partly historical.

      Key aspects of my system?

      * Files are always sorted in reverse date, so newest entries are near the top.
      * Folders and files are navigated using the keyboard, either in pathfinder or with quicksilver.
      * As an academic, my three main areas for projects are "meetings, posters, talks, symposia, courses" i.e. teaching events, "papers, projects and people" or research type events and "committees"
      Promotional photos? In my case they are stored in the folder "vita" along with my CV, biosketch and other items.

      Other photos are stored in folders under "Pictures" by trip or subject matter.

      This is a system that has evolved over 20 years, and the main thing is not the specific details, so much as it is a system where *I* know where everything goes and there is only one place where things are located. If I find myself regularly looking in multiple places something I change the system so that doesn't happen.

      - Don

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      • #4
        re: How to Organize Files on my Mac

        I've spent a lot of time working on a way to streamline all of my files and documents on the mac in accordance with GTD. It eventually led to my creating an entire approach for getting things done on the mac.

        There is your "Active System" (e.g., things you are currently working on, which would include your Inbox, Actionables, Waiting Fors, Reading, Someday-Maybe, Tickler, etc.) and then there is your "Reference" material (e.g., non-actionable things filed in a folder in your home directory called "Reference"). You can choose to work on things manually after everything is setup or you can use a set of scripts that walk you through learning the GTD Habits (e.g., Empty Your Head, Get Inbox to Empty, etc.). It'll even score you, give you a productivity report, and audibly coach you through your reviews.

        It's not for everybody, and it does take some getting used to, but I'm sure it would give you some ideas for how to better organize the stuff on your mac.

        Todd
        Last edited by Todd V; 07-02-2011, 12:15 AM.

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        • #5
          I have a folder Client_ClientName for each major client. That clusters them all together so I can find them. Files within that folder depend on how much work I've done for that client. Essentially as soon as a folder gets unwieldy, I'll create subfolders.

          General reference data -- as a writer I have a lot of it -- is almost all within DevonThink Pro and managed using its tools. The DTP database lives in my main Documents folder, since it cuts across many projects. Occasionally, I'll create a client-specific database, which lives in the appropriate client folder.

          Each client or major writing project has its own project file in Scrivener, my main writing tool. The project file contains mostly drafts, but also outlines, some research, and whatever other materials seem relevant. Again, I manage these using Scrivener's tools, and don't need to worry about their individual locations. The Scrivener project itself resides either in my main Documents folder or the appropriate client folder.

          I don't use images much, so iPhoto is sufficient for my needs. If you have a big library, you might want to consider a tool like Aperture. For a particularly graphics-heavy project I might make a "contact sheet" of the images and import it into either Scrivener or DevonThink. I use Curio for this, but its probably serious overkill if that's all you use it for.

          In case you can't tell, I am a huge fan of both Scrivener and DevonThink. If you do any kind of serious writing or data collection, these programs alone are sufficient reason to do it on a Mac. You owe it to yourself to check them out.

          Hope this helps,

          Katherine
          Last edited by kewms; 11-11-2009, 10:12 PM.

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          • #6
            Desktop organization

            I too have sought solutions for organizing folders and projects on the Mac. Somewhere (now I can't remember who shared this) I came across a way to keep your desktop clear: 5 simple folders that sit on the right side of my desktop labeled 0. Inbox, 1. Actions, 2. Incubate, 3. Current Projects, and 4. Archive. Everything gets thrown into the Inbox (downloads, email attachments, etc.). I use Actions for shorter-term, single actions. Incubate is for Read/Reference type material. Within Current Projects are separate project folders. Archive is like a big file cabinet, A-Z. These five simple folders have kept stuff on my Mac organized in a way that nothing else has (I'm a book publisher by day with a couple of freelance businesses).

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            • #7
              I have a slightly different way of looking at it:

              My Downloads folder is, essentially, my inbox. I process things out of that into their final homes. Those homes can be anywhere on my computer; I have one folder at the root level of my hard drive for music, for example.

              Thanks to Spotlight, I don't care much where these files exist; I can search for them and find them quickly.

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              • #8
                I use these folders

                1 Research
                2 Professional
                3 Teaching
                4 Other Work
                5 Personal
                6 Family and Friends
                7 Finances
                8 Home
                9 Health

                which are my areas of focus. I number the folders because that's the order I decided I wanted them to be in, and it's the way I organized my lists too (by folder in addition to context). Professional is research-related stuff, mostly talks and travel plans. Other work is administrative stuff, and alas the largest folder. Down from there every sub-folder is either a project or an area of responsibility, a 15,000 foot item if you like. An example of an area of responsibility for me is a committee I'm on. It's not a project, so there's no desired outcome, and it's not a focus area, just part of my current responsibilities. I'm still working on a good naming convention for folders at this level. There's really not too much in folders 5-9. Much of the day-to-day information coming in now flows into Evernote.

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                • #9
                  Great stuff

                  What do you put or not put in your photo file folder? Just personal stuff? Do you ignore it all together and create your own files irrespective? How do you use iphoto and how do you intergrate it with the photo file, if you are using a photo file folder? Then may I ask where do you place your projects in Docs? A separate file somewhere else?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Todd V View Post
                    I've spent a lot of time working on a way to streamline all of my files and documents on the mac in accordance with GTD. It eventually led to my creating an entire approach for getting things done on the mac.
                    Todd I like this and may end up purchasing it.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by goshafad View Post
                      What do you put or not put in your photo file folder? Just personal stuff? Do you ignore it all together and create your own files irrespective? How do you use iphoto and how do you intergrate it with the photo file, if you are using a photo file folder? Then may I ask where do you place your projects in Docs? A separate file somewhere else?
                      Who are you asking?

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                      • #12
                        everyone on this forum

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                        • #13
                          Ah, okay.

                          I don't use my "Pictures" folder; I keep all my photos in iPhoto (which, itself, uses the Pictures folder).

                          I don't place Projects in my Documents folder, per se. My Documents folder is part of my filing system, no different than my physical files.

                          For example, within my Documents folder is a Role-Playing Games folder. Within that are folders containing third-party PDF manuals, notes for games I intend to run, notes for games I've already run, systems I'm writing, etc.

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