Organise your files

If it takes you an age to find the files you want, read on as Windows shows you how to bring order to your chaotic filing system...

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By  Cleona Godinho Published  August 1, 2006

|~||~||~|With PCs and laptops boasting bigger hard drives than ever before it’s easy to create piles of files. Fortunately, the following steps will help you file your documents more logically and so find them more easily. Direct your files The first step in creating your e-filing system is to create a structure. Let’s say you have a filing cabinet where you store your paper files. If files for different projects were placed all into one main folder, you wouldn’t be able to find anything! Microsoft Windows XP automatically sets up a folder called ‘My Documents’ where you can save your files. However, if you save your files in this folder, without using subfolders, you will have trouble finding what you need. Just as with paper files, you should save your documents to subfolders, which are sometimes referred to as subdirectories. File away It is important to place all your folders into one main folder (a.k.a directory). This makes backups easy, as you can then simply burn one folder to a CD. You can use ‘My Documents’ as your main folder, or you can create your own folder. We created a directory called a_janice on our drive C. (Note: If you put the letter ‘a’ followed by an underscore in front of your name , your folder will always be the first folder in the list, making saving files faster.) In your main directory, create subfolders for each of the main categories of documents you save. Don’t be concerned about the type of document (word processing, spreadsheet and so on) that you are filing, just think about its category. For example, you could use the following subfolders: - a_janice/business - a_janice/personal - a_janice/vacation. Now in each subfolder, you can create additional folders. In your business folder, you could include the following folders: Articles, Backups, Requests and Contracts. Location is everything Each time you create a document, save it in the appropriate subfolder. For instance, if you create a new contract for your client make sure you save it in the Contracts subfolder. To save a file in the desired subfolder, click ‘Save As’ on the File menu, and then navigate to the correct subfolder. Note: In Microsoft Word, you can change the default folder to which files are saved. On the ‘Tools’ menu, click Options, and click ‘File Locations’. In the list, click Documents, and then navigate to your main directory; in this example, a_janice. Although where you save your files is important, the name you assign you them can make or break your filing system. We suggest you give your files names that will be easy to identify later. For instance, save contracts in the format: YYMMDD CLIENT PROGRAM and save it in a_janice/business/contracts/2006. Now all the contracts in that folder will be listed in chronological order. Photo filing Once you’ve taken pics with your digicam, the temptation is to rush and get the photos on your PC. This is where discipline is needed. There are four tasks you should perform to organise your pics well. Firstly, download your pics onto your hard disk. Next, edit them (e.g. get rid of red eye, etc). Now give each file a meaningful name with a date – so instead of ‘HP1010012’ use ‘Kevin on the beach July 11’. Finally, save them in the appropriate folder. For instance, c://a_janice/vacation/US. ||**||

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