Disciplined Directory Organization

Messy file organization leads to a cluttered Desktop and wasted time searching for files. Here are some techniques I’ve developed to keep my files and folders better organized:

1. Only save files in the Documents and Dropbox Directories
There is a tendency to dump files like travel_insurance, scrap_1, and scrap_2 in the Desktop directory. A cluttered Desktop is a telltale sign of a poor file organization system. Start by saving all the files you want locally in the Documents directory and all files you want backed up in the Dropbox directory.

2. Never save files directly in Documents or Dropbox, always create a subfolder if one doesn’t already exist
Don’t save a file like scrap_1 directly in Documents or Dropbox. Create a scrap/ directory and save the file in ~/Documents/scrap/scrap_1.

3. Don’t mix scrap files with files you care about
Scrap files like monday_todo_list should never be mixed with important files like asset_allocation_strategy – always put them in separate directories.

4. Use generalized directory names
The directory path to a file should start with general directories and gradually narrow down to a file. ~/Documents/programming/ruby/factorial.rb is much better than ~/Documents/factorial.rb.

5. Don’t ever save files in the Desktop directory
Always save files in the right directory as soon at they are created or right after they are downloaded. Files don’t usually get moved after they’re created, so it’s important to immediately put them in the proper directory.

6. Review your directory organization periodically
Every couple of months, review your directory structures and use the big-picture view to reorganize. Perhaps the ~/Dropbox/books/ and ~/Dropbox/book_notes/ directories should be consolidated in a new ~/Dropbox/reading/ directory.

7. Change the default setting so screenshots are not saved in the Desktop directory
Here’s a terminal command to save screenshots in the ~/Documents/screenshots/ directory:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location /Users/matthewpowers/Documents/screenshots

Sticking with the directory organization system requires discipline, but will save wasted time in the long run.


One thought on “Disciplined Directory Organization

  1. Pingback: Using Finder Effectively | Ruby/Rails Programming

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