I’m not talking about application files or Mac system files. Application files usually keep themselves neatly tucked away in the Applications directory (folder). That makes them easy to find, easy to update, easy to trash.
Mac system files in OS X are different system files in previous Mac OS versions. Some files could be moved nearly anywhere and the Mac ran just fine (usually). Still, I don’t muck much with Mac OS X’s system files. Let ‘em stay where they’re supposed to—out of sight and doing the job.
What I’m upset about is the growing number of OTHER files on the Mac. Not just digital photos, music files, or Word documents. Everything is getting out of hand.
I was pleased with Mac OS X’s revisions which placed digital movies in a handy Movies directory. iTunes music was thoughtfully placed in the Music directory. Digital photos show up in the Pictures directory. That’s logical, handy, good for backups and copies, right?
What about everything else? The mess has only just begun and I don’t think having a super duper double deluxe triple distilled faster than instant search utility is going to help.
First, for me, nearly everything else in the way of user generated files goes into the Documents directory. Every Mac user’s organization of the Documents directory will be a bit different, but it’s a handy place to store, well, nearly everything else.
I have old ClarisWorks documents, old Photoshop files, PDF files, Canvas files, a bunch of Microsoft documents in every flavor—.doc, .xls, .ppt. There’s also a gazillion other graphics files of one kind or another left over from versions of Canvas, Freehand, Aldus PageMaker, and many more.
There’s hundreds of spreadsheets from career paths gone awry, nearly that many PowerPoint presentation files from show ‘n tell sessions that no one remembers—files too valuable to throw away, too many to go through the agony of organizing them instead of watching TV.
In the Documents directory I have other folders which help sub-divide the mess. Of course, this is just MY mess; the files I’ve kept through the years, haven’t organized, don’t want to throw away (now that hard drive space is huge and cheap at the same time), but don’t know what to do with.
Still, it’s a mess. A huge mess. And it’s a mess that’s getting worse by the day.
I want a utility that will help organize all those files. Something that allows me to do a “drag and drop” into a marked directory (or, on the application icon itself).
Then, the “organizing” utility will tell me what kind of file it is, and suggest where it be stored, show me a large enough thumbnail of the file that I can identify it; perhaps even creating a sub-directory structure for me.
Then, I don’t have to think about where I want files to go. All I have to do is drag the file to the proper directory and it gets stored in the appropriate sub directories. Automatically.
And, a couple of clicks should be all that’s required to generate a report about which file is where. Yes, in 2005 we’ll have Tiger and Spotlight search, but that won’t change my behavior much—I’ll be just like everyone else; still searching all over my Mac for files.
Mac users deserve an application that helps organize all those other files the way iTunes, iPhoto handle music and pictures.
Of course, these are user files; my files, your files, the files we generate, receive, keep, and don’t organize as we should.
That brings me to another point regarding the File Mess on Mac OS X. How about the files generated by applications? They’re all over the place, too. Read on. Click Here for Page 2…
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That brings me to another point regarding the File Mess on Mac OS X. How about the files generated by applications? They’re all over the place, too.
For example, some applications store their files in logical places, many do not. iTunes and iPhoto files are stored where you’d expect; in the application or in the Home directory/folder. Mostly.
In the System/Library/Application Support directory, there’s all my GarageBand loops. And directories from Adobe, Apple, Macromedia, Mozilla, and a couple dozen other utilities on my Mac.
In the Home/Library/Application Support directory, there’s even more directories from every utility you can think of. What a mess. Some here, some there. Some are, well, somewhere else and God only knows where that is.
Yes, I know it’s important to segregate applications for all users vs. those for a single user (mine is a single user machine—my significant other isn’t allowed to touch), still finding files, tracking down problems, can be a headache. There’s Fonts for everyone, and Fonts for just me.
There’s mail for me and for each other user, but not for everyone. And don’t get me started on Preferences. Aren’t there any rules on how those should be laid out in the Preferences directory?
The com.apple.whatever.plist I can understand. What about cf#f4Bwl? What’s that mean? Some prefs files have icons, some don’t. Some are cryptic, others have a full, easily identifiable file name.
Obviously, there’s more to the System and Library directories than most Mac users want to know, need to know, should know. But it’s not a hands off area. Sometimes you have to go in there and do stuff. And some of those files just shouldn’t be moved around.
The gripes could go on, but I don’t think we’re going to feel as good about an instant Search function (due next year) as we’d like. It’s bound to turn up a lot more junk on our Macs than we should even look at, let alone check to see what it is.
I want that utility to help me organize my files, then give me a search utility that brings them up without looking (too hard). As to the rest of the Mac’s file organization mess, it seems to me that “loops” for GarageBand should go in Music (or, at worst, a directory appropriately named GarageBand Music).
Finally, I have a problem with iMovie movies. They’re not searchable.
To see the clips in any iMovie project you have to open the project, hope you left the movies on the Shelf, or at worst, click on each media clip in the Media directory of the project.
There needs to be other iPhoto, iTunes-like applications (besides the ultra expensive iViewMedia Pro—have you seen the price tag on that these days?) that help document and store non-music, non-photo files.
What do you think? What’s your take on the file mess? What do you use to keep track of files, documents, junk?
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