Macs of the 21st century are loaded with files. Hundreds of thousands of files.
I just did a count on my Mac. There’s over 1.3-million files. Music. Video clips. Movies. Games. Digital photos. Hundreds of utilities and applications. It adds up.
What’s the best utility to manage the files on your Mac? Nothing. That’s right. Nothing. Yes, there are dozens of tools to help, few that actually, many that don’t.
I like checking out new Mac software to find something that can help me do better what I already do. With the growing number of files on my Mac I thought it might be worthwhile to find something to help manage those files.
It turns out that I already had the best organizing tool on my Mac. The Finder and folders. Seriously. It’s that easy.
I checked out a nifty little Mac utility called Records Master. It’s a tool that lets you collect files; important records, bank statements, bills, receipts, PDFs, anything, and it gets stored in a database.
Stuff documents, movies, images, passwords, to-do items, links, PDF files, right into Records Master. Yes, it’s merely one of a few dozen utilities that help us collect and organize stuff. It even encrypts files.
Guess what? After wandering around Records Master I figured out that my current method works as well, costs less, does more, but requires one thing that most of these Mac utilities try to avoid. A little “tough love.”
Organizing files and folders on your Mac takes some discipline, but it’s not difficult. My movie clips and videos go into the Movies folder. All my music, purchased or otherwise, goes into the Music folder. Photos? Yep, they’re always stuffed into my Pictures folder.
Those are the basics. Not exactly brain science or rocket surgery, either. What about everything else? Ah, that’s the catch. So, for many years I’ve kept everything else in my Mac’s Documents folder.
Financial records, PDFs, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, invoices, whatever else it is, gets tucked away neatly into my Documents folder, somewhat well organized.
If I can’t find a particular document or file that’s not where I thought I put it or where it should be, Spotlight seems to find it right away.
Backing up the Documents folder to a disk image, or a DVD, or to another Mac is mostly painless. Either drag and drop or use an automated sync utility. Either way, it’s less expensive than a separate utility.
Don’t get me wrong. I thought Records Master to be a good idea, especially so for those not as organizationally inclined. After all, it’s a single utility which stores and retrieves whatever you want.
Records Master gets a few good marks from readers at MacUpdate; even five stars here and there. Two things bothered me. One customer could not get the developer to help out with a lost password. The other is that Records Master is decidedly an old style Mac application, and looks pretty much like it did years ago.
Putting all my eggs in that basket didn’t seem wise, even at a modest, $24, so I rethought my ages old organization methodology and realized that it works pretty well. It’s safe, secure, duplicated, generally easy to get to a file.
For things like login IDs and passwords and serial numbers I use a specialized application called Steel. Inexpensive, easy to use, secure, and flexible.
For files that I need to store I’ve just organized my Documents folder appropriately. Receipts go into a Receipts folder. Documents go into a sub-Documents folder, organized by Word and Pages. Ditto for Excel files, PDFs, and so on.
Of course, my Mac’s Desktop gets a little messy and requires a time out while I sort, delete and file away various files that have piled up. That’s more or less just like my office desktop. The process requires a touch of the aforementioned tough love, but is effective and inexpensive.
Snippets of information are also files, right? What about those? Where do they go? For those items, I keep them segregated from more important files and use Together, another favorite.
Since the rebirth of the Mac and OS X I’ve collected a few hundred applications, utilities, tools which help me organize me, my Mac, and my life. I’m now convinced that there’s such a thing as too much organization, too much effort to organize and maintain, and not enough flexibility in many of the one trick ponies for Mac users.
Sometimes less is more, simple is beautiful. There’s also a good feeling knowing that your Mac is decently (as opposed to ‘perfectly’) organized, and files are easy to find, even if you do it the old fashioned drag and drop way.