My Mac’s file structure remains pretty much the same today as it did 10 or 15 years ago. I keep nearly everything—files, folders, documents, and stuff—in two places. My Documents folder, and my Desktop.
With hard drive space so cheap these days has file organizing become a lost art? Do we need to worry about saving space on a hard drive?
The answer to the former may depend on our definition for organizing. Just dumping all files and folders into the Documents folder is a form of organizing, but the end result still may not be organized.
Yes, hard drives are so huge these days that we keep more files than we should, but if you’re a notebook user with plenty of music and photos and video, hard drive space, even at 500-gigabytes for a notebook, is precious.
Organizing and storage management are not things of the past, though Mac users take different paths to each.
A mere $13 gets you a Mac utility called WhatSize. It’s a nearly one trick pony which searches your Mac for files, then displays a wonderful list of what’s on your Mac’s hard drive—files, folders, caches, hidden files, whatever.
Knowledge is power. The more you know about the files that clutter your Mac, the better equipped you’ll be to find and save space on your Mac.
But WhatSize doesn’t help you organize files, only find them for you.
WhatSize scans your Mac quickly, then lists the files and folders in both physical and logical size, but doesn’t tell you which files are OK to discard vs. files that you absolutely, positively cannot be without.
Granted, that’s not an easy task, but if you’re going to spend money to find files on your Mac that you may not need, then it would be nice to know which ones they are, and whether it’s safe or not to throw them away.
At the other end of the find all files and folders spectrum of Mac utilities is Tidy Up!, known as a duplicate finder and disk tidiness utility.
Not only does Tidy Up! help you find files, folders, packages, but gives you more search capability than Spotlight. Search for files by owner, type, extension, modification time and date, label, creation time and date, creator and more.
The key to saving disk space and eliminating files or folders of files you may not need helps when you can find duplicate files. I was astonished to learn that I had a few thousand duplicate photos and hundreds of duplicate music files on my Mac.
Tidy Up!‘s $30 price tag means you get more for your money. It also lets you keep one file of a duplicate group, has the ability to undo copy and move files, and can restore what you dumped into the trash (before you emptied the trash, of course).
WhatSize bothered me a bit because it identified files only by size and location, not by value, so any kind of UnDo before trash emptying is appreciated.
So is the Tidy Up! Strategy Wizard. Wizard sounds so Microsoftian, but in this case the Wizard checks and searches your Mac’s file, and creates a Smart Basket so you can see which files are ready to be deleted.
This is a very cool feature because it allows you to separate files and prepare for deletion without actually deleting.
Still, I have yet to find a utility that knows the difference between files or folders that must be maintained, cannot or should not be deleted, and the extra, duplicate files here and there that clutter up a Mac’s hard drive.
Yes, easier said than done. After all, once you get your Mac into the 500-gigabytes of hard drive space, and beyond, why bother to even search for files you don’t need?
It’s easier just to dump those files your think you need into your Mac’s Documents folder, right?
While both WhatSize? and Tidy Up! are handy utilities, I have to ask, How handy? Do Mac users really need a comprehensive utility to search, find, categorize, and list files and folders?
Other than OCD, what’s the purpose of such a utility that may not compete well against the free effort of simple organization of the Documents folder and a prudent use of Spotlight?