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What’s the best way to keep my files and folders organized on an OS 10.11 Mac?

Keeping your files and folders organized helps keep critical and relevant information easily available, and avoids frustration searching for something you know is on your Mac "somewhere."  How your files and folders are organized can also impact overall computer performance.  

Here are some guidelines for best practices for File and Folder management in Mac OS 10.11:

Create "Big Picture" folders

Create a few "Big Picture" folders by subject or resource type. Organize related files into subfolders within the "Big Picture" folders. Keep the "Big Picture" folders in your Documents folder, and create an alias to place on your Desktop or drag the folder to your dock as a shortcut. Remember, an alias or item in the Dock is not the actual file or folder, just a link to it. If you create an alias and then trash the original item the link will be broken, and if you empty the trash the file or folder will be gone for good. The same applies to items dragged to your dock. When you click on an icon in the dock, the operating system knows to go find the original. If the original item is trashed and the trash is emptied, the icon in the Dock won't work any more. Note: Only items in the Desktop and Documents folders are backed up by the district backup system, so anything in the Pictures, Movies, and Music folders; the Trash; or otherwise not in the Desktop or Documents folders will not be backed up

Minimize the number of items on your Desktop

It's tempting and easy to save everything to your Desktop and then use Spotlight or a Finder window to find your files. Doing so will slow your computer down. Why? Well, every icon on your Desktop is a little window, and as such, when there are many items on the desktop the operating system has to constantly redraw, track, and verify each icon (how often depends on the refresh - Hz - rate set for the display as well as other factors). When there are oodles of icons on the Desktop there is less OS muscle available for other tasks. Remember, it's not how large the files are or how much the file sizes total up to, it's how many items there are on your Desktop.

Avoid duplicating items

If you suspect there are multiple copies of an item on your computer, open a Finder window and use spotlight in the upper right corner of the window to search for the item and see if more then one copy is on your computer. Select View --> Show Path Bar from the Finder menubar. As you select each item in your search results, the path showing where the item lives will display along the bottom of the Finder window. View the results as a list in the Finder window and click on the Date Modified column to sort the results in date order and identify the most recently used copy of the item. Move unnecessary copies to the Trash.

Store seldom used files/folders in your staff server folder

Save seldom used items to your server folder until you need them. You can learn more about how to connect to your server folder in kb article #64 How do I connect to my server folder. Items you save to the server will be available if needed and district servers are backed up every day. When you log in to your computer, your server shares are automatically mounted on your computer Desktop for convenient access.  You can access your server folders when off campus at the website Instructions for using webfile are in kb article #90 Can I access the file server from home?

Use Google Docs

Create documents in Google Docs and they'll take no space or extra OS muscle at all! You'll also be able to collaborate and utilize the other unique features available only in Google Docs. 


Apple Overview of File/Folder management and tools:

Ways to organize files on your desktop

Organize files in folders

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