Super simple sorting: Organize your files


A friend of mine is moving to a new home and getting a new computer at the same time. Hard to say which will be the most disorienting... Anyway, she's one of those people who doesn't have a lot of files, so she just keeps them all in her My Documents folder. She has a few dozen spreadsheets, a few Word documents, and piles of pictures.


To make it easier for her to figure out what to keep and what to move, we started by sorting all the files by date to pinpoint old stuff that she could simply delete. (That's what I did in the first image below. These, by the way, are some old files of mine, not my friends.) Then we sorted them by type so we could create separate CD backups for documents, spreadsheets, and pictures. (The second image below is sorted by file type.)



Here are the same files, sorted by type.



My friend was surprised to see me just click on the column headings for name, type, and date to sort the files by these categories. All we had to do was switch to the Details view in any file folder in Windows XP. (Note that you can also quickly see thumbnail images of your files by clicking on that option in the Views menu, which is really handy for looking at your pictures.)


For more tips on organizing files, check out these articles: Filing frenzy! Organize your documents on your PC and 7 Tips to Manage Your Files Better For more information about viewing files, check out the Viewing Files and Folders Overview in the online documentation for Windows.



Robbin Young

Comments (10)

  1. jesusg (jesusg@naemas.com) says:

    Your tip is wonderful, but it only applies to the files contained in one folder a time.

    If you want to sort and locate the files contained in a folder and its subfolders, you can do it using ‘Search’.

    When you search for an empty name, you obtain all the files from the selected folder and its subfolders, and you can sort the resulting view the same manner as in your tip 😉

  2. Philipp Lerm says:

    I have some folders I like to sort per date modified. This leaves me the latest file at the top of the list. The only thing I do not like about this, is that the Folders I have in same directory, are at the bottem of the list. Is there not a way to sort per date modified, but leave the directories at the top. This means the directories at the top, and the latest file starting just below them.

    Thank you

    Regards

    Philipp Lerm.

    PhilippLerm@Absamail.co.za

  3. LagBolt says:

    If you prefer icons or tiles to the detailed list shown above — if you’re a more visual person — you can still organize your files by type using Arrange Icons by -> Type together with Arrange Icons by -> Show in Groups.

    I’ve found this layout useful when a folder is so disorganized I can’t see straight — or before my first coffee in the morning.

    Graeme Williams

  4. susan herries says:

    great idea!!!!!!!!

  5. MSDN Archive says:

    Philipp raises a qood question: "I have some folders I like to sort per date modified. This leaves me the latest file at the top of the list. The only thing I do not like about this, is that the Folders I have in same directory, are at the bottem of the list. Is there not a way to sort per date modified, but leave the directories at the top. This means the directories at the top, and the latest file starting just below them."

    I’m with you, Philipp, that bugs me too. But I’ve not found a way to have all the folders first, then the files sorted by date. I think it’s because Windows sees everything as a file, even a folder.

    Anyone have ideas for being able to sort a directory so the folders appear first, then the files sorted by date?

  6. Nathan Shaw says:

    Great tip.  I train people to organize files on computer by creating categorised folders and sub-folders thus storing everything in a logical hierarchy.

    Here’s an article http://www.organizedr.com/b/

  7. When we started the At Home and At Work Web sites, we thought that most of the reader questions we’d

  8. Bruce Donnelly says:

    Jesusg asked what to do if you have several folders.  You can get a "mindmap" program that imports file structures into a tree-like format.  Then, you can look at the folders all at once.  So, if you have one folder with five sub-folders and each of those has five sub-sub-folders, you can see the whole tree at once, and the files inside each.  Then, you just click on the link to open the file.  If you search for "mindmap," you’ll find a few paid and one free mindmap programs.  Look for ones that can import folder structures.

  9. As our American Legion Post Historian and Webmaster, I have thousands of files to keep organized and updated. I created 24 folders on the desktop labeled A thru Z. All American Legion Post Historian files go into a sub-folder in the A folder marked Historian. Personal files go into the P folder. Mailing List and Microsoft files go into the M folder. Personal files go into the P folder, etc. Some of these Alphebetical Folders have as many as 20 or more sub-folders. Four  additional folders are on my desktop marked, Must Do Now, Daily To Do, Things To Do ASAP, and System Tools…with Shortcuts to Add Or Remove Programs, Disk Cleanup, System Restore, etc…for easy access to these Computer operations. All of these files are backed-up weekly on two external drives, by creating one Folder marked Backup with the date, and draging all the Alphebetical Folders on the desktop into this one folder. Send the Backup folder to the external drives and when completed, drag the Alphebetical Folders back to their Alphebetical positions on the Desktop. Each of the Backup Drives then contain many "dated" Backup Folders for any needed future reference.

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