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How to organize files and folders on Windows PC

We’ve all experienced the frustration of looking for a document on our computer that you know is there but, no matter how hard you search, just can’t find the file you need. You can use File Explorer’s search tool, of course. But you’ll need to remember at least part of the name of the file for that. If you can’t, though, you’ll need to trawl through folders to find it. That is, of course, if you use folders. Lots of us still leave files lying on the desktop or loose in My Documents. It’s chaos.

It doesn’t have to be like that, get organized and your files will be much easier to find. Organizing files and folders might sound like the kind of boring job that you can put off until another day, or get round to doing when you have nothing better to do. Don’t. Start today.

Ways to organize files on Windows

One place for all documents

Store all your files in the My Documents folder. That way, when you need to search for one, you can eliminate other folders on your PC, making it much quicker. Don’t store them loose in My Documents, however. Use sub-folders to organize documents of different types.

Name sub-folders logically

It’s much easier to find files if the folders you put them in have names that mean something to you. So think carefully about how you want to organize documents before you start. Having one folder for all your PDF invoices is fine when you start out, but after a few months or years, finding the file you need becomes tricky. So, create a folder for the current year, then inside that, create one for the current month. And then add new folders for each new month as they come around. Do the same when a new year comes along.

Clean up PC clutter

Getting rid of files you don’t need doesn’t just keep your PC tidy and well organized, it can help it run faster too. Whether it’s uninstalling apps or clearing out Windows’ Registry, it’s a good idea to give your PC a regular spring clean.

We recommend you try CleanMyPC. It makes it easy to uninstall lots of apps with one click and can clear out Windows Registry database very quickly and easily. Download CleanMyPC and start bringing your PC into order.

Make file names descriptive

You might think that if you store files in lots of sub-folders, you don’t need to worry too much about the name. For example, if you create one invoice a month for a client, you could just call it “clientname_invoice” and save it in the folder for the current month. What happens if you need to share that file, though? The name could create confusion for the person you share it with. It’s better to be descriptive in a file name, even if that replicates part of the sub-folder name. It will also help Windows find it if you need to search for it.

Use consistent naming conventions

Naming conventions are important, especially if you work as part of a team and even more so if that team is based in more than one location. If everyone sticks to the same naming conventions, everyone else knows what to search for when they’re looking for files. If the naming convention includes a date, it also reduces the chance of having multiple files with the same name.

Even if you work on your own, having naming conventions means you don’t have to think about what name to give a file when you save it.

Use abbreviations carefully

The downside of using descriptive filenames is that they can become very long. The answer is to abbreviate words. However, you need to be careful how you do this. You probably won’t have any trouble working out that ‘Feb’ is February, but other abbreviations may mean very little in a few months when you’re looking for the file.

File documents immediately

When you create a document and save it, save it to its correct folder straight away. Don’t put it on the desktop and rely on your future self to come along and tidy it away. They won’t thank you for it.

Archive files regularly

If there are documents that you’re unlikely to need in the future, archive them. Copy them to an external disk or online storage service and then delete them from your computer. Don’t forget to keep a backup of your archive and make sure you name archives with the date they were created so you can find documents easily again.

Create 'Favorites' for regularly used folders

Windows’ Favorites menu sites on the left hand side of every window and if you store folders you need to regularly access there, you can find them easily,, with when you want o access a file inside them and when you want to save a file to them. To add a folder to Favorites, just drag it onto Favorites in the sidebar.

Organize your notes

If your the type of person who keeps Notepad files or word processing documents full of notes on your desktop, it’s time to change. Replace those scraps of notes with tool like Evernote or OneNote. Both these apps will keep your notes safe and allow you to add more as well as tag and search for them. Best of all, they’re all kept in one database file, so they don’t clutter up your PC.

Keeping your PC organized may seem like a painful and laborious process, but it doesn’t have to be. By adopting a few simple rules and conventions and being disciplined enough to stick to them, you can make it very simple. Combine that with using CleanMyPC to get rid of files you don’t need, and a backup tool to archive those files you might need in the future, your PC will run smoothly and securely for years to come.

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