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Manage files in OS X your way

By Macworld staff
June 4, 2009 06:17 PM ET

Macworld - OS X's basic tools for finding and managing files--the Finder and Spotlight--are fine. But savvy users find ways to make them better. For some, that means making the Finder work better, with smart folders and meticulous filing systems. For others, that means turning to some third-party utilities that let them manage files their way.

Smarter smart folders

In the Finder, I've set up a bunch of smart folders that keep track of related files. Some of my handiest smart folders collect Microsoft Word files with Mac 911 in the title (File Name Contains Mac 911, Kind Is Other Microsoft Word); BBEdit files containing blog as a keyword (Kind Is Other BBEdit, Keywords Contains blog); and files larger than 1GB, which I periodically review to see whether any can be archived or thrown away to free up disk space (Size Is Greater Than 1 GB). I keep these and other smart folders in the Finder sidebar; I also plant key ones in my DragThing Frequently Used palette. (The original smart folders can be found at the /Library/Smart Searches folder in my user folder.)--Christopher Breen

Super filing

Some people dump all their files into one folder and then use Spotlight to find the files they need. But for me, Spotlight is too slow and unreliable to use for regular file finding; it's also of little help when I want to find a document on another networked Mac. I still find it most useful to keep my documents organized meticulously into folders. I have several general ones (Finances, Macworld, and so on) in my user folder's /Documents folder. Inside each of those folders are folders for each year. Inside each of those folders are folders for specific products and articles--200905 iPhone Tricks, for example, and 20090310 Mac mini Review. I also include dates in my document names. Compulsive? Perhaps. But using that file hierarchy, I can find most documents by myself faster than Spotlight can.--Dan Frakes

Find files with Quicksilver

I use Quicksilver to quickly access commonly used files and folders. Quicksilver's Shelf is like a permanent Clipboard; it can store links to files and folders, as well as reusable text snippets. To enable the Shelf, launch Quicksilver, press Command-; (semicolon) to open the Catalog, select Modules, and then select Shelf And Clipboard. That done, you can add a file link to the Shelf by finding the file in Quicksilver (just type the first few characters of its name) and then tabbing to the Action pane and selecting Put On Shelf. (If that doesn't work, make sure Put On Shelf is activated: press Command-, [comma] to pull up the Preferences pane, select Actions, type shelf in the search field, and make sure Put On Shelf is selected.) To access a shelved file later, type Shelf in Quicksilver and then press the forward slash (/) to get a list of shelved items.--Gina Trapani

Reprinted with permission from Macworld.com. Story copyright 2012 Mac Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.
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