Thursday, January 3, 2008

How to Organize Your Computer

  1. Make note of the most unorganized folders. Find the trouble spots so you know where to start. The most commonly abused areas in Windows are the Desktop and the main "My Documents" folder. Other common trouble spots are folders created by the computer users in the C:\ directory(see warnings below)
  2. Select and delete the files you do not need. The biggest problem with computer organization is the computer's enormous capacity for files that you don't need anymore. Reduce the clutter by deleting files that you are sure you do not need. See the tips for an easy way to remove multiple files.
  3. Pick a Spot to store everything There should be a main folder to keep everything organized. Use My Documents, because all the Microsoft programs want to save files there by default. A big appeal of the one folder for everything is that it makes backups even easier if every file you want is in one place. Don't forget to backup these files that you have deemed important.
  4. Create a few new categories. Make about four rough categories and make folders with those names in your chosen folder. Some good examples are: Work, Personal, Friends, Family. You can organize by date, by people involved, by motivation, by weather, by file type, by Geographic location, or anything really, just make sure it makes sense to you and anyone using the computer.
  5. Create subcategories. Subcategories should be clear. Try to keep the folders on the "flat" side. That means don't make so many sub-sub-sub-sub categories, or you won't be able to find anything. Avoid making folders that are too specific. Clever naming is the key.
  6. Start Sorting Sort the files you want to keep into your new, cleverly named folders. Sometimes it's easier to combine the sorting and subcategories step, but make sure you can still see the big picture.
  7. Organize your shortcuts Shortcuts are in three places in most Windows computers. They can be found on the desktop, in the start menu, and in the quick launch bar to the right of the start menu (if you have it enabled). You don't need them in all three do you? Keep your most common shortcuts in the quick launch bar (like internet, my documents, word, and excel). Keep the icons you want to drop things onto on the desktop Keep every program shortcut in the start menu. To move the shortcuts, just drag and drop your icons where you want them. See tips for more details.
  8. The most important step When you make new files, make sure you put them in your new spiffy folders, and make sure they are worthy to keep.
TIPS:
  • After you have done the steps above, you should run a disk defragment. Learn how and why here.
  • The easiest way to delete multiple files and folders is by holding down the button labeled 'Ctrl' and click the unwanted files, you can take your finger off the 'Ctrl' before you have finished your selection, as long as you hold it down again when you want to continue selecting. Then press the delete button and confirm the delete.
  • If you press Shift + Delete, then the files wont stop off in the recycle bin first. Also the recycle bin will not hold more than 3.9Gb in it. If it is full, later deletions will just be deleted forever.
  • If the quick launch bar isn't enabled, right-click the taskbar then choose toolbars and select quick launch.
  • You can also sort your start menu shortcuts by right clicking on "all programs" and selecting "Sort-by-name".
  • Find out which icons on the desktop you use the least by running the "desktop cleanup wizard" found by right clicking on an empty space on your desktop, then go to arrange icons by and choose desktop cleanup wizard.
  • If you are sure you do not want the items you've deleted, you can empty the recycle bin to delete them permanently and free up some space.
  • A lot of other things can be done to improve performance of a computer, this is only one step in the process. See the related Wiki's for more info.
WARNINGS:
  • 'Do not delete files you need!
  • Do not delete files that other people own.
  • Do not delete files out of the Program files folder, C:\WINDOWS folder or documents and settings folder.
  • Do not delete registry keys or important system files!
  • Folders named Temp or Temporary can be dangerous for organization. They usually end up being a "catch-all" for files that really should be organized or deleted. If you use a temp folder, make sure you take the time to sort through it at least once per week.

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