Don’t let your file names reflect your mood
Have you ever looked at a huge list of files, scrolling, scrolling, trying to find the file you saved the day before. You know where you saved it (you’re pretty sure) but you can’t seem to remember the name. Let the scrolling and head scratching commence.
We know the drill: myfile.docx myfile2.docx myfile3.docx myfinalfile.docx myfinalfile2.docx myfinalfinalfile.docx. TheSpreadsheet.xlsx, 2013budget.xlsx. All files need a name and we are tasked with naming hundreds of these babies every week. We seem to have no problem naming a document. The challenge is recalling the name later.
Why is it so difficult for us to use a standard naming system? We’re usually in a hurry, or simply ready to get on with our day as we move from task to task. A well-thought-out name is not a priority at that moment. Instead, most of use a mood-based naming convention where documents are named based on how we feel at that time.
You may be saying to yourself “my documents are named well enough”. Perhaps. We don’t deal with only our own documents, though. The sheer quantity of documents, people, personalities, and locations can create such a huge pile, that even the most organized of us can feel like we are drowning in a sea of business documents.
So what’s the answer? Wouldn’t it be nice if all of us established a common way of naming our files making them easier to locate? Well don’t count on that happening any time soon.
But… there is help in the form of META DATA.
Collaboration tools such as SharePoint allow the use of “meta data“, columns of information that describe our documents beyond the standard file name, making it far easier to find what we need when we need it. Meta data can be thought of as “tags” on our documents, labeling them appropriately for all to identify and locate more easily.
You may not be using collaborative software such as SharePoint, but feel the pain of inconsistent file names everyday, either by your on hand, or the poor naming deeds of others. If you use Microsoft Windows 7, Windows 8 or Macintosh OSX, you will be happy to know there are great ways to “Label” your documents beyond a standard file name.
In Windows 7 or 8, right click any document and select Properties then select the Details tab at the top of the window. Enter ‘Title’, ‘Subject’ and other meta data to help you find this document later.
On Macintosh OSX, right click (or control+left click) the document then select ‘Get Info’ or select the document and press Command+I. Use the ‘Tags’ box to type searchable key words and use the ‘Comments’ box to type any key words, terms or description that will help you find the document later.
To search for a document on a Windows computer, click the Start button and type what you’re looking for in the Search Box at the bottom of the Start Menu.
To search for a document on a Macintosh computer, click the Spotlight magnifying glass on the upper right corner of the screen and then type what you’re looking for in the box.
Using META DATA fields to describe documents is a smart way to use the power of your computer’s indexing features and will help you find your files quickly.