5 ways to name your files so you can find them later
Finding files on your computer can be time-consuming and frustrating. That’s especially true if you were lazy while naming your files.
It’s understandable — we’re all busy and don’t want have time to come up with elaborate naming conventions. But here’s the catch: Spending those 30 seconds to name your files properly can save you a lot of time and pain in the long-term.
“Okay, I’m convinced!” you say, “But what should I call my files then?”
To help you out, we gathered five best-practices for file-naming conventions. Let’s do this!
1. Think about which information will help later
Think about what data you need in your file names. Often, things like dates, editor names, project names, and versions are interesting. Since computers usually sort files alphabetically, you should put the most important information first.
For dates date we strongly recommend you use a year-month-day format so your files appear in chronological order. If you use day-month-year, then all your files from the first of the month will appear together regardless of the month or year.
2. Use meaningful abbreviations
Often, projects have an internal name and are abbreviated in internal emails and messages. Use this to shorten the file names, but only if it’s clear to everyone that access those files.
For example, Project Zero could be abbreviated with PZ. Also, use abbreviations for team or project members to shorten your file names (i.e. JD instead of John Doe).
3. Avoid spaces and special characters
Special characters might make sense for yourself, but if you’re working in a team we recommend keeping things simple.
We also recommend avoiding Spaces because they are not recognized when searching in Windows. Alternatives are dashes (file-name), underscores (file_name), or capitalizing without separation (FileName).
4. Version your files
Network drives can get messy quite quickly. If you and your teammates are working on a project together, chances are that there are several iterations of a document or presentation.
It makes sense to create versions of your files when you edit them and also mention who edited them (e.g. 20201021_PZ_Proposal_JD_v2). If you’re lucky you already use an online collaboration system like Office 365. But it still makes sense to save a version now and again, just in case you need to go back to an earlier version later.
5. Write your conventions down
Keep everyone on the same page and document your naming conventions in a PPT slide or put a readme.txt file on your network drive. If you have a company wiki, then put it there too. Let new employees know about the naming convention so they can work accordingly!
Meet Curiosity, the most powerful file search
If you’re still struggling to find your files or don’t have time to rename things, Curiosity can help. It helps you to find files across all your local folders and cloud apps, while keeping everything safe on your computer.
The best thing about Curiosity is that doesn’t stop at file names but searches deep inside files’ contents so you don’t need to know the file names any more!