Too many files, links, e-mails, directories etc... HELP!

When I re-installed my system after a mobo upgrade I thought I’d be in good shape for a clean start. But as I find new tweaks, links, and stuff I find important - I discover I’ve about lost all capacity for organizing all this crap. Just in my bookmarks I have 42 main folders, and another 117 sub-folders. Total links is over a thousand.

Since I can’t find anting in my den of crap that’s my favorites list - I started doing the same thing via word in My Documents. Which has also ballooned.

So, I’m sure most of you have the same issues with trying to organize so much information. How do you do it? Just for an example? I have the following bookmark folders scattered through my huge list (each directory/folder is crammed full too):

~ Important
~ Super Important
Super Important

My folder directories have become the same way:

\Best Tweaks
\Win XP Tweaks
\Latest Tweaks
\Game Tweaks
\Tweak programs

My e-mail is the same way and is over a Gig in size.

I’m scared to “start over” since it seems like the time I do that, I need something I can’t find. I just really need some help to get a handle on this.

I use a desktop search engine, in my case, google’s, although I’ve heard of good things from Microsoft’s and others.

That, and I use gmail for email. Smart labels are a great deal better at organizing than simple folders.

Smart labels?

I just make labels relevant for what I am looking for. If a particular subject has too many links in it, I further break it down.

Something abstract like “Important” vs “Very Important” isn’t very informative unless you just have a very few of those type and can guess the nature of what is in there.
firefox plugin:


You can tag bookmarks in the new Firefox, right? Or you could use Delicious. I used to use Delicious a lot, saving links to programs, articles, how-to pages, game sites, Bittorrent sites…

Eventually I gave up, as trying to remember what keywords you tagged them with can be harder than finding the page in Google with simple search terms. Once in awhile I’ll save some links, especially before I format, but other than that I’m OK just remembering them in my head or finding them with Google.

My Opera bookmark toolbar looks like this: Google (home), My Xbox, Gmail, Workopolis, Picture Folder (Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa), Staples (Bank, local weather, town business directory, Google maps), PC Stores (three local PC stores websites), Internet Tools (Speed Tests, Broadband Reports - Rogers forum, Speedguide apps page, port checker), Bittorrent (various BT sites, no more than ten), and Blogs/News (TorrentFreak, Crooks and Liars, Sneeze, Slate, NY Times, Toronto Star…).

Nothing else I really need quick access to.

I’ve been very happy with Copernic. Takes a while to index everything you’ve got, but once it’s ready to go to work, it’s amazing.

Gmail can automatically categorize items, given parameters like email address or subject. So if you have a series of people emailing you from work, you can automatically label them with Work without manually moving things around.

I just hate to leave the thing running in the background since I barely have to look really hard for things. Fogetting to index for even a week is just a pain in the ass.

I’ve been reluctant to commit myself to proprietary solutions, so I wind up carefully crafting directory structures. I just fear that any other solution I pick might wind up being discontinued, unsuitable in the long run, or clearly inferior to some new one, leaving me with a ton of metadata I can’t easily migrate.

Still, it’s often difficult to remember that that picture I took of my mother’s shortwave radio is actually in ~/media/pics/photos/mine/travel/2004/edmonton/xmas/… I sometimes think of setting up a tagging scheme of my own and scripts to search them, but…so lazy…

I organize downloads by what they are, and I don’t mix email items with other downloads if at all possible (unless, for example, it’s a program or something someone sent me.)

For email I sort by the relative subject, then the type of file, so I’d have something like:
\Singapore Data Center\XLS\Cost comparison.xls

For downloaded stuff, I use folders relative to what it’s for like:

So for example, a movie might be placed in:
\Video\DVD\Star Wars (1977)\

A patch to Nero might be in:
\Apps\Nero\Nero6 Patch\

If I have a lot of one Item I break it down further:
\Apps\DVD Burning Software\Nero\Nero6 Patch\

I too use Google Desktop search. It’s a great time saver. But nothing beats knowing your own filing system. A test would be if someone came over and needed to get a specific item off your machine, could you tell them where to look?

My downloads are generally patches, drivers, sourcecode, mods and the
occasional Linux ISO. Plus a few TV shows, of course. A folder for each
category, a folder for each game or show, and drivers arranged by type of
device. Organising weblinks? I gave up. I have nearly as many categories
as I have links, plus I really only visit a few regular webpages and live off
RSS for the rest. RSS is the new bookmark :)

E-mail is another issue. Lotsa folders+search is really the only way to handle
it for now, and I can do it equally well locally as with GMail. Maybe a client
that sorts email under a picture of the person or a company logo would work
better for me…

It’s easier to categorize stuff with labels or tags than to use folders. For example, you can tag this website with the keywords “games”, “forums”, and “computer”, and then tag (say) boardgamegeek with “games” and “forums”. If you search your bookmarks for “games” or “forums”, both websites turn up, whereas searching for “computer” + “forums” might turn up QT3 and (say) anandtech. Since you can always add more keywords later, you don’t have to stress out so much about how you initially label the bookmark.

There’s several ways to tag bookmarks using Firefox, especially with add-ons. Personally, I like using Google Bookmarks through the Google Toolbar since it integrates bookmarks with desktop/web searches, and it also will make a Google bookmark menu that resembles a traditional folder-based menu (but bookmarks will naturally appear in multiple folders). As a bonus, you can search your bookmarks from any computer. Other social bookmark sites like have similar addons.

Almost all of that crap is being stored on the Internet for your easy access and download. You don’t even begin to have time to browse that many sites. It is time to clean house. Delete it all and start over.