Application Folder Organization

Written and published January 9, 1999

Over the past few weeks, I've laid out a plan to create logical organization for your personal files; files you create for your own use by using any program. I've also offered a few tips for keeping your files organized by getting them into their proper folders as you create them. This week it is time to move on to fixing up the rest of the files on your hard drive.

Today we'll focus on the application (program) folders. My bet is you have a few apps stashed in a folder called Applications because the system created that folder and installed them there. Then, if you've installed your own programs you've got them floating around elsewhere inside the hard drive window. Am I right? Are you beginning to get the feeling I am now going to strongly suggest you move those homeless applications into the applications folder? If so, you'd be right, almost.

I am pretty much suggesting you move all of your programs into a folder called Applications. Here's where things can get tricky. See, not every program should be considered an application in this circumstance. For ease of daily use (launching) and organizational purposes, try to weed out your programs and classify them.

Folder Creation Guidelines The MacOS installer creates a folder called Utilities for you and starts it off with some contents such as Iomega Tools and Disk First Aid. If you don't already have that folder, create it. Move any other utilities you have into this folder. For example, if you have SpellCatcher, StuffIt, StuffIt Deluxe, Action Files, or Font Reserve, move the folders they installed into this Utilities folder. Other utilities include TechTool Pro, TechTool (shareware), MacLinkPlus, SCSIProbe, Data Rescue, etc. (There are too many to name here. Please don't take lack of mention to mean lack of endorsement.) I actually have two utility folders: Utilities and Utilities-Diagnostic. You might do the same, or consider one folder enough.

I also create a Games folder and start it by moving the Puzzle into it from the Apple menu. (In later weeks I'll talk more about streamlining the Apple menu.)

Another folder I recommend is Communications or Net for internet software such as Netscape, IE, Anarchie Pro, Emailer, and Outlook Express. I also keep my fun net-related stuff there, such as Email Effects. Lastly, my modem/fax software goes there.

Instead of keeping all applications together, my friends Carolyn and Jeff, who are in the Advertising business, place their many graphics programs in a separate folder.

The point is to organize your programs so you can find them. Next week these folders will translate into an easy application launching system. Don't go overboard separating programs, though. I've actually seen MIS people separate every sort of program, such as Spreadsheets and Word Processing. That doesn't make any sense to me. It just makes it harder to find the apps to launch them.

Oh! Before you move anything; There are a couple of things to be clear on. First, the Applications folder as well as the other software-containing folders should be directly in the window you see upon opening the hard drive. Next, be sure to move the entire folder that contains the program, not just the application piece. (You don't want to split up items necessary to make the program run.).

What About Access? By now you should be wondering why I am asking you to bury your programs; making it harder for you to get to them. Now, you'll have to double-click the hard drive to open it, then open yet another folder ó the Application folder, to finally open the actual application's folder and launch the program. Sure, I'm suggesting a great way to make your main window so clean you'll be able to see your project folders incredibly easily. But I've added steps, not made launch-life easier.

I promise there is a method to this madness. Over the next weeks I will introduce not one but three solutions for you to try and perhaps adopt. But I'm afraid until next week you'll have to put up with the inconvenience.

Meanwhile; Your mission for the week, should you decide to take it, is to try these new folders. You should find that each time you need a program you know exactly where to find it. If you don't, rename or reorganize. The Apps, Utilities, Games, etc folders are going to become launcher categories of sorts.

After the organization is comfortable it will make the most sense for you to move on to next week's doings. (Either I really mean that or I'm just leaving you in limbo to build excitement or keep my column going longer. )

If you are interested in any of the utility programs I mentioned in this, or any other, article, use the Software Updates button (or Software link) from MacCentral to visit VersionTracker. At VersionTracker you can search for just about any software, learn the latest version available, and follow a link directly to that software.

Previous Column • • •
Button that takes you to the index.
• • • Next Column