A Beginner’s Guide To Organizing With Folders On Your Mac

You can use folders to organize your files inside the Documents folder on your Mac. It is easy to create new folders. You can put folders inside of folders and use as many as you need to group your files however you want them. You can also easily move, rename and delete folders.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: A Beginner’s Guide To Organizing With Folders On Your Mac.

If you're new to Mac you may not yet have a good system for organizing your files. Folders are the main tool that you have for organizing things on your Mac so you're going to want to create folders. As many as you need to get things organized and know where things are. Now typically you store all your documents in the Documents folder on your Mac. This could be either the iCloud Documents folder or your local hard drive Documents folder. They appear to be the same thing. So you want to use that as the main place where you store stuff. But you don't want to just throw a ton of stuff in your Documents folder. You want to create folders that you can use to organize things. For instance, say if you have a bunch of files that you use for work. You may want to create a new folder that just has work files in it.

So you can create a new folder in one of many ways. The simplest to remember is to go to File, then New Folder. See the keyboard shortcut there is Shift Command N. This create a new folder here and you can see it's called untitled folder by default. The name is automatically selected so this is a good time to actually rename that folder because you can just start typing. So I'll call it Work. I may also have some personal stuff that I want to store on my Mac. So let's go and create a new folder and we'll call it Personal. I can put files in here based on whether it's something that has to do with work or personal stuff.

So for instance, I can go into my Personal folder, I'll go in here and it's empty, and I can put some files in there. But maybe I'm going to have a lot of files in my Personal folder. So I'll want to actually have folders inside my Personal folder as well. I'll create a new one and I'll call this Home Expenses and I'll store receipts and information about things having to do with my house. I'll create a new folder called Hobbies and I'll store things in there for hobbies. Now I may want to have folders inside the Hobbies folder as well for different hobbies that I have. You can continue to create as many folders as you like.

In different views, like say in Column View, you can see more obviously what I've got. I've got my main documents folder and I've got Personal, I've got Work, and I've got a few other things like an Interesting Articles folder, Projects folder, that kind of thing. Under Personal I've got Hobbies and Home Expenses. I can easily move files between these if I want by dragging and dropping. I can open up, say, multiple windows to do that. So I've got here's my Hobbies folder and I'll do Command N or File, New Finder Window and I can go into my Work folder and I can drag and drop items between these. It's pretty easy to do that.

You can also in the Column View easily drag and drop things. So, for instance, in my Projects folder I have a file here. I can drag it into Work. From Work I can drag into Personal. I can wait a second and now it reveals the folders inside there and I can drop into Hobbies. So it's easy to move files around. But you're definitely going to want to create a set of folders and subfolders and continue to work on them. Modify them. Break them out. Because as I said maybe you might have a Hobbies folder and you put all your files in there having to do with your hobbies. But eventually, maybe, it gets too big and you can't find things so maybe you create subfolders one for each hobby and then you drag and drop the files in there to create a better organizational structure.

A typical Mac user is always creating new folders, always moving files around in different folders, and getting things organized just the way that you want them. It's a personal preference as to how you set it up. People may have one folder with a ton of files and other people may have dozens or even hundreds of folders each with just a few files in them.

You can easily rename folders just by clicking on them, select them, and hitting return and then typing a new name. You can, in Icon View, arrange the folders like you want as long as you don't have any special arrangement settings. I have Arranged set to None so I can organize them like that. You can drag folders inside to other folders and you can also pull them out the same way usually having two different Finder windows open to drag them. Or you can do it in Column View. For instance in Column View I can go into Projects and I can drag Project A into the Personal folder there. So you have a lot of organizational ability through drag and dropping and renaming.

Deleting a folder is as simple as just selecting it and then using Command and Delete to move it to the Trash or just dragging it to the Trash there. But, keep in mind when you delete a folder it deletes all of the files and folders inside it. So you want to be careful when doing that.

Comments: 3 Responses to “A Beginner’s Guide To Organizing With Folders On Your Mac”

    Jan Franklin
    1 year ago

    This absolutely GREAT! for a files & folders class…thank you! …again!

    Michael Alexander
    12 months ago

    All of my folders and documents are stored my iCloud Documents folder. I want to move everything to my local hard drive folder and then delete my iCloud Documents folder to save space in my iCloud account. How can I do this?

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