MacMost Now 209: Using Burn Folders

You can use burn folders to archive data and create CD hand-outs. But you can also keep burn folders around and use them to make updated versions of those disks later on.

Video Transcript
Gary Rosenzweig: Hi! This is Gary with MacMost Now. In today's episode, let's take a look at how to use burn folders to back up and archive some of your data.
A lot of people dismiss burn folders as a quick way simply to just get a bunch of data onto a CD or DVD. You just drag a bunch of files there, burn the DVD, and throw away the burn folder. Burn folders can be so much more. See, the key is that burn folders don't contain the files your burning onto the optical media. They contain links to those files: aliases to them. So as you update those files, the burn folder is updated as well.
So here's my documents folder. Now I'm going to go ahead and create a new burn folder by selecting file, new burn folder. And there it is right there. Now when I select the burn folder, I can see that I get a new bar at the top that has the name of the burn folder and burn. That's how I create a CD or DVD from it.
Now when I drag things into the burn folder, like for instance I drag this folder called archive, notice that I get a link to it here. So it's archive, and you can see it's indicated that it's an alias to that file. What will happen now if I burned that folder, I would end up with everything in that archive folder. But if I burn it tomorrow, I'll end up with updated data. Anything new that was put in that archive folder will instantly be in that burn folder as well.
For instance, if there are important data that you're updating all the time, like say some spreadsheets, some pages documents, and things like that, then you can create a burn folder that has links to all those files or the folders containing those files. Then you can quickly go to the burn folder, burn a CD, and then go back a few days later and burn the CD again. You'll have the updated versions of those files on the CD. So it's a really quick, easy way to create an ongoing archive of very important files.
Now you can even get more clever than this. You can combine smart folders and burn folders. For instance, go ahead into the finder here and create a new smart folder. Go ahead and define that smart folder by something like saying everything in my user folder that has dot txt because I want to save all my text files every time I create a copy of this burn folder.
Then I hit save, and I'm going to go ahead and move it to that burn folder right there. Now when I go ahead and look at the burn folder, I can see there's the archive. There's also my new smart search right there. Anything in it is also in the burn folder. So now when I burn that burn folder, I'll get every dot txt file in my user folder plus the archive folder as well.
Now you can use burn folders for more than just archiving. For instance, say you have a regular meeting at work. At that meeting you like to give out CD ROMs that contain updated spreadsheets and data and maybe your presentation. Every few months you give the same presentation at your meeting. You can go ahead and create a burn folder that has all the files you need in it.
Then just before every meeting you could update those files, and then burn the burn folder. You have an updated version of that CD to give out to everybody. Then later on after the meeting, if somebody says, 'Hey, I lost my CD' or 'Can I have another copy of it?' you can go back to your burn folder and create another copy of it right away.
Or say you have a burn folder that basically contains links to some of your favorite pictures. You can go ahead anytime you want to give somebody copies of all your favorite pictures. You quickly burn a CD from that burn folder. Then you can keep adding to it, and the next time you burn the CD, it will have the new photos on it as well.
You can keep a whole collection of different burn folders somewhere in your documents folder, and use them for different purposes. They're very handy. Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig at MacMost Now.

Comments: 14 Responses to “MacMost Now 209: Using Burn Folders”

    2/27/09 @ 11:32 am

    Thanks for the tip Gary!
    It so simple, yet I had no idea what a “Burn Folder” was.
    This will help me so much on the job. :-)

    3/1/09 @ 3:54 pm

    Does a burn folder actually burn the ALIASES or the ACTUAL FILES?

    3/1/09 @ 4:34 pm

    Matt: No. That wouldn’t be very useful. It burns the actual files.

    3/2/09 @ 5:38 am

    Awesome tip!! I was wondering one day what that “New Burn Folder” was. That is a really really really useful tip!! Thanks!!

    3/2/09 @ 5:41 am

    Hey Gary.. You should have an Email this article option on here. I always send links to my friends about your articles..

      3/2/09 @ 4:35 pm

      That’s a cool idea! I do the same thing.

    Eva Ralston
    8/10/11 @ 9:14 pm

    Is it possible to e-mail a burn folder?

      8/11/11 @ 7:29 am

      No. A burn folder isn’t really a folder. The files aren’t really there. It is just a list of things that you want to burn to a disc.
      What is it you are trying to accomplish? Just send some files? If so, then just attach them to an email. If it is a folder with a lot of files, then compress the folder into a zip file and send it. See episode 516:

    11/20/11 @ 1:01 am

    So , i downloaded a music comp , got it on my desktop….put it into a new burn folder…..burned it …..however only plays on my DVD player….not in my laptop or a normal cd player …no joy ???

      11/20/11 @ 7:37 am

      It sounds like you burned a data disc with a music file on it. I’m surprised that anything played it. If you want to burn an actual audio CD, you should use iTunes. Build a playlist and burn it as an audio CD from iTunes.
      See episode 109, but instead of making an MP3 CD, make a plain audio one.

    11/20/11 @ 12:09 pm

    Thanks Gary, the disc i used was a memeorex cdr specifically for music . I know how to burn from itunes… how do i get the music that is currently sitting in my burn folder into itunes ?

      11/20/11 @ 2:17 pm

      Are then not already in iTunes? If not, then drag and drop them to add them to your music library.

        11/20/11 @ 7:29 pm

        Thanks Gary , didn’t realize i could just drag stuff into itunes …i am a bit of a technospazz …lol. Thanks very much for your help .

    Mike Stolz
    7/2/12 @ 4:37 pm

    I tried putting a smart folder into a burn folder and then burning it.
    What got burned was the actual search criteria for the smart folder.
    When I brought that to another machine and opened it, it listed all of the files on THAT machine that meet the search criteria.

    Cute, but not as useful as it would have been if it worked the way Gary said it did.

Comments Closed.