How to Name Files

Get tips on naming files so that you'll be able to use your computer to easily find exactly what you need, when you need it.

Stever Robbins
Episode #134

Use The Same Conventions Throughout Your Computer

If you use these conventions everywhere, when you search for files across your entire computer, you can sort the list by filename and have all your similar files grouped together, even if they’re in different folders. You’ll be able to see all your lyrics together, whether they were from Evil Dead: The Musical or Mary Poppins.

Put it All Together

You can use all these techniques at once. I file taxes personally and for my business. My scanned-in tax forms get named TAXES 2008 PERSONAL State V1, TAXES 2008 PERSONAL Federal V1, TAKES 2008 BUSINESS State V1, and so on. When I sort them alphabetically, all taxes appear together. Within the taxes files, the same year gets sorted together. Within each year, my personal taxes are sorted together. If I ever have to revise or amend a tax return, I can bump the version number from V1 to V2.

The secret to good file names is alphabetizing so you can find the files you need. Use capitalized keywords at the start of your file names. Use leading zeros on your numbers, use version numbers when you anticipate making changes to files, and use a four-digit year, then month number, then day number when adding dates to file names.

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!

(Oh, and if you need help keeping track of different drafts of printed documents, I have a Quick Tip that can help you with that.)


File image from Shutterstock


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT. 

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