Take the pain out of dealing with files and folders
Version 1.0, published December 15, 2020

Your Apple devices contain an overwhelming number of files and folders, and as these items accumulate, they create more work for you. Does your file management system involve throwing everything on the desktop and then pawing through it laboriously when you need to find something? Do you even have a system? There’s a better way. This book helps you organize, search, and clean up the files on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad, providing practical steps and realistic strategies to save time, reduce clutter, and decrease stress.

Apple users have fantastic tools at their disposal for using, creating, and editing files of all kinds, but few of us have any real strategy for naming, organizing, or tagging those files—making them increasingly difficult to find later on. In this book, veteran technology author Jeff Carlson helps you make sense of what could be millions of files on your Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch so that you can spend less time hunting for things and more time doing useful work (or having fun).

Jeff starts by helping you set appropriate file management goals and develop overall strategies that fit your needs and preferences. Then he gets into the details of how to use the Finder (on a Mac), the Files app (in iOS and iPadOS), and third-party tools to make sense of your files and folders and easily find what you're looking for.

This book covers topics such as:

  • How to keep important items in sync among your devices
  • Choosing when to use internal storage vs. external storage (such as an external hard drive, a NAS, or the cloud)
  • Whether and how to use iCloud Drive to sync your files, including Desktop and Documents folders
  • How to create shortcuts to your favorite files and folders
  • Understanding how the macOS folder hierarchy works
  • The best ways to use the desktop
  • What you should consider when creating a folder hierarchy
  • Why and how to use tags to categorize files
  • How you can automatically sort, rename, and file items on your Mac
  • When to consider third-party information management apps (such as DEVONthink)
  • How to find files and folders with Spotlight in macOS, iOS, and iPadOS
  • Alternative search tools you might want to consider
  • How to work your way through a long backlog of unsorted (or poorly sorted) files
  • Ways to free up storage space

If you're struggling with file management, this book will help you get a grip on the process—and get your devices to do more of the hard work for you.

Note: This book focuses on macOS 11 Big Sur and iOS 14/iPadOS 14, but nearly everything it describes is also applicable to older Apple operating systems released over the past few years.

Table of Contents

  1. Read Me First
    1. Updates and More
    2. Basics
  2. Introduction
  3. Quick Start to Managing Your Files
  4. Set File Management Goals
    1. Answer Key Questions
    2. Set Goals
  5. Develop Strategies that Work for You
    1. Consider File Management Strategies
    2. Sync Multiple Devices and Computers
    3. Choose Between External and Internal Storage
    4. Back Up Your Files
  6. Organize Your Files
    1. Create Priority Shortcuts
    2. Understand the Layout
    3. Understand the Desktop
    4. Organize Using Files and Folders
    5. Organize Using Tags
    6. Automate File Organization
    7. Use Information Management Apps
  7. Find Your Files
    1. Find Files in macOS
    2. Find Files in iOS and iPadOS
  8. Clean Up Your Files
    1. Set a Cleaning Strategy
    2. Free Up Storage Space
  9. About This Book
    1. Ebook Extras
    2. About the Author
    3. About the Publisher
  10. Copyright and Fine Print