To organize files using labels combined with regular and smart folders


The answer to the question is not trivial. There are usually several different possible answers, no answer is wrong and the answer is often governed by the personal preferences of the person who names the folder. This is also where the core of the problem lies. If you ask a group of people to organize a set of things, files in this case, you probably get as many archive structures as there are people in the group. This is also why it can be difficult to find something in other people's structures as it differs so strongly from the one you would choose.

So the questions we can ask ourselves are:

  • Is there any way to sort a file from more than one perspective?
  • Can you arrange it so that you can find the files from more than one perspective?


What exactly is the difference between regular folders, labels (metadata) and smart folders?

We have learned to live with traditional or ordinary folders for decades from the birth of the personal computer in the 80's. These folders are given a name that helps us bring order to a growing chaos of files. In fact, this method of sorting has been in use for centuries. The oldest example in Canada is from the city of Quebec in 1790. This system still serves us well. Who does not love to go into a garage where you actually find something in a box based on the labeling being correct?

Attaching labels (metadata) to a document or an object of information means that management is based on what information is stored instead of where it is stored. The definition of metadata is data that describes data and means that labels/tags are associated with a specific object. This method of marking different objects became practically applicable with the computerization.

Smart folders allow the user to create a folder with different criteria linked to labels (metadata) and all files that match these criteria are dynamically listed in the smart folder. This can for example be used to surgically and dynamically highlight selected content from an archive structure to share with, for example, an external consultant.

It is the combination that makes the difference

Let us return to the question in the preamble, what should the folder be called where the protocol is to be stored? Let's say that the person responsible for saving the minutes, usually the secretary, chooses to save the minutes in a folder named based on the meeting date. Let's also say that the secretary chooses to "paste" some labels on the file. In addition to the date of the meeting, the name of the registrar is pasted there, the place of the meeting and the serial number of the meeting (many recurring meetings have a serial number). In addition to this, a label is also described that describes the type of document it is, protocol in this case. The procedure is then repeated for all attachments and other associated files for the current meeting.

When an employee who prefers to see reality from a different point of view emerges, he/she can get help from the smart folders. This person prefers to find things based on what they are and not when they were created. This then creates a smart folder with the name Protocol and then sets as a criterion for the folder that it should show all files that have the label Document type = Protocol. In this folder, all protocols will then be displayed, regardless of which date folder they are stored in.

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