Why Files Get Lost So Easily On Your Mac

Do you own or use a Mac? Whether it’s for the home business, personal use, or something for the whole family, your Mac is likely to accrue quite the collection of files over the years. As these start to build up and up, it can quickly become easy for some files, especially older documents, music, and pictures, to get buried in the sheer volume that you have. If you’re having trouble finding the files you want on a regular basis, then it might be time to look at how you get everything back in the right place.

Why Files Get Lost So Easily On Your Mac:

Mac lying on a bed with notebook and globe

Store things in the relevant places

The first tip is to make sure that you’re not saving any files to your desktop when you can help it. First of all, you don’t want to clutter any gorgeous background photos that you might have. Furthermore, the desktop isn’t optimized for easily searching through it. Even just using your own eyes, it can be hard to pinpoint what you need from the desktop alone. Most filetypes, from music to documents to pictures, have their own place on the Mac, so save things where they should be and make sure you move any files lingering on the desktop to whichever folder they belong to. Even software shortcuts can be moved to your taskbar, instead.

Start naming your files in categories

Your files might be there on the Mac somewhere, but it might a lot more difficult to find them because you don’t really have any kind of naming scheme to make them easier to find. Naming your files with prefixes based on their category (such as “Work,” “Home,” “Self,” “Learn,” and so on) can make it a lot easier to quickly find the category that you’re likely to need. There are some tools that will even help you rename a bunch of files so you can add a prefix to multiple at once. Come up with a consistent standard for naming your files. If you need to write those categories on a post-it note so that they’re easier to remember after the fact, that’s okay.

Make Finder your friend

If you know the file name, then you can use Finder to quickly look through all the files on the Mac to source them a little easier. However, Finder can also be used to create Smart Folders. These are folders that will effectively automate the process of creating folders to store files that should share a category, meaning you don’t necessarily have to do it yourself. If you find your documents folder getting too big, for instance, you can use the “New Smart Folder” button in the Finder, and it will sort relevant ones together. So, you can search using the “Work” prefix and then quickly create a Smart Folder to tie them all together without hassle.

Delete those that you don’t need

One of the reasons that it can be hard to find the files that you want in a hurry is that you might simply have too many to look through at once. As such, finding ways to downsize your files can make it a lot easier to find the rest. One easy way to do that is to find duplicates. You can remove them with the help of tools that quickly find files that are copies of those that you already have. Another way to do it is to search your Mac folders, organizing them so that you’re seeing the oldest files first. You’re likely to be able to identify plenty that you might have used once upon a time, but don’t need to keep any more.

Be mindful of how synced you are to the Cloud

The iCloud is a very helpful piece of software that can help you back up any new files that you create on the computer. However, keeping it on and synced all the time can actually be a bit of a risk. You can upload important files to it manually, so you don’t have to lose your backups. However, keeping it synced can sometimes result in errors. If you have a file that is in a folder but not on the Cloud, the sync may sometimes cause files that are not on the Cloud to disappear. You simply need to disable the sync to have those files reappear, in most cases. If they don’t, then there’s probably another cause for their disappearance from your Mac.

Check to make sure that they aren’t hidden

There are some other ways that your files may appear missing even if, in reality, they are safe and sound somewhere on the device. For instance, you should set your preferences in Finder so that it’s not hiding anything by ticking “Documents” on the Sidebar, or you can press Command, Shift, and Dot at the same time to quickly make any hidden files visible. Similarly, the Terminal app on the Mac has the same function that you can disable with these instructions. If you have Stack enabled, it may automatically be storing away any files that have been left on the Desktop, so if things disappear on the Desktop, check it.

Go back in time

It may be the case that the files you’re looking for have been deleted or removed for one reason or another, be it by accident, or some error. If that’s the case, then you should be aware that your Mac does have the ability to turn back the clock to some degree. The function is literally called Time Machine and acts as a backup of your Macintosh HD. It can restore files as they were at a certain date. If there are any files you have made since then that you want to make sure that you keep, these shouldn’t get deleted during a restoration. However, you may want to back them up just to be safe.

A more organized approach to how you store your files, taking the time to delete files you don’t need anymore, and making sure that everything is made as easily findable as possible can help a lot on your Mac. Keep the above tips in mind.

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