March 14, 2023

How To Organize Your Desktop Files For Professional Purposes

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It’s easy to take it all for granted these days, but basic computer literacy skills are not always the most obvious, and not everyone is fully skilled in them. This is understandable, and even well-worn professionals will need refreshers on matters like cybersecurity practice from time to time. 

Moreover, sometimes a lack of familiarity with a certain system can be an obstacle. For instance, it’s recently been reported that Gen Z workers are having trouble understanding printer/scanner systems, and filing systems outside of the closed loops offered by many smartphones. This isn’t something to mock them for, as not all of this knowledge has been necessary until they hit the workforce. 

That said, it’s not just about being unaware, but also non-optimal in your daily practice that demands a second look. So, in this post, let’s look at how to better organize your desktop files for professional use:

Learn To Name Files Correctly 

The first step in organizing your desktop files is to give them clear and descriptive names that make it easy to find them later. Yes, this includes files too. It’s a good habit to get into, because if you misname one folder or set of files it might take up to an hour for you to figure all of this out again, and if you add up all of the seconds you spend searching for the right document, that adds up over time. You might also add some of these files to your quick access shortcuts depending on what operating system you use. 

Descriptive file names should include the name of the project or client, the date, and a brief description of the content too. Proper file naming conventions will help you avoid confusion and ensure that you can quickly locate the files you need, but make sure to keep it brief, and in cases of revisions, you can use numbers to showcase your workflow when you return to this index later on. 

Learn What Each File Type Is For & How It's Best Used 

Understanding the different file types and their intended use can help you organize your desktop files more efficiently, even if you think you’re familiar with them. For instance, text documents like Word or Google Docs are ideal for writing and editing, while image files like JPG or PNG are best for visual content. This much is easy. 

But do you know how to digitally sign a PDF, how to compress a PDF such as with this guide here,, and how to lock a PDF so only the intended recipient can open it? Moreover, learning how to make scans into PDF’s can help you keep your physical documents backed up. 

Familiarity with file types can help you avoid making mistakes, like having trouble opening an OpenOffice file when renaming the document would have made it compatible with Microsoft Word, saving you a confused email. 

Configure Your Settings 

Configuring your desktop settings can help you customize your desktop to suit your needs and preferences. For instance, you can customize your desktop icons, select the size of your thumbnails, and configure the sort order of your files in that way. 

On Windows desktops, you can also set your operating system to show hidden files, meaning that you can ensure everything on your system is visible to you. Disabling auto-updates can be useful if you’re about to give a presentation, while making sure your work laptop only plays sound when you have headphones in can be important, too. By adjusting your settings, you can make your desktop more efficient and user-friendly, without the simple annoyances that add up over time. 

Back-Up To Your Cloud Storage Folder 

Backing up your files to a cloud storage folder, like Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud, or Google Drive, can help you protect your work in case of a hardware failure or other data loss event, which you can bet is the most frustrating issue in the world, particularly in a professional context. 

Luckily, this is mostly quite simple, you just need to download the software and have it pointed at folders you wish to be backed up around the clock. This means if you save a change to a file within that folder, that too will be updated. You can also make sure that backing up your cloud storage on your work phone is enabled too, which has the same effect. 

Learn About Sharing Permissions 

If you work collaboratively with others, it's important to understand the sharing permissions of your desktop files, lest you’re asked for a particular file type but you aren’t able to provide it. Often, a shareable link can be provided, as well as access you wish to give straight from your cloud storage. In some cases, you can even send these links securely through apps like Microsoft Teams so you can enjoy immediate communication with those in the office. 

By learning how to set permissions for each file, you can control who can access and edit your work. Understanding sharing permissions can help you protect your work and ensure that it is only accessed by authorized users, too, and this might mean gradations such as those who work within your company, or assigning a particular email address to the file. 

Consider Your Use Of Hardware Backups 

While cloud storage is an excellent way to protect your files, it's worth considering how useful your hardware backup devices are. External hard drives or USB drives can provide an additional layer of protection for your work and ensure that you always have access to your files, even if you don't have an internet connection, or if you need them offline in a pinch. 

Some files might be limited from being downloaded on unapproved home computers, and so some people use USB’s to transfer files from their work computer to their home computer but make sure you follow the right cybersecurity measures if you do this. 

With this advice, you’re sure to organize your desktop files for professional purposes, in the best possible context.

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