It does not matter if you use or prefer a Mac, a PC or any other operating system. You must be able to quickly locate the material that you have saved on your computer. I have been both a teacher and spent half a lifetime in the technology field. In fact, for some time I was a network administrator and technician for a large school district, taking care of the tech for teachers. I understand how most of them work. One of their worst habits, we used to our advantage. It was their horrible file organization.
We had several thousand PC computers sitting on teacher’s desks, with a staff of less than 10 to maintain them all. We found that with only a handful of exceptions, every file important to individual teachers was dumped all willy-nilly into that black hole of a folder called “My Documents.” We played a bit of a trick on them to protect them. Each teacher of course had a network/computer login. We used that to change the physical location of their personal “My Documents” folder. It really wasn’t on their hard drive at all. It was in a secure building across town! (We didn’t even tell them.) We would often get a panicked call about a crashed computer and arrive to see a teacher literally in tears, thinking they had lost everything they had saved for years, including precious photos, student papers, grades, and essential paperwork. I would sit a new computer on their desk, plug it in, turn it on and say, “Now log in.” then “Now look in your “My Documents folder. You did not lose a single file.” The range of looks of utter shock, disbelief, relief and even confusion were amusing. “How did you do that?” they would always ask, as if I performed a magic trick, which was usually followed by profuse thanks and even hugs and kisses. Those teachers were lucky, because of their particular environment. But it perfectly illustrates a lack of skill number 1, file organization.
Think of your computer’s hard drive being like an old fashion file cabinet, with drawers, those dividers, cardboard hanging folders, sometimes with other folders inside of them, and pieces of paper (files) within the folders. That analogy is EXACTLY how a computer is organized and how your data should be treated. If you had a real file cabinet, the drawers, dividers and folders would have different titles, depending upon what type of business you did or your work style. Imagine a business, such as a doctor’s office, with everything paper, from patient records to billing. Someone says, “File this please.” They open a door to a large room and throw the paper in the air and it lands in a big pile. That is what one does by putting everything in that one “My Documents” folder, all out in the open.
It is ok to put things there, but if you do, make that the outer container, like the file cabinet itself. How you divide the rest up, and organize it is completely up to you. (To make a new folder in Windows, just right click and click “new”, then choose “folder” and give it a name.) You could have folders based on dates, folders for lectures or teaching materials, students’ work, personal folders, you name it! Try to come up with a system that is standardized to you, which you use on all your computers in your life. Be sure to make your backup hard drives or flash/thumb drives use the same system. The prices of external hard drives are quite good at Office Depot. Have a system of how you name files and life will become even easier. For example, if someone asked to see a paper, that a student named Jimmy Smith wrote 10 years ago, about frogs. You could find it in 5 seconds or less. When you can do something like that, you have mastered tech skill #1.