If you aren’t the tidy and organized type, then chances are you have misplaced things and had trouble finding their hiding spot. When dealing with physical objects, it’s often very challenging to locate something (“How did my keys end up in the freezer???”) if you can’t see it. Fortunately, with computers, searching for files is easier in most cases because each Operating System has a search feature built in.

In Windows, using the File Explorer, you can select directories to search in and either specify part or all of a file name, or some text inside of the file. The search capability isn’t perfect though because many files are not pure text and sometimes you have to be very careful with what you are searching for or you will rule out the files you want (i.e. capitalization, underscores, etc).

Rather than relying strictly on the search feature to help find the files you have saved randomly throughout your hard drive, it is best to organize your files in a logical tree of directories that will easily allow you to dive down and find a file based on its content. Windows provides all users with a “My Documents” directory by default where you can store all of your documents and such. This should be the key place where you keep all of your personal files because it is exclusive to your user account and has an easy shortcut icon in most file browser windows.

It would be silly to keep all of your files in the My Documents directory without some additional directories to keep things organized, though. Usually there are folders called “My Pictures,” “My Music,” and “My Videos” created for you initially, but you should create additional directories to help keep all of your content in order. When you create a new file, store it immediately in its respective sub-directory within My Documents so you will know where to look for it in the future. If a file falls into more than one category and could be located in more than one sub-directory, go ahead and store it in one directory and just make a shortcut file in each other applicable directory so that if you make edits, there will only be one copy of the original file that is getting changed (this keeps files consistent).