Monday, December 15, 2008

IT wish

I often find myself re-naming files, making them more meaningful to me to aid in retrieval later. Sometimes, this causes problems, especially when trying to coordinate work with others or because the file has effectively been given different names.

I'd like to be able to add a variety of meta-data to files, such as project name(s), participant names, importance level, and topic tags.

I've got a couple hacks to get at this functionality. Often I'll create shortcuts to files that live in various folders, effectively enabling the file to be invoked in varying project-based contexts.

Solutions, thoughts, additional hacks? Please comment...


Michael said...

I believe it depends largely on what type of files you are talking about (Images, Word Docs, PDFS, etc.) and what Operating System / File Structure you are on. You can look into "Alternate Data Streams" if you are on a Windows Machine running NTSF file system. If you're on a Mac Automator probably has some functionality of benefit.

Shaun said...

Thanks for the suggestion Michael. Drat, not as elegant as I'd hoped, and possibly a security threat. The best suggestion from my TwitterFriends? @spinuzzi sez "put it all in GDocs, tag it, use search :)"

topspun said...

Is this request more complicated than adding keywords to the file properties dialogue? I add keyword tags to the properties in both odf and word 2007 files, and they come up pretty quickly in system searches.

parezcoydigo said...

Hi Shaun-- if you're using Mac there are two simple ways to do this. One is to use Spotlight, which is an indexed search of your hard drive. There's also this nifty program called Default Folder acts as a Save Dialogue add-on and allows you to add tags to any, ever file.

For WinTel, I'm wondering if some other form of indexing would be helpful. I found the desktop search function in Windows to be very weak compared to Spotlight. But, doesn't Google offer some kind of desktop search for download, that indexes your files and offers full text search?

Alternatively, you could use a qualitative database program like Evernote to manage/store everything. These programs offer excellent search and tagging functionality. On Mac I use DevonThink.

One final note-- if using a comment field for metadata (instead of a dedicated tag field) I find it very helpful to add a symbol to my tags -ie, @text- so that when searching later, the tags are easily differentiated from simple text.

Shaun said...

@topspun: Ah, right! The properties dialogue! Glad to hear they work with system searches; wonder if they work with Google Desktop (I'd imagine so).

@Chad aka parezcoydigo: I'm pretty much PC. I'll have to look into Evernote et al. And great tip on the metadata symbol strategy! I *knew* it'd have to be a combo of technology and technique!