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How to Automatically Organize and Catalogue Files

Automatically Organize and Catalogue Files
Working on our PCs day in, day out, we usually accumulate quite a number of files which are stored in different folders through various disk partitions. After a while, locating and managing our files can prove to be difficult, or at least challenging.
This article will review a few solutions that make the tasks of automatically identifying, organizing and cataloguing files, documents, photos, videos or music files stored all over your disk, a no brainer. On top of that, these software programs which help manage our media files can also be used as a media player for creating smart playlists and for downloading and updating relevant information from the Net.
Content Folders
Windows 7 sports a feature which is elegantly called 'Libraries'. These are virtual libraries which refer to the 'real' libraries. In other words, you can access numerous files spread throughout various folders from a single virtual folder without changing locations of any files. For example: you can create a library called 'Music' that will display all of your audio files which are kept in different folders all over your PC without having to copy them into a specific folder and risking the creation of duplicate files. You can even use the Library feature directly from your media player, create playlists, edit tags and download relevant information and CDs covers off the Net.
You can utilize the Libraries feature through Windows Explorer or by typing in 'Libraries' into the search bar. By default, there exist four libraries, but naturally more can be created by right-clicking -> Library -> New. After having created as many Library folders as needed we can proceed to easily add files to different libraries by right-clicking the desired target folder and choosing the 'Include in Library' option. Doing so, we can make searching, managing and accessing files which are scattered across the PC or the Net much easier.
Managing Tags
Before we get started, it's worth mentioning that most software programs that enable automatic files scanning and cataloguing use the information which is kept in the tags attached to files (documents, video, audio, photos, etc.). Tags can be used as an effective solution for locating and managing files and for attaching several tags to a single file thus making sure it will appear in several relevant places throughout the folder tree. Tag 2 Find is one of the software programs that enable users to automatically identify and manage tags for files of different formats.
Managing and Organizing Documents
Organizations and businesses usually put some solution to use for managing and controlling their documents. However, this changes when the focus shifts to the home user. Windows 7's Libraries can be used to organize and manage documents or a third party's software program can be used. DocShield enables users to manage, organize and backup documents. Benubird PDF is designed to offer a solution for documents of different formats (PDF, DOC, OpenOffice) central management and filing. Documents can be searched, filtered and put together in a virtual library regardless of their physical whereabouts. Tags and additional information can be added to files.
Organizing Music Files
Users who store great amounts of music files on their PCs may probably be in need of a software program that will enable them to import all music files spread throughout their computer, locate duplicates, repair damaged files and manage and organize their music by genres and albums.
Songbird is an open source software program best known as the alternative to iTunes. Like iTunes, it supports an enormous variety of features and formats, it allows access to virtual music stores, it enables to import music files from an iPod device or from a USB and manage them, to automatically download CDs covers and even to automatically identify audio files from a website, listen to them and download them into a local folder. It also sports a portable version, the interface language can be modified and expansions can be added as per need.
During its initial launch users are asked whether they're interested in automatically importing all music files. If their answer is a positive one, users will be asked to point out the software program to a folder containing all of the music files. Additional folders can later be added choosing the 'File' menu and selecting the 'Import Media' option. Tracks display can be modified (track 1,2,3, original song name + album, etc.), through the 'Options' -> 'Manage Media' menu. Should users want to catalogue a single album under several genres, they can create smart playlists and add filters. The software program will continue to keep an eye out for new music files added to the specified folders. In addition, duplicates can be identified and a tag editor can be used to modify the track's genre by right-clicking it and choosing the 'Edit Data' option.
Although Songbird is a great software program some users simply cannot relate to its interface. If this is the case, you can simply use other software programs of its kind that hold their ground with dignity. Such software programs may include Random MixTape, Media JukeBox and others.
Organizing and Cataloguing Movies
Similar to software programs designed to organize audio files, users can use software programs that allow for importing video files which are located on the local disk, including downloading additional information and covers from websites such as IMDB.
Managing, Organizing and Cataloguing Photos
Picasa 3.5
Picasa is one of Google's services which enables users to upload and stores one Gigabyte of photos. In addition, users can use the desktop version in order to automatically identify, organize, manage and edit photos kept on the local PC, with, or without connection to the web service.
Additional features: photos from your digital camera can be imported, photos can be catalogued and located based on automatic face recognition, photos can be organized based on the geographical location in which they were taken, tags can be edited, duplicates removed, automatic compression carried out and having photos searched and backed up. If an account had been opened, pictures can be uploaded onto it and albums can be created.
Folders' Contents Indices
There are situations in which we'd like to send a friend a list of all music files or movies in our possession. Naturally, you can capture screenshots of the folder and subfolders containing all relevant files and send them by email. However, this method does not make it possible to search within the list of files nor does it allow to copy files' names. This can be solved by creating a file that will contain a thorough list of all files and folders.
In order to do so, one should open a DOS window, access the folder of interest and type in the command: dir > filename.txt. This command will generate a text file that will contain all files in said folder. Alternatively, one could type in the folder's address (d:/itbanans/music) into the address bar within the browser and then proceed to copy the list.
Users who prefer to use a software program will probably find one of the following to be helpful: Print Directory, FileList and Directory List. One of the advantages in using such tools is the ability to create a cover for an MP3 CD with tracks' names printed on its back.

Written by Moshe Harel
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/itbananas

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