Documentation contents

Welcome to Better File Manager

If you struggle with finding, copying and moving files then BFM is what you need. It takes the guesswork out of clicking and dragging and puts you in charge of your filing system. Hooray!

What would you think if you lived in a house that was exactly the same as every other house, with a fire escape instead of stairs and a couple of closets for storage. Not much! Well that's how Windows is when it is delivered. There may be space but not any organisation. You can get around but not conveniently.

This introduction shows you two things: (1) How to organise your files, photos, correspondence and so on in an orderly fashion, and (2) Describes the tool to do it easily. Say goodbye to single/double left/right plain/shift/control mouse misery and hello to straightforward putting files in their right place. Say goodbye to files going missing or being collected in huge heaps with meaningless names.

So there are two bits. The second "Let's make it simpler" is the BFM program which we'll cover in detail shortly; but first we must get clear in our minds how this "organising files logically" works.

How to organise files

So you want an organised filing system. The first thing is to have some idea of a structure. In Windows the structure has to be a big space split into smaller spaces split into smaller spaces and so on. That's just like having a house split into rooms with chests of drawers split into drawers and possibly compartments to the drawers. So for example if you want the phone number of a friend you might go to the hall, open the desk, take your diary from the top shelf then go to the addresses section of your diary. In Window's format this would look like MyHouse\hall\desk\top-shelf\diary\addresses.

That's all very well but a computer isn't a house. You have to build the bits as containers within containers within containers yourself. This doesn't have to be difficult and just as with a house you can make alterations and additions.

One more thing before we get started: In our lives and on our computers we all have stuff that is just sitting in a pile on a bedside table or on our desks that isn't neatly filed away. So long as those heaps don't get out of hand they are convenient places to leave notes, things we might follow up later and junk we haven't quite got to throwing away yet. The first thing I do when setting-up somebody's computer for them is to create a temporary directory and institute the following rule If you don't want to file it properly then put it in \temp.

Shelves and Store

In the BFM scheme of things we'll use \SHELVES instead of \temp and our organised filing system will be called \STORE. While you're writing a letter it might go in \SHELVES and then if you want to keep a copy it might go into \STORE\correspondence\council. A quick thank-you note might live its whole short life in \SHELVES before being deleted.

Subdividing Store - tricky but important

How should you sub-divide the \STORE? Well, that's entirely up to you. You can always change it if experience shows there is a more convenient way.

Here is a tip: Generally you want to file things together by subject rather than by type. Let me explain. Generally in Windows as it is supplied the opposite method is used with photos in one place and letters in another and so on. But say you are making an insurance claim - wouldn't it be useful to have the correspondence, pictures of the damage and the spreadsheet listing your costs all kept together then if the phone rings you have the facts at your fingertips.

A lot of people have photographs of their holidays, but nowadays there is a lot of before-you-go stuff that can go on the computer, a screen print of the web page where you booked your flights, booking confirmation emails and so on. So before you go there are a bunch of things to go into \STORE\holidays\2009\Italy and your photos will go in there later.

If you haven't got any better ideas then how about the following

Then leisure might get sub-divided into say \leisure\holidays, \leisure\indoorHangGliding and \leisure\other.

Controlling clutter

Last but not least we need to discuss clutter. Within the \STORE there is an extra rule that makes it easier to distinguish a 'File of things' which is what most silver-surfers understand by "a file" - lever-arch file, box file, wallet file for example - and a single document which is what computery people mean by "a file". So we designate all the sub-sections of \STORE as containers which contain either sub-containers or documents but not both. This rule makes a lot of sense if you think how things get lost in real life by being 'almost filed'. Also the reason you've got a wardrobe and chest of drawers in your bedroom is so that you don't wade through heaps of clothes on the floor. BFM has a "Clutter Buster" which will tell you where this 'almost filing' has been going on and help you tidy things up.

Filing system summary

That's the full explanation of the logical filing system. The next topic shows you how to use BFM to get started for yourself with a system to suit your particular needs and interests. You could set this up using your existing 'my computer' and 'file manager' quite easily if you're fluent with those tools. Or do it the easy way with BFM.

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