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In this series on productivity, author Jess Stratton takes you through the latest tools that will help you run your business and life more efficiently. Each installment covers a particular feature or technique in a different online tool, such as Google Apps, Skype, YouTube, Mint.com, Etsy, and more. Check back every Monday for tips on topics from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
Hi there, I'm Jess Stratton, and welcome to Monday Productivity Pointers. In an earlier edition of Monday Productivity, I showed you how you can use smart mailboxes in your Mac mail client to aggregate and view all your mail that meets certain criteria in one place. Well today we're going to extend that functionality to finder in Mac. So that you can aggregate all sorts of folders in one place called a Smart Folder. Now why would you want to do this? Well for one, you may have photos in various folders all over the place on your Mac.
You can aggregate them all into one smart folder. So whenever you want to look at all your folders, you only have to go to one place to see all your photos. You can do the same thing with music. That's actually what I do on my Mac at home. So let's get started, and I'll show you how to set up your own smart folders. The first thing we need to do is to decide what things we're going to create our smart folders for. I'm going to create two. The first one I want is just a way to identify all the active files and folders that I'm working on in whatever current projects I'm working on right now.
Now remember, they could be anywhere on my Mac, in a Google drive folder, in a documents folder, in a sub-folder, it doesn't matter. I'm going to use a combination of smart folders and labels to get these things identified. Now, you may have seen on a Mac, if you right click a file, you can color code it with a label. Well, the first thing we're going to do is change the text of these labels so that we can clearly identify what we're labeling. I'm going to select Finder at the top left hand side of the Mac and choose Preferences. Go to the Labels tab, and here's where I can change the names of these.
For example, the red label, I'm going to change that to be active. Now the second smart folder I'm going to make is all my photos. So I'll take this purple color and rename that to Photos. When I'm all done, I can close out of it and now I'm ready to start labeling my different items. So if I use my expense reports all the time, I'm going to right-click that file and label it as Active. You'll see that all the other ones are still labeled the same color name except Photos and Active, which we changed.
It gets flagged with the red color. And now I can go through and flag any photo or any active project that I'm working on. You can even do it with subfolders. For example, here's this logos plus story folder that I use all the time. So I'm going to flag that as an active folder. There's an Images file. Now you'll notice that this is kind of buried. But I'm going to flag this as being photos. So now that I flagged that folder and I flagged some active things, let's start creating our smart folders.
We do that by choosing File from the top Finder menu. And choosing New Smart Folder. The first thing we need to do is type in our search criteria for that smart folder. I can do that by choosing my labels that I created. Now there's other things that you can use smart folders for but right now we're just aggregating our active folders and our photos. So I'm going to start typing label is active. Now you'll notice that it immediately found all the files that I've labeled as active.
So now I'm going to chose the Save button. I could click this plus if I wanted to add more criteria to it. For example, there is all sorts of things I can create smart folders out of. When it was last opened? When it was last modified? I could create a new smart folder of all files that have been modified in the past two weeks. This would be a good one to create if you're constantly scrambling to find files on your computer. But right now I'm going to keep it as just active files. So I'll click the Save button.
And now I need to give it a name. I'll just call this one Active, because that's what it is. It's going to save this smart folder in my saved searches. And I want to add it to my side bar. I don't have to, but it's very useful, so I'm going to leave this checked. That's going to put it in this favorites over here, as soon as I click Save, here's my active view. So anytime I open up finder, and I'm working anywhere in my computer, if I want to quickly find all the active folders that I'm using, I can come down here, and here they are.
Lets do that one more time with my photos. I'm going to come back up to the Finder's Menu, Choose New Smart Folder. I can add any criteria that I want, but in this case I'm going to type Label. This time I'm going to type photos. So here's where it's aggregated all the photos that I've labeled on my computer. This is also useful if you have photos in mapped drives and things like that. And I'll click the Save button, I'll call it photos. I still want to add it to the side bar. I can click Save and here it is.
So now I've got two smart folders that are going to be very useful to me. So go through in your computer, see what kind of files you find yourself always going to and always spending lots of time clicking through various subfolders to get to. And make them a smart folder.
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