12 Replies Latest reply: Mar 31, 2009 7:08 PM by gblunt99
gblunt99 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Hi Everyone,
I've been using Macs for years, but I have a very basic question. What's the best way to organize your hard drive? I first got into Macs at my wife's suggestion and so followed her system which is essentially this: anytime you want to make a new folder to store documents, you just add a single space in front of the name. That way, your documents are always at the top of the Hard Drive's list. When you click on Macintosh HD, you always see your document folders first. It's very convenient most of the time.

But I find my Hard Drive is increasingly disorganized. I seem to have two Document folders, for example--one under Macintosh HD (which has a lot of stuff put there by various applications, and one under my Home file (which has nothing in it except a Palm folder). I have two Music files and two Pictures files (two of these I made myself with the space first, where I've been storing the odd photo i that I download, and random articles and lists regarding my hobby of guitar and singing.

Occasionally, I have to search for things in several places, and sometimes the computer doesn't seem to know where to find things. I'm tempted to put all my documents folders into the Documents folder under Macintosh HD but frankly, it's pretty messy. EG, Finale software stores all my musical notation files there--not in a subfolder, but just under Documents, and if I put them in a subfolder it won't open them.

So that's why I'm asking this very basic question. I'm going to try and insert screenshots here of my Macintosh HD and Home folders, and I'll be grateful for any tips you can give on an optimal storage method. Or if you think I should just leave well enough alone, I'll be quite glad to hear that too. Here they are (I think): HomeFolderScreenshot.jpg and MacintoshHDscreenshot.jpg.

PowerBook G4 Pismo 550 Mhz, 100 GB HDD/7200, 1 GB RAM, OS 10.4.11, Mac OS X (10.4.11), PowerBook G4 12" Superdrive w OS 10.4.10
  • gblunt99 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    OKay. First I need help in how to add a screenshot here, obviously.
  • cornelius Level 6 Level 6 (17,825 points)

    Home Folder
    Here is what my Home Folder looks like

    The image is pretty small so here is the list:
    Desktop Stuff

    So to access the data I need I bring up the Home Folder (Command + Shift + H) and from the sidebar I can get to where I want to go. Of course each person will arrange things differently.

    As you can see I don't have Documents folder here at all. I have Data, which is located in Documents, but I can access it directly from the sidebar. I also use Financial more often, so
    Financial FolderHere is what my Financial Folder looks like
    Again, here is the list:
    Form 1040 ES 9/15/08.pdf
    Checking Accounts
    Statements & Payments
    Credit Reports

    How to post a screen shot?
    First, use the free image hosting site and upload your screen shots. Upload them one at a time, copy the URL and post in your response.


    Message was edited by: cornelius
  • Jitanjafora Level 2 Level 2 (245 points)
    Hey gblunt99,

    So far, I don't see that you have a particularly messy computer --unless when you finally post screenshots you hear people screaming in terror. Your problem seems to be mostly finding stuff. And, of course, I'd have to say "Join the club."

    Thankfully, there are several tools and strategies one can use to quickly find what you need.

    1)Creating/managing folders and subfolders. You don't seem to be doing too bad in that department, but just in case: you can store documents in adequatelly named subfolders so you can find them more easily. And yes, your Mac creates a Documents folder and a Pictures folder and a Music folder and so on for each user, so you'll have to live with that. Just make sure which is which.

    2)Aliases. You can create aliases to some of your programs, files and folders and put them on the desktop. Or, if you would rather have an uncluttered desktop, you can drag them to the Dock to create an alias there. Of course, you'll end up with a cluttered Dock, but something's gotta give.

    3)Quicksilver. It's a free program, and a sort of universal jacknife, but in this case I'll only mention one feature: it serves as a launcher. if you have Quicksilver running, you don't have to explore the whole Applications folder to find a program you can't fit another alias for in your cluttered desktop/Dock. A couple of keystrokes, and the program is launched. Sweet.

    4) The simplest and most overlooked way to find anything: Spotlight. It just works. It can even identify text that's inside a document, not only the filename.

    I hope this helps somehow.


  • gblunt99 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks, guys. Very helpful and informative.

    Here's my Macintosh HD folder: http://www.imageno.com/xw9fmnwuqz2epic.html

    And here's my Home folder: http://www.imageno.com/v7291l5lk12bpic.html

    It's not too messy, I guess. But those duplicate Documents folders bug me. And I'm never quite sure where applications are going to toss files. Some seem to prefer the Home folder, others the MacHD.

    Related issue: I want to make this computer available to guests when we do a home exchange, but I don't want them to read my files. I thought that if you put them in Documents under your Home folder that they were not accessible to other users (I've made another User called Guest). But I just tried it and they open right up. Read Only, but still, no privacy. Am I missing something?


  • cornelius Level 6 Level 6 (17,825 points)

    Thanks for posting. Your images come out nice and big. I wonder what I did wrong? In any case, a few suggestions:
    • Anything that you don't want to share with others should be in your Home Folder. Indeed, you don't need to keep any data on the Macintosh HD.
    • You can create a folder in your Documents Folder called Data. Then withing the Data folder create folders such as Literature, Politics etc. Then drag Poems, Shakespeare etc. into Literature and so on. If this is you you probably need a folder for manuscripts etc.
    • Drag Data Folder or other folder to which you need quick access into sidebar of Finder window. (it will only be an alias. The real folder remains in place).
    • The Applications Folder belongs on the Macintosh HD as it should be accessible to all users of the computer.
    • The Macintosh HD should contain Applications, Library, System, Users, and Developer.
    • In terms of the Guest Account, your Guests should not have access to your Documents folder if there is no Documents Folder on Macintosh HD.
    • Your Home Folder should contain your Desktop, Documents Folder, Library, Movies, Music, Picture, Public, and Sites.

    OK, enough to confuse you for now. Please post back with questions or answers.

  • gblunt99 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks again.

    Here's my new Desktop. I love the way it looks. The dark stuff upper left is leaves of a tree--the wallpaper is from a beach photo my wife too. http://www.imageno.com/und30ozr9a49pic.html
    The icons on the left are based on David Allen's Getting Things Done system, though I mostly chose the icons myself. I'm still new to that system and I may abandon it if it makes things worse--ie scatters stuff I have to do into different areas. But for now it seems good.

    And here's my new Macintosh HD window. MUCH better. I've moved most of the stuff that was in Documents there into my Home-Documents folder. Just have one application left to check but I have to find my Key number to do it. Now my documents are not visible from the Guest User. http://www.imageno.com/nzosgd3wtr5rpic.html

    And here's my Home window. It's still a bit messy, but at least I know where everything is. http://www.imageno.com/8lk6adn28dhjpic.html I was very impressed with how organized your financial stuff is. I'll be doing some more organizing on an ongoing basis.


  • cornelius Level 6 Level 6 (17,825 points)

    Very nice work. I'm impressed. Of course, these things are always in process as we change things as we go along and as our needs change. Once you have the basic setup you begin to have new ideas of what would look or work better, and you keep tinkering as you go along. The main thing is that you have a master plan, or global vision, which is what you had lacked, until now.

    With my new MacBook Pro I am starting some of this stuff anew. Leopard has a different look and feel, so I am adjusting to that, too. Part of my new dilemma is how to divide my time between the two computers. Since the HDD on the MBP is more capacious I do things that need storage space here. I am also doing email on the MBP so that I have the latest stuff all in one place. I do quite a bit of scanning documents and saving them on the computer as I am particularly bad with managing paper. If I put it away, chances are that I will not find it until several years hence. I can scan them and store them in folders on the computer, and it is a lot easier to retrieve them.

    You are well on your way. Congratulations!

  • gblunt99 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks Cornelius,

    Good luck with the new MBP and Leopard. I'll have to check the Leopard forum to see how you go.

    I've been using two laptops for the past year or so. Only issues I run into revolve around finances and email. EG, if I answer email on one (using Entourage) of course it doesn't show on the other. And with finances, which I do on the 12" PB, they are never up to date on my Pismo. Minor things, really. iTunes used to be problematic but not anymore.

    Speaking of Entourage. Wouldn't stay open this morning and I got this message ERROR: Could not change to that identity. ERROR -50. Went to repair permissions and got this:

    *Repairing permissions for “MACINTOSH HD”*
    Determining correct file permissions.
    Permissions differ on ./private/var/log/secure.log, should be -rw------- , they are -rw-r-----
    Owner and group not corrected on ./private/var/log/secure.log, reason Invalid argument
    Permissions not corrected on ./private/var/log/secure.log, reason Invalid argument

    *Permissions repair complete*
    The privileges have been verified or repaired on the selected volume

    I just installed a new DVD burner/player so that's where that's coming from. Is this anything to worry about? I don't see why it should affect entourage. I posted about this in my DVD thread but nobody has ever responded there.

  • cornelius Level 6 Level 6 (17,825 points)

    I don't use Entourage but here is what I found:
    -50 paramErr Error in user parameter list

    I am not sure if that means that resetting the RPAM will help, but it will not hurt to give it a shot. As far as I can tell from the log you posted the current permissions are as read/write and read only, while is should be read/write. If resetting the PRAM and Repairing Disk Permissions doesn't work, you may need to go and change the permissions manually.

    I use Apple Mail and can access most of my webmail accounts on it, except for a couple of Yahoo accounts. I have too many mail accounts, but using them in Apple Mail has simplified things greatly. I have several accounts through my ISP including one account which is just from family: kids and their spouses and children, as well as brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces, one for Relatives and Friends, one for business, one for general uses, and my wife has a couple accounts which can be accessed from my log in account or hers. In terms of webmail I have a Hotmail account which is what I give out when I don't want to give any other, a Netscape account I use for purchasing online, a GMail account which is exclusively for FaceBook and AOL account which is where my Apple Discussions mail goes. In addition, The beauty of this is that I can see at a glance what mail I have and don't have to wade through piles of junk to get an email from family, for example. Makes it easier to retrieve or find emails at any time. Works great for me. It is also easier to backup Mail from the MBP to the Pismo or vice-versa.

  • gblunt99 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks Cornelius. I don't think the problem is with Entourage--it uses the same database as all the Office prgrams and Apple's daemon to search it. And I'm having problems with Word as well. I don't know how to reset the PRAM--you mean disconnect the PRAM battery and then reconnect?

    Well, you sound very organized with your mail system. I only use one account, essentially and I resist paying anyone a monthly fee, attractive as Apple's co-ordinated system is in theory. I actually did try to use it at one point but I couldn't import addresses from Entourage so I said **** with it. It SAYS you can import, but you can't--or at least it's so messy that you have to correct every item by hand.


  • cornelius Level 6 Level 6 (17,825 points)

    Reset PRAM
    1. Shut down the computer.
    2. Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command, Option, P, and R. You will need to hold these keys down simultaneously in step 4.
    3. Turn on the computer.
    4. Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys. You must press this key combination before the gray screen appears.
    5. Hold the keys down until the computer restarts and you hear the startup chime for the third time.
    6. Release the keys and allow computer to boot.

    Hopefully, this will help Entourage and other apps in the Mac: Office suite.
    I actually did try to use it at one point but I couldn't import addresses from Entourage so I said ** with it. It SAYS you can import, but you can't--or at least it's so messy that you have to correct every item by hand.

    I've never used Entourage, as I noted previously, so I have no experience importting from Entourage. In terms of Address Book, I built mine up over time, and it is very handy. However, if you are used to Entourage and it works for you, I am sure that if fine.

    Let me know if resetting the PRAM works.

  • gblunt99 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks Cornelius,

    I reset the PRAM. Now I guess we'll see how it goes. I suspect all this is stemming from my aborted attempt to do the 7-pass erasure of empty space. Big mistake to abort that process. I thought I'd fixed it by doing a complete zeroing-out (single pass) but maybe some problems linger. Anyway, we'll see.