Smart Folders

smartA folder is like a draw. They are simple and self explanatory… you put stuff in them and thats where they stay and that’s all there is to it.

But the Mac OS lets you create “smart” folders that turn the concept of the humble folder into something very different and a whole lot more useful.

You’ll find the word Smart in all kinds of places in Apple software, iPhoto, Mail and – as in this case – the Finder. They all do the same thing, namely filter out everything else except what you are most interested in. It sounds scary but honestly it isn’t.

Lets just say you have files all over your Mac that relate to tax, both personal and business. Using Smart folders you could create a Smart Folder that displays only Tax items all in one place without hunting all over your Mac copying and pasting and generally wishing you had never started.

1. While in the Finder click on the File menu and choose New Smart Folder

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2. Now type the thing you are looking for, essentially a search.

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3. Now this isn’t very useful yet because it has found emails and all kinds of stuff but all I want are PDFs. Luckily you are able to refine your search in all kinds of ways by clicking on the Add button.

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4. Now that all my Tax Pdf’s have been found I can save my smart folder to a convenient location and with a meaningful name.

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5. Clicking on Save means that the smart folder is right there and by opening it I can see all my Tax documents any time I wish.

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But the clever thing is this folder doesn’t actually hold anything at all! The magic, the head spin, is that these files aren’t actually in that folder at all. I could trash that folder and all my PDF’s would be safe because they haven’t actually moved.

Think of it this way… this folder is displaying the entire contents of my hard disk but has hidden everything except files that contain the word “tax” and displayed the results in this smart folder.

Once you start using Smart Folders you’ll wonder why you have spent so many years hunting and gathering files on your mac.

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