Saturday, 24 January 2015

Find files at a glance

Where is it? Do I have it?

I've been reading dozens of posts from the Genealogy Do-Over about file naming conventions and file organisation methods. The latest post from Randy Seaver on digital file organisation touches on how quickly he is able to locate his files through consistent naming methods. He does comment
The downside is that there's a lot of clicking to go through the file folder hierarchy to get to the right file folder, but once I'm there it is organized and useful.
The addition of tags and other metadata to files is of course useful for searching for files but for years I have been using this quick shortcut to view and quickly navigate to a file embedded several folders deep.

My hint is to turn on the Desktop Toolbar in the bottom task bar in Windows. Simply right click in a blank space on the bottom task bar and tick the Desktop option. The word Desktop will now appear on the bottom task bar.

Now one can simply click on the two small arrows that appear next to the word Desktop on the task bar and use mouse to slide across the folders until reaching the required file. The folders continue to open to the left, then back over to the right if the files are deeply embedded. This is a quick way to see if you have a file or indeed to show where files may have been mistakenly saved, moved or lost!

And then there were two

Another option is to add  New Toolbar, just choose the folder you want to see. The alternative is to add a shortcut to any folder to the Desktop itself but doing this can very quickly result in a cluttered desktop. Beware too many new toolbars.

This is only useful for viewing the contents of folders and for opening individual files. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

This post first appeared on


  1. Excellent tip - especially when I have forgotten where I put something

    1. Many a time I've found a "lost" file, either incorrectly named or saved in a wrong location! Some things just end up in wrong places all by themselves. :))

  2. Thanks - this may be handy! If I can remember part of a file name, or a bit of text within the file, or date created or modified, I search with Powerdesk - but with the free version that I downloaded many years ago, you need to specify a top-level folder, not just 'My Documents'. Your suggestion gives me another option.

  3. Great tip. My favourite tool for searching is "Search Everything" from fast light weight and excellent for finding those files which "moved themselves"!