F is for Filing

How many ‘New year, new you’ articles have you seen since January 1st? New year resolutions have mostly gone out of the window by now – I fell off the wagon a week ago. But a quick look at your computer desktop or filing system may persuade you to start a new way of sorting your digital documents, music, movies and photos.

Here are some top tips for taking control of your digital world.

  1. First of all – if you share a computer, create a different account for each person that uses it. Then you are in charge of your own files and no-one else can delete your contact lists or favourite recipes. Welcome_Sceeen_Full_20060812
  2. Then, it sounds obvious, but for your documents, use the Documents folder on your computer and make new folders for every topic, such as holidays, school, work or utilities. Right clicking on your desktop is the easiest way to make a new folder. Don’t be put off by a lifetime’s backlog – just create a folder called filing to 2013 and start your new organised system off with this year’s files. You may never sort out the chaos of yesteryear, but at least you’ll be able to find the most recent tax return or school report.Documents folder
  3. When it comes to photos, it’s best to do your filing from within a programme and let it do all the organising. iPhoto on a Mac or Windows Photo Gallery are both excellent, but beware of other systems that come free with your camera or printer. They are not as good and, if you change your equipment in the future, it may be hard work moving your photos. See also https://fingertipsblog.com/2014/01/10/a-new-broom/ for how to slim down your photo library.iPhoto 500
  4. Movies are very similar – we would suggest using iMovie on a Mac or Movie Maker on a PC – part of the Windows Essentials package – and making folders within your chosen programme. These programmes will sort your video files by date so that you can easily find what you’re looking for.Movie Maker
  5. Delete old and useless files – just like de-cluttering your house, be ruthless to free up space on your hard drive.trash
  6. When you download a file from email or the Internet, it will go to a designated folder. There is a folder called Downloads, but we change our settings so that everything is saved to the Desktop. Whatever you choose, don’t leave downloads where they land – file them or delete them. Downloads
  7. Don’t keep any files on your desktop – apart from the ones you are using at that moment. You won’t be able to find anything and it slows down your computer.Messy desktop
  8. Most importantly, back up all your files. There are lots of different ways to do this – but we’ll get to that another day.
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Happy New Mac

or should that be PC on earth?

mac vs pcWith the festive season upon us, the question we are being asked is, should we buy an Apple Mac or a PC.

Ask this question of a computer person and you’re likely to get a black and white answer: it’s all a bit tribal. Mac fans will quote “once you’ve gone Mac, you’ll never go back”. PC and Windows fans see Mac as being a bit limited and a triumph of style over substance.

Of course the real answer is that both have their merits and your choice depends on what you need the computer for and how much you can afford.

ipad and iphoneIf you’re new to computers, and you want something simple to set up and use, a Mac is ideal, especially if you’ve already got iPhones or iPads in your house. It’s easy to learn the systems and Apple send out regular updates to keep your computer current. And everything will play nicely together.

Similarly, if you need to sort out a mass of photos, movies and music, a Mac comes with pre-installed, lifestyle-focused software made by Apple (iLife), and it all works perfectly, straight out of the box.

On the other hand, most of us grew up using a PC and if that’s what you’re used to, there are lots of great options, at a wide range of prices. If all you want is something to browse the Internet and send a few emails, you can pick up a PC for around £250. However, you’ll need to add extra for some bundled software (like Microsoft Office at around £70) and anti-virus software is recommended too – and that’s where it can start to get a bit Vaiocomplicated.

If you quite like the complication and you prefer to have the freedom to choose your own software then you’re a PC person.

It would be easy to sit on the fence, but that doesn’t really help anyone. So we’d say that if you’re after a cheap option with the minimum amount of fuss, go for an entry-level PC. Or choose a powerful PC if you have high-end computing requirements, such as our Kodak photo scanner that only runs with Windows. For everything in between, we would recommend a Mac.