July 30, 2009

Overcoming “Lost File Syndrome”

Surf’s Up – Internet News …. dedicated to providing information about the Internet.

chrisBy Chris Cournoyer

Have you ever been looking for a document or other file on your computer only to find that you have come down with “Lost File Syndrome”? It’s a condition when you know that somewhere on your hard drive, the file that you are looking for is there somewhere, but you just can’t find it – in fact, you might not even remember the name of it.

Organizing and finding files with the folders and rigid hierarchies of the past might have made sense back when we had only a few hundred files, but we’re now swimming in literally thousands of photos, images, files, movies and other data.

So now what? If you are a Windows user, instead of bothering with the painfully slow built-in search tool, it is recommended that you use the new free Windows Search from www.microsoft.com. (Just type in “Windows Search” in the text box at the top of the page to find the page on Microsoft.com and then click on the “Get It Now” button on the
Windows Search 4.0 page.) This powerful tool can dig up email messages, attachments and documents of almost any type, even if you don’t know the exact file name.

Another option is the free Google Desktop Search (desktop.google.com). This application allows you to search your computer as easily as you search the web with Google, finding and launching applications and files with just a few keystrokes.

If speed is your main concern, Copernic Desktop Search (CDS) (found at copernic.com) can complete most searches in less than a second. CDS allows users to instantly search files, e-mails, and e-mail attachments stored anywhere on their PC’s hard drive. The application executes sub second searching of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, Acrobat PDFs, multimedia, etc. and it is available in three versions: Home, Professional and Corporate. The Home version is free.

Keep in mind that all of these tools allow you to search not only for file names, but also text within the files as well.

Mac users can try the built in Spotlight feature, which allows users to search by file type, creation date, and more. Or, for $60, Leap 2 (from ironicsoftware.com) lets you tag files so you can run complex searches. With Leap 2 you find things based on your natural memory of that file. “a big Photoshop file of a basketball court” or “Something I tagged important” or “A word document somewhere in my documents folder.”

That’s where tags come in. Tags are keywords that you assign to a file. This makes it extremely easy to find documents, regardless of their location. Leap’s ability to quickly browse “like documents” allows you to stumble upon not only the file you were looking for but sometimes an even better one that you weren’t looking for.

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