Do you struggle with correct file management on your Mac? You are certainly not alone, as many people find it challenging to grasp the concept.

The latest versions of Apple’s desktop Operating System, OS X, have included the Home Folder that is immediately noticeable by the humble icon of the house.

home icon

The Home Folder is designed to allow a specific user’s content to be located within one easy to access area. This also makes the backup process more straightforward and user friendly. Things are further simplified when you have multiple users, using the same Mac. With different user accounts, each person is assigned their own Home folder. This is an advantage as users will not be able to access content within other user’s home folders.

Within the Home Folder, Apple has some dedicated folders for your content. They include, but are not limited to, Downloads, Documents, Movies, Desktop, Applications, Pictures, Music, Sites, and Public.

home folder

Each of these folders suit a specific purpose. For example, iPhoto will use the Pictures folder and iTunes will use the Music folder. Likewise, iMovie will use the Movies folder.

Users are also not limited to using only these folders within the Home directory. You can add your own files or folders at will. Services like Dropbox also take advantage of the Home Folder by placing their sync folder within this area.

In fact, you can even use an alias folder in the Home directory. An alias is essentially a shortcut to files or folders that are located in other areas of your Mac, or on external hard drives. The alias folder is unique in its ability to act as a normal folder, whilst not containing the actual files. You can open and save files through the alias folder as you would with a normal folder.

Using alias folders within the Home Folder will ultimately assist you with better file management.

To create an alias of a file or folder, simply select, right click, and choose Make Alias from the drop down menu. You can also navigate to File > Make Alias from the Menu Bar. If you are into keyboard shortcuts, then simply press Command + L when the folder or file is selected. Once the alias is created, simply drag and drop it to your Home Folder.


At anytime, you can view the original non-alias file by selecting the alias and right clicking to present the drop down menu. Then simply choose Show Original.

Another folder type that will significantly assist with file management is the Smart Folder. The Smart Folder is similar in every aspect to a normal folder, but there is one distinct difference. It will only present the content that matches your pre-assigned search query.

As you create new content, it will automatically appear in the Smart Folder should it match your search requirements.

To create a Smart Folder, simply go to the Finder and navigate to File > New Smart Folder. Alternatively, you can press Command + Option + N on your keyboard.

You will immediately notice the Smart Folder Finder window now has a Search bar that contains + and Save buttons.

By selecting the + button, you will be shown customizable search options for the folder. For this example, I will use the first set of options.

file list

Should you want to view all the .pdf files on your Mac, simply set the Smart Folder to search This Mac and make sure the “Kind is PDF”, as shown above.

Or perhaps you would like to view the files modified in the previous 14 days. Simply use the drop down menus to assign “Last modified date is within last 14 days”, as shown below.

file list 2

These are just two examples of how Smart Folders can assist you in locating content on your Mac.

The options are somewhat endless and only limited by the way you wish to use your Mac and search for content.

option files

When you select the Other… option from the Smart Folder drop down menu, you will be presented with a significant list of addition options to choose from.

search options

So what are you waiting for? Set up that Smart Folder and start locating your content with greater ease.

If you have any further questions, or would like to find out more information, please call us or drop into the store to discuss your specific situation.