Organizing Your Computer Files

Do you have too many files on your computer? I do.

With movies, pictures, and music becoming totally digital these days, there isn’t enough space to go around.

When I started teaching, my needs for computer storage increased exponentially. Before I even started selling on TeachersPayTeachers, I was totally out of space. It got so bad that I had I had to upgrade to an annual Dropbox subscription so I could store “archived” files on the cloud, rather than my hard drive. (Dropbox provides you with 1 terabyte of cloud storage with guaranteed backup, access, and security for a fee.)

Having all of that space has been awesome, but it would be really easy to lose files without an intentional organization system. As my storage needs grew, I knew that I needed to keep on top of maintaining all of those files.

These are the main categories that I sort everything into, and some of their sub-categories:

  1. Personal
    • Home
    • Sunday School
    • Jobs/Resumes
  2. School (will discuss more later)
  3. Tpt
    • Blog
    • Business
    • Products
  4. Music (I just rely on iTunes to organize my music)
  5. Movies
    • Personal
    • School
  6. Pictures
    • Always sort by year, then “Number of Month (ex. “09” for September) & Event”
  7. Graphics
    • Clipart (that I have purchased)
    • Creations (that I have made)

Whenever I create a file, no matter what it is, it goes into one of these categories.

Now as teachers, we would all agree that probably the most beastly of them all is “School.” Throughout the year, school can take on a life of its own – when it comes to the  classroom, the desk, and the computer. (I am not the only one, right?)

So I divide all my files into folders, sub-folders and more sub-folders. This might be overkill, but it makes everything SO much easier to locate quickly. In a pinch, it helps me to know exactly where to put or find things.

To start, I divide all of my files into the subjects or courses that I teach. The folders are always labelled with the grade level, name of the subject, and edition of the book I am using. For example – “7 History of the World 5th ed.” I taught 7 History of the World 4th ed., but we don’t use that book anymore so I archived the files to the cloud. Right now I am keeping the files in case, I want to reference a test, quiz, or whatever. You will see in the image below that for my 8th grade history class, I have not yet archived the old edition files. This is because I regularly reference the old files. This summer I will archive the old edition.

After I have my courses folders set up, I sub-divide into quarters. Each course gets four sub-folders. “1st Quarter,” “2nd Quarter,” “3rd Quarter,” “4th Quarter.” Does that make sense? Before I organized my files this way, I only sorted by chapter and that was a mess.

Ok, that’s the hard part. My final sub-division is by testing unit. The curriculum that my school uses tests approximately every three chapters. I label the folders as “Unit x Chapters y-z.” Then whatever file I make related to Unit x or Chapter y-z goes into that folder. There is never a question of where something is or where it should be. All school-related files are in their appropriate  folders.

It all sounds complicated, but honestly the hardest part was deciding to organize this way. Set up was easy and keeping organized has been easy ever since.

Now every classroom has certain files that are used over and over and over again. Think – Absence Forms, Memos to Parents, Reward Cards, etc. So I also have two additional folders that sit at the same level as the Courses – “Master Documents” and the school year (Ex. 2016-2017).

That is a lot of info, so here is an outline view within my folder “School” so you can see what I am referring to. Also there is a screenshot below that.

  • 7 History of the World 5th ed.
    • 1st Marking Period
      • 1st Day of School (where I store ice-breaker games, my rules & procedures, syllabus, Back-to-School info)
      • Unit 1 Chap 1-3
        • All the files related to Chap. 1-3
      • Unit 2 Chap 2-6
    • 2nd Marking Period, etc.


Organizing Your Computer Files for School

If you are looking for help organizing, give this system a try. I always recommend trying a new system for a full month or longer. This would actually be most effective if tried for an entire marking period. Let me know how it goes!

How do you organize your computer files?


Cover Image: <a href=””>Designed by Freepik</a>



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