43 Folders

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In praise of the junk folder

I often end up using my Desktop as a parking lot for current files. Not exactly an inbox, but given how easy it is to hit CMD-D in a dialog box, it’s where a lot of tmp files, exported jpgs, and assorted stuff naturally ends up. Still, I find it distratcting when too much stuff accumulates there, so I also keep a “Junk” folder on the desktop.

“Junk,” my mounted drives, and my downloads folder are all I want to see permanently on the Desktop, so I label those items a certain color. When things start feeling a bit crufty, I open a new list-format Finder window showing the desktop, sort by color, and grab anything that’s not my permanent label color.

I drag that all into the “Junk” directory, which I’ve set to do an automagic PsyncX backup to an external drive every night. That way, I can prune the local junk folder without ever worrying I’m throwing out something important.

It’s more of a mental crutch than a really useful hack, but I find it an efficient way to deal with stuff I don’t want to devote much thought to. And, at least once a month, I do end up wanting something that I thought was “junk,” in which case I always know exactly where to look.

[BTW: this is a classic TMTOWTDI: there are a bunch of OSX apps and Applescripts that can help you do this automatically. I just prefer this more hands-on way. Feel free to nominate your own cleanup tips in comments, of course.]

About Merlin

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Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




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