How to Organize Files with Subfolders in Mac OS X Lion - dummies

How to Organize Files with Subfolders in Mac OS X Lion

By Bob LeVitus

Folders in Mac OS X Lion work like manila folders in the real world. Their icons look like folders, like the one in the margin to the left; they can contain files or other folders, called subfolders. In Mac OS X Lion you can also put any icon inside a folder. You can also put folders inside other folders to organize your icons. A folder “nested” inside another folder is called a subfolder.

You can create subfolders according to whatever system makes sense to you, but why reinvent the wheel? Here are some organizational topic ideas and naming examples for subfolders:

  • By type of document: Word-Processing Documents, Spreadsheet Documents, Graphics Documents

  • By date: Documents May-June, Documents Spring ’03

  • By content: Memos, Outgoing Letters, Expense Reports

  • By project: Project X, Project Y, Project Z

When you notice your folders swelling and starting to get messy (that is, filling with tons of files), subdivide them again by using a combination of these methods that makes sense to you. Suppose that you start by subdividing your Documents folder into multiple subfolders. Later, when those folders begin to get full, you can subdivide them even further.


Allow your folder structure to be organic, growing as you need it to grow. Let it happen. Don’t let any one folder get so full that it’s a hassle to deal with. Create new subfolders when things start to get crowded.

If you want to monkey around with some subfolders yourself, a good place to start is the Documents folder, which is inside your Home folder (that is, the Documents folder is a subfolder of your Home folder).

If you create your own subfolders in the Documents folder, you can click that folder in the Dock to reveal them.


It’s even more convenient if you choose to view the Documents folder as a list.