Computer Tip: Start Search & Spotlight
Here’s a tip for finding programs and files faster on Vista and OS X. Sorry, XP users; there is no easy equivalent feature for you without add-on software.
In both Windows Vista and Mac OS X there is an easier way to find your programs and files than navigating through your Programs menu or the Finder. Use Start Search or Spotlight instead.
In Windows Vista, click the Start button (or press the Start key on your keyboard) and begin typing part of the name of the program or file you are looking for. Windows will search for any matches and place them in the Start menu. You can either click on the one that you want, or use the arrow keys and Enter to select one from the list. I use this method exclusively for finding programs in Vista because it is much faster than clicking All Programs and finding what I want there.
Most Mac owners already know this trick, but just in case you don’t: In Mac OS X, click the magnifying glass in the upper right of the menu bar, or press Cmd + Space, and begin typing the name of the program or file you want. Then, just like in Vista, click on the one you want or use the arrow keys and Enter to select an entry in the list. Spotlight search results can be customized under System Preferences to include or exclude the various types of files on your computer, and to change the order in which they appear.
Multimedia Tip: Organizing Photos
If you have had a digital camera for a while I hope by now you’ve come up with a system that makes it easy to go back and find your photos. Trying to manage one large folder with hundreds or thousands of files sure isn’t easy.
With the tens of thousands of pictures I have taken in the last few years I had to come up with an efficient method for cataloging images. So here’s what I’ve come up with.
Inside my Pictures folder I have about a dozen major categories… People, Places, Events, etc. Inside each of those folders is a subfolder with the name of the person/group, place, event, as well as a date. Then within that folder I might break things up even more. So if I had been taking engagement pictures for Tim & Angie, the folder would be People\Tim & Angie – May 2008\Engagement or something like that.
Using that system I can always very quickly find the images that I want. I have seen some people organize their photos solely by date, which might seem logical, but in the long term it gets hard to remember when a given event took place, or the day you took photos of your cousin Harry. But if I do want to search by date, I can just use my computer’s search feature to look for the month and year as part of the folder name. Easy as pie.
There are some software programs available that are designed to help organize photos, and some are very good. But in my experience most of them start to choke on large numbers of images, so personally I have given up on them. But no matter, the system of using folder has served me very well for a decade.