Take the pain out of dealing with files and folders

Take Control of
Managing Your Files

Second Edition
Jeff Carlson

Your Apple devices contain an overwhelming number of files and folders, and as these items accumulate, they create more work for you. Does your file management system involve throwing everything on the desktop and then pawing through it laboriously when you need to find something? Do you even have a system? There’s a better way. This book helps you organize, search, and clean up the files on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad, providing practical steps and realistic strategies to save time, reduce clutter, and decrease stress.

All Take Control books are delivered in two ebook formats—PDF and EPUB—and can be read on nearly any device.


Apple users have fantastic tools at their disposal for using, creating, and editing files of all kinds, but few of us have any real strategy for naming, organizing, or tagging those files—making them increasingly difficult to find later on. In this book, veteran technology author Jeff Carlson helps you make sense of what could be millions of files on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad so that you can spend less time hunting for things and more time doing useful work (or having fun).

Jeff starts by helping you set appropriate file management goals and develop overall strategies that fit your needs and preferences. Then he gets into the details of how to use the Finder (on a Mac), the Files app (in iOS and iPadOS), and third-party tools to make sense of your files and folders and easily find what you’re looking for.

This book covers topics such as:

  • How to keep important items in sync among your devices
  • Choosing when to use internal storage vs. external storage (such as an external hard drive, a NAS, or the cloud)
  • Whether and how to use iCloud Drive to sync your files, including Desktop and Documents folders
  • How to create shortcuts to your favorite files and folders
  • Understanding how the macOS folder hierarchy works
  • The best ways to use the desktop
  • What you should consider when creating a folder hierarchy
  • Why and how to use tags to categorize files
  • How you can automatically sort, rename, and file items on your Mac
  • Ways you can collaborate with others on the same files and folders
  • When to consider third-party information management apps (such as DEVONthink)
  • How to find files and folders with Spotlight in macOS, iOS, and iPadOS
  • Alternative search tools you might want to consider
  • How to work your way through a long backlog of unsorted (or poorly sorted) files
  • Techniques for encrypting sensitive files (and other data)
  • Ways to free up storage space

If you’re struggling with file management, this book will help you get a grip on the process—and get your devices to do more of the hard work for you.

Note: This book focuses on macOS 11 Big Sur through macOS 13 Ventura, and iOS 16/iPadOS 16, but nearly everything it describes is also applicable to older Apple operating systems released over the past few years.

Jeff Carlson

About Jeff Carlson

Jeff Carlson is a contributing editor of TidBITS, a frequent contributor to DPReview, Macworld, and CreativePro, and the author of best-selling books on the Mac, digital photography, and, in earlier incarnations, web design and Palm organizers. He consumes almost too much coffee. Almost.

What’s New in the Second Edition

Organizational strategies don’t often change, but the way we go about them sometimes do. This update incorporates changes to the Mac in macOS 13 Ventura, which shuffled things around (particularly in terms of where system settings are accessed). I’ve also made the following changes or additions:

  • We rarely work alone, so I’ve created an entirely new chapter on how to Collaborate with Others on the Mac and iOS/iPadOS devices.
  • Apple changed how Dropbox and other similar services operate under macOS, which has required some explanation. See “Cloud Storage Changes in macOS Monterey and Later.”
  • I’ve updated the sidebar “What About Bootable Backups?” to account for the fact that the latest versions of macOS make it incredibly difficult to create them.
  • Security is always important, so I’ve added a new section on how to Encrypt Your Files.
  • If you’re using macOS Ventura or later and its Stage Manager feature, you can Hide Desktop Items. I’ve also included Stage Manager in a few places, such as when moving files. See “Move Using Stage Manager in iPadOS.”
  • Related to file security, there’s a new feature that you can enable to encrypt files (and other data) stored in iCloud from end to end. See “Take Advantage of Advanced Data Protection.”
  • At some point, Apple removed the capability to do a Siri search for files in the Finder, so that section has been deleted from the book.
  • I’ve added a section on how to Bulk-Rename Files in macOS.
  • I’ve also expanded the topic of cleaning up your files with a section on how to Free iOS and iPadOS Storage Space.
  • Read Me First
    • Updates and More
    • What’s New in the Second Edition
    • Basics
  • Introduction
  • Quick Start to Managing Your Files
  • Set File Management Goals
    • Answer Key Questions
    • Set Goals
  • Develop Strategies that Work for You
    • Consider File Management Strategies
    • Sync Multiple Devices and Computers
    • Choose Between External and Internal Storage
    • Back Up Your Files
    • Encrypt Your Files
  • Organize Your Files
    • Create Priority Shortcuts
    • Understand the Layout
    • Understand the Desktop
    • Organize Using Files and Folders
    • Organize Using Tags
    • Automate File Organization
    • Use Information Management Apps
  • Collaborate with Others
    • AirDrop Between Devices
    • Shared Storage Service Folders
    • Collaborate in Apps
  • Find Your Files
    • Find Files in macOS
    • Find Files in iOS and iPadOS
  • Clean Up Your Files
    • Set a Cleaning Strategy
    • Free Up Storage Space
  • About This Book
    • Ebook Extras
    • About the Author
    • About the Publisher
  • Copyright and Fine Print

Jeff Carlson Talks File Management on MacVoices

Posted by Joe Kissell on June 21, 2023

Jeff Carlson joined host Chuck Joiner on MacVoices to talk about the new edition of Take Control of Managing Your Files.

In part one, Jeff talks about what has changed in the book, collaborating on files, and organizing files with iCloud Drive and Dropbox.

In part two, Jeff says more about storing your files in the cloud and how that interacts with backups.


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Take Control of Managing Your Files”

You may also like…