I’ve been using a desktop search tool called Copernic. It has changed the way I organize my digital world. Copernic and other similar tools like Google desktop make searching for a file on your machine so easy that the concept of folders may well be headed for the rubbish bin of history.
Nitin, our CTO, doesn’t use folders in Outlook anymore. He just lets the emails sit in his inbox until they get archived. Copernic and Google desktop are so much faster than clicking through folders. And the archives are indexed as well. Using folders takes more time and effort to set up and maintain, yet takes longer on retrieval. Seems like Outlook folders are going to get vestigeal pretty quick.
Over the years I have developed (what I thought was) the good habit of filing away files and emails and notes into neat, nested folders. I’d try and have the same directory structure and folder names in Outlook, Windows directory and Evernote, which I use for notes. Old habits die hard, but I am tempted to chuck it all and trust Copernic.
There is one reason though that makes it hard to abandon all those folders in Windows. If you want to attach a file to an email, Outlook requires you to navigate through folders. If you’ve dumped all files in My Documents with no file structure below that, you’re in trouble. Going the other way, that is to find the file first and then create an email should be doable but it isn’t the way most people work.
I’m hoping the wunderkinds at Google are thinking of a way around this (that does not involve saying ‘use Google mail’). I don’t think Microsoft is up to it. They’ve got bigger problems. Like rolling out Vista before their XP upgrade revenue dries up.