More information is being shared now than ever before, with emails and collaborative technology it’s much easier to send files to and fro, or simultaneously edit the same document as a colleague.
These files get downloaded from emails, networks and servers onto local hard drives, but how much thought is given to how that file’s name will look on someone else’s desktop?
A classic mistake that we witness most often is when we receive hundreds of Curriculum Vitae (resumes to the non-latin speakers) each with the file name ‘CV.doc’, which once downloaded onto our network can make filing or finding the correct one again a nightmare.
In a company that only has one website, a file named ‘website_text.doc’ may be crystal clear, but when it lands on your web developer’s desktop with the other 52 files with similar names, chances are that name is no longer exceptional.
Problems caused by flaky file names
Mostly, file names like this cause inconvenience or just plain frustration. More embarrassing files with more generic names, can get wrongly attached to emails.
More drastically, files can get overwritten or deleted, changes to files can get lost and the most up-to-date version can get left behind, as well as the progress you’d made.
Yes, we know you can rename it!
But what happens if the file gets sent again? Or if I’m passing the document back and forth to other people? Or if I’m not sure what that document is about till I read it? By naming the file accurately to begin with your going to save a lot of headaches later down the line.
As well as saving you and the people you swap files with time, it’s a good habit to get into. If you upload files to be downloaded online, all these issues are going to affect all the users that download the file and Google uses the name of the file to assess what it’s about, so it will help your search results too.
How to fix it
- Name the file by its title and use version numbers, eg.”how_to_store_files_v1.doc”
- Use dates in the title to distinguish between files that will be created regularly, eg. “ki_minutes_12_4_09.doc”
- If it’s an image, give the dimensions in the name, eg. “trees_230_130.gif”
- Think about what makes the file unique to the reciever, eg “jim_wozname_cv.doc” not “cv.doc”