Manage your files more efficiently
Software for Windows, with or without Microsoft Excel
File management is one of hardest things to organise on your computer, and harder on a network where multiple people may have access to the same files but with different ideas of where they should be stored and how they should be named. In order to maintain your filing structure, you first need to know what you have and where they are. This is especially true with data that you have just received, maybe from a client or the other side in a dispute, and you need to understand what you have, quickly.
Windows Explorer is not the best tool to do that. You can only see one folder at a time, and accessing more than basic information can be difficult, to say the least. Also, its search facilities are limited and results for non-indexed locations can be slow. And once you have got the results, you cannot copy them so that you can paste the file names en masse into a Word document or spreadsheet; instead, you have to select and copy the names one at a time.
How do you want to use data?
In addition, there is a depth of hidden information that is arguably even more useful to you, the user, than what it does show. For instance, you may want to see only Word files that you last saved. Or maybe Excel files that you initially created, and somebody else may have subsequently edited. How about photographs that were taken in a specific location, videos created by a certain encoding process, or MSG emails that had PowerPoint attachments and were sent in the last two weeks? (This is something which Windows cannot help with at all.) You may be able to find what you are looking for, but how much time will it take?
Another way to assist with file management can be to create snapshots of how your hard drive, a network drive, or a set of folders looked like on a particular day. This way, you can know with certainty what files and folders were present at a point in time. This can be useful if, for example, you wanted to send out a CD or hard drive to a client, and needed to document its contents. (See this article on how that has saved me on more than one occasion, and why memorialising can be a good discipline.) Additionally, searches are faster if you have already got the files cataloged on a previous occasion.
For bigger companies, there are solutions out there which cost big money, but what if you don’t need that. We have had the above problems, which is why we came up with four pieces of software, some of which we have been using for over the last 11 years.
Cataloging and Metadata Extractor Programs
Filecats Standard and Filecats Explore are file and folder catalogers and file-list managers, which capture the file and path information, together with commonly used attributes such as dates and size, and inserts them into a table, so that you can then filter, sort, and copy and paste them as you wish.
Filecats Professional and Filecats Metadata go further. As file cataloguers, they can do all of the above. As metadata extractors, they can capture up to several hundred additional fields of document properties. This include items such as:
- When a Microsoft Office document was last printed, the individual who last saved it but who also created it, the template and statistics such as number of words, paragraphs, slides. Find out more about Microsoft Office metadata here.
- The size of an image, what mobile phone or other device a photograph was taken with, and when the camera recorded its capture. Find out more about photo and other image document properties here.
- Also, if a device is GPS enabled, it can also record where a picture was taken (its latitude, longitude and other attributes can pin-point its location). For more about GPS properties and how to put them on a map, click here.
- The duration of an audio clip, what encoding a video has used, the name of a CD album are just some of the extractable audio/video metadata. Find out more about audio/video metadata here.
- Support for viewing document properties for Outlook emails extracted into Windows Explorer is non-existent. However, there are literally hundred of metadata, such as when an email was sent, the number and names of attachments, the sender and subject of the email and its recipients (To, CC and BCC), all the way down to the text of the body in plain text and HTML format and the Delivery Headers. Find much more about MSG email metadata.
- And MSG files are more than just emails. Calendar MSG files have start and end time and dates, together with subject, location and attendees; task files have percentage complete and when complete; Journals, when enabled, can be used to prove what files were accessed (and for how long); and Contacts files can have addressed, birthdays, anniversaries, postal addresses, email addresses, whether an image has been attached – the list is very long.
While you cannot do much about viewing or searching through the document properties in Windows Explorer, both Filecats Professional and Filecats Metadata are able to extract this data and place it into a spreadsheet or table for you to filter, search and create analyses.
So why four versions?
- Filecats Standard and Filecats Professional require Microsoft Excel to have already been installed, and they catalog and extract the data into a spreadsheet, so you can use the powerful tools within Excel to create powerful analyses in minutes. (See these articles about how to do exactly that.)
- Filecats Explore and Filecats Metadata do not require Microsoft Excel, and so can even run on a newly installed computer. The data is placed in a self-contained table, and the data can be re-sorted, filtered and analyses can be created from within the program (see this manual page as to what can be done). If that is not sufficient, then this open-box system allows part or all of the data to be copied, and so you can paste what you need into your favorite applications, thus allowing you to do what you will.
|These programs have been sped up over the years, as technology has improved. Whilst writing this, I have captured the 219,500 files on my desktop computer using Filecats Explore in under 2 minutes – and the video on the right is from my laptop.There is a 7-day trial available. So what have you got to lose?You can see the video below to see what sort of information you can obtain for your use, but in order to describe further these programs and find out which can help you best, I need to know – have you got Excel? Do you like using Excel?|
|Yes, I’ve got Excel. Please tell me more about cataloging and extracting metadata in Excel.|
|No, I haven’t got Excel. I want to know more about Filecats Explore and Filecats Metadata.|