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The Ultimate Computer Organization System For Your Downloads & Start Menu

Computers and Technology: Personal Tech • Published: February 19, 2010

FINALLY! A set system to follow, to find files fast!

You just downloaded a file from the Internet – do you know where it went? You installed a program on your computer – do you have to hunt for it in that huge mess of stuff in your “Start Menu”? Are these a constant source of stress in your life?

In the last month, how many hours have you spent looking for files? Ready for a change? Here it is!

If you’re like me, you love to surf the web and download tons of fun files. In a short amount of time, your “Downloads” folder can become a massive trash heap of files you don’t recognize and couldn’t file away if you wanted to. Worse, after you installed those downloaded programs, your trash heap gets duplicated onto your Start Menu as Windows slaps everything in there.

The key to controlling all those downloaded files is proper labeling and storing while you still know what they are. The secret is to setup your “Downloads” Folder and your “Start Menu” with identical folder structures (which means they are the same). That way, you have a logical place to transfer the things you download and also have a storage system for downloaded programs that you installed.

Note that for these two places you’re setting up folders of your programs, not folders of your personal categories. Here’s why: in the “Downloads” and “Start Menu,” you’re dealing with programs (or applications) instead of simple filing and storage. This can become quite confusing, particularly if you use your computer for a lot of important functions or business.

So now I’ll spell out exactly how to mirror your folders in each.


Here are my “Downloads” folders: Downloads

  • + Accessories, Utilities
  • + Audio-Video
  • + Camera, Printer, Scanner
  • + Computer Maintenance
  • + Games
  • + Productivity
  • + To Be Filed

When you see “Audio-Video,” remember that these are programs you install and run, not audio or video files that you’re storing. Don’t forget what kind of things are going into your folders. If I leave downloaded programs in the “To Be Filed” folder until I install them, it’s important to file them immediately after installation.

Also, when you download (which means “save to your hard-drive from the internet”) files that are just for storage, such as PDF files, Word documents, songs, videos, etc., you need to move them out of the “Downloads” folder to a proper storage folder in your “My Documents” section.


[This discussion assumes you are familiar with the Start Menu and how to alter it. If not, please review my article, “Changing Programs Listed On Your Start Menu,” or from the website at the bottom of this article, get my book, which has much more detail and illustrated screenshots.]

Here’s the list of folders in my Start Menu:

Start Menu

All Programs

  • + Accessories, Utilities
  • + Audio-Video
  • + Camera, Printer, Scanner
  • + Computer Maintenance
  • + Games
  • + Productivity
  • + Startup

Those of you who are extra sharp may have noticed that list is exactly the same as the one above for “Downloads,” except for the last folder in each. You don’t want a “To Be Filed” in your Start Menu, and you don’t need a “Startup” folder in your Downloads. Two of the Start Menu folders, Accessories and Startup, are mandatory (or at least Windows thinks so, and will recreate them if you delete them). I don’t recommend deleting or renaming those two, since they serve important functions in Windows. It’s totally up to you what folder categories you choose, but you can use these 7 as a starting point. I’ve used those same 7 for years and never found a reason to change them.


Under those 7 folders I have many sub-folders (all of which I list in my book). To give you an idea, here are the sub-folders under my “Computer Maintenance” folder:


+ Computer Maintenance

  • – Backup, Recovery
  • – Diagnostic, Maintenance
  • – Networking
  • – Security
  • – Settings, Tweaks
  • – System Tools

Each one of those sub-folders has another list of folders and programs under them. Again, these are all user-definable, but until you have taken charge of all your programs, you can make your life much easier by using what I have here. In helping others control their computer chaos, most people I’ve consulted with just want a system to follow, and that’s what you just received. I’ve learned that “better” is the enemy of “done,” and it’s simple to initiate this system and be functional. As you incorporate this system, it will begin to make more sense as you see the benefit of being able to track your installed programs.

Now you know how to setup and sync your Downloads Folder and your Start Menu. To learn what to do with the REST of your data – “My Documents” files, emails, internet bookmarks, programs, photos, songs, video clips, everything – you have to get my book! (You didn’t think I was going to tell you everything, did you?)

To continue learning about The Ultimate Computer Organization System, read my article, “The Ultimate Computer Organization System For Your Digital Photos.”

John Gordon Cini is The Technology Doctor and author of the book “Computer Chaos Control,” which:

  • shows you how to store EVERYTHING on your computer so you can find files fast,
  • explains how to setup folders for all your programs, and
  • gives you a system to sync folders across the programs you use most often (such as internet, email, songs, videos, and word documents).

Learn more about the book at

(c) Copyright – John Gordon Cini. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Article Source:

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  1. […] Now you know how to store your photos, see how you can sync your Downloads Folder with your Start Menu. To continue learning about The Ultimate Computer Organization System, read my article, “The Ultimate Computer Organization System For Your Downloads & Start Menu.” […]

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