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Shorten Long Filenames

March 6, 2018 — Jim Neumann

Names. Names should allow us to quickly identify something at a glance. Tiger. Yeah, I know what that is. 2012 Taxes. Got it. 4d0f1bfec91ff2472.doc… wait, what?!? To make things easier we can create a more specific name, like BankOne VISA - January 2018 Statement - PAID - 2018-01-15.pdf This is certainly more clear but such long filenames may not fully display in all applications or on smaller form factor devices. And word-wrapping can sometimes add to the confusion.

Here is an example filename and some thoughts:

2018-01-25 - SkyRocket Technology - Statement of Accounts - Part 1.pdf​
  1. Consider what is ​necessary ​in the title. A name should not be a sentence. It should contain the high points, not the content of the record.
  2. Abbreviate, abbreviate, abbreviate. For example: SkyRocket Technology could be shortened to SkyTech, or even ST.
  3. Remove word padding, like of. You could easily shorten Statement of Accounts to something like Acct Stmt?.
  4. Use pure numerical values instead of Part N. You could just use 01.
  5. Dates can be written in the European short form: May 5th, 2018, becomes 20180518. It’s not only shorter but also sorts nicely.
  6. In applications like DEVONthink (To Go) you can safely omit the filename extension in the document title. The technical filename is stored separately and is usually not visible.

So that long filename above could easily be expressed as:

20180125 SkyTech Acct Stmt 01.pdf​

This is more than 50% reduction, from 72 to 29 characters, and contains the same essential information.