How to Organize Movies & Video Files on a Mac: A Guide to Managing Large Files

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Movie Files

You have to be careful when organizing, moving, and deleting movie files. That’s because if you open a project you’ve been working on, and that project needs a specific source file that is gone or can’t be found, you’ll get an error and might not be able to open, play, or finish the project you’ve worked so hard on. Your best bet with the Movies folder is to create subfolders ahead of time and save the files in their proper places while working and creating them.

Once a project is complete and has been exported and saved in a final movie format, you can safely delete or organize the source files and other files used to create the movie. However, if the project is still in progress, I’d suggest leaving all the files where they are until the project is complete. Once the project is complete, consolidate and compress the files required for it. You can always trash them later.

Caution! One minute of DV footage takes up about 220 MB of hard disk space, so multiple movie projects can quickly fill up even the largest of hard disks.

Create Project Folders and Use Them

The next time you start a large project, open the Movies, Videos, or other folder you use for managing your movie files and create a new project subfolder for the files you’ll need. As raw footage, images, music, and documents are embedded or added, move or save the files needed to the new folder or copy them there. If you need to link a file that isn’t used by another document or file, move the linked file to the folder before linking it. If the linked file is used by another application, consider copying the file or leaving it in its original location. You don’t want to move a file that another application of project depends on.

As you continue to work on the project, put all correspondence, edits, and changes in the new project folder. You’ll find that this greatly reduces the time it takes to locate files, save them, or make changes to images or music that you’ve added.

Keep Folders Small for Easier and Faster Opening

A folder with fewer files in it will open faster than a folder with lots of files. It simply takes your Mac less time to obtain the information and offer it to you if there’s less data to locate. It also takes longer to browse through a folder with many files in it to find the file you actually need. A folder (or subfolder) that is 650 MB less in size or can easily be burned to a CD. A folder that is 100 MB or less can easily be backed up to the iMac storage area on Apple’s Internet servers (if you have a MobileMe account). For these reasons, it is generally a good idea to keep folder size to a respectable limit.

If you want to find out how big a folder is, perform the following steps:

  1. Open the folder to check.

  2. Choose View>List View.

  3. If the sizes are not already listed, choose View>Show View Options, and select Calculate All Sizes and This Window Only. Close the dialog box.

  4. You can now calculate how large the folder is. (You can click the Size tab to sort by size.)

  1. When finished, choose View>Show View Options, and deselect Calculate All Sizes. (Leaving it checked only makes your Mac have to work harder than it should each time the window is opened.)

This post is part of the series: Good Mac: Clean Up your Digital Files

If you’ve had your Mac for a few years, you can bet you have a lot of digital data you don’t need or want. Clean it up to get better performance from your Mac.

  1. Get Rid of Unwanted Digital Files
  2. Organize Movies and Video Project Files on Your Mac
  3. How to Use iTunes to Organize the Music on Your Mac
  4. Organize your Mac: Graphics Files and Artwork
  5. Get Rid of Unwanted Digital Files in the Music folder