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The Internet Writing System Inside Windows Explorer
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

When we hear about content management systems, we often hear about web server software like WordPress, Blogger, or Joomla. We might even hear about knowledge-based software or some other database-like software. For people who work with site mechanics, those options are appropriate (and even fun, depending on who you talk to). For literary folks, however, those tools aren't any fun at all. They take too long to learn and they distract writers from doing what they do best: writing.

That doesn't mean writers don't need to organize things, though. Writers can benefit from using a content management system just as much as "the tech person" can. And there's an easy way to do it that doesn't require any additional software, user manuals, or workshops. Even better, it's free and already on your Windows computer.

Windows Explorer

Windows Explorer organizes data in a system that resembles the old filing cabinet. In this system, directories are like filing cabinet drawers that store manila-colored folders and all the documents that go into them. As such, writers can organize all sorts of material and quicken its access with a well-thought-out folder structure. One such structure might organize content by client, where each online client gets his or her own folder, and each folder stores that client's written content.

 
 

Other structures might organize content by subject matter, keywords, or even marketing channels.

 
 
 

Though the former structure may be more suitable for freelance writers, and the latter may be more suitable for bloggers or other content providers, the end result provides a system that behaves the same way that content database software behaves. That includes searching, sorting, grouping, tagging, and all the other fun stuff that people do with server-based management systems.

If all you need is a basic approach, however, Windows Explorer is more appropriate than ever.

What kind of documents do you repeatedly access? What type of information do you need to access in a hurry? Answering those questions and more will help determine the best way to structure your own writing system. As an "on-again, off-again" content provider, I like to organize my articles by purpose. So my folder structure looks something like this:

 
 
 

To quickly access these folders and the documents that they store (i.e. my writing), I placed a shortcut to the "Writing" directory on my Desktop.

Conclusion

It's unfortunate that Windows Explorer never really got the fame and glory that some of the other pre-installed software received. Most of the time, if it was even discussed at all, it was buried inside an 800-page computer tech book somewhere. Personally, I can't do any real work without it. No matter what I'm doing, Windows Explorer always is open. As a result, I can find things quicker, finish tasks faster, and do a lot more writing.

If you ever find yourself wondering whether you should install the latest content management system or hire a CMS expert just to organize written material, take (another) look at Windows Explorer. It's free, it's simple, and it's already installed.

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