Non-markdown FIle Management Best Practices

Hi Knowledge Managers,

This post isn’t exactly Obsidian specific, but I’m wondering if this community has any input for managing non-markdown files and keeping track of them in an inherently hierarchical filesystem. For some background, I’m a mechanical engineer using Windows, and I deal with a lot of MS Office documents, PDFs, and photos that I either need to produce, edit, or reference. Converting these to and from .md files to work with in Obsidian is not practical.

I love the way my notes are organized, easy to find, and linkable in Obsidian, and I’m wondering if there is any analogue to this approach for general file management.

My Current Approach

  • Guess early on at directory structure, trying to anticipate the structure of a project and where items will need to be located. Inevitably need to perform large re-organization a few times within project lifetime.
  • Number folders (e.g. 01 - Drawings) so that the default sort order doesn’t change. Helps me to quickly navigate by mouse clicks in explorer.
  • Name files with my initials and date, e.g. Filename_20201001_BSF
  • Generally keep all old versions of files. Periodically move these to the 00 - Archive folder in their respective directory. I rarely reference these, but my hard drive is never full and I’m afraid to delete them.
  • Requires having strong memory of where items were stored. If I don’t remember where I put something, finding it may be challenging.

Desired Capability

  1. Permalinks to files so that I can link to them from my Obsidian notes, and from other files. This means that something will keep track of files even as I change directory names or move files around.
  2. File versioning and merging. Rather than having dozens of old versions of a file, I only have the current version. Alternate versions can be stored under this, and accessed when needed. No more renaming files with dates, or sorting by “date modified” to figure out which one is actually current. This capability would include the ability to rename files as I better understand what they are (i.e First Motion Test Objectives -> Launch Lock Release Test Objectives) without splitting the version history due to a change in title.
  3. Ability to store files (or shortcuts) in multiple folders at once. Think of the graph view for my Zettelkasten notes as opposed to the hierarchical structure imposed by filesystems. In other words, all files could in theory be stored in a single directory on one’s hard drive, but would be easy to find through search or relational linking.

What I’ve looked at

So far I’ve done some searching and found Windows Explorer replacement solutions such as Explorer++ or fman which may do the job, but none of these fully fit the bill. Another path to explore is to use version control software such as git, but I don’t know if this is really applicable to the files I deal with–these seem to be geared for software engineers, but I rarely do any coding as part of my normal workflow.

I’d love to hear if you guys have any input for how to better manage files outside the realm of Obsidian. I’m starting a new long-term project, and having a clear and effective organization of working and reference files is going to be a key to success.

1 Like

I have same problem. Windows and its lack of tag for all the file formats is problematic. I am thinking maybe Making folders parallel to .md files in Obsidian vault. Also should do the same for bookmarks in browser etc. It is not the best solution but it’s a solution.

Also I wonder maybe making a .md files in obsidian about other non-markdown files and manually copying a shortcut into each folder in windows explorer can help.