Effortless sorting of a messy Downloads folder

🕔

I have one weakness. Probably thousands more but the one I am thinking of at the moment is one that I have managed to deal with: I am not good at sorting files on my computer. It's not that moving files into folders requires special expertise, but not doing it frequently certainly results in monumental mess.

Of all my folders the most damaged by my laziness is probably my downloads folder. Over time, I download so many files and garbage: dozens of randomly named pdfs, hundreds of mysterious zip archives with their unzipped folders 10 scrolls away.

In the very case of the Downloads folder, there is only but one way to sort it efficiently. The bottom line is: in a downloads folder, you are more likely to be looking for something you just downloaded than something you downloaded several months ago (but is still there, yes, I know...).

What you need then is to sort your files by Date in the descending order, so that most recent files will show up on top as you open you folder. Also, most desktop environment (I'm using KDE and Windows) provide with a grouping mode that can help a lot you eyes to go instantly to the right file.

On KDE

It's a pretty straight forward thing but if you're not familiar with KDE or haven't been very sneaky with it, here is what to do:

  1. First things first, set the view mode to compact. You can do this very quickly with the shortcut ctrl+2 or in the menu as shown in the screenshot. You can't really do without this in very crowded folders.
  2. Now go to Sort By and select Date
  3. In the same menu, enable show in Groups

It's done! Let's have a look at this before/after picture I made for you.

Notice the very explicit naming of my files! My real Downloads folder is no better. There I said it! Those are not my real files, but that's alright because you're not as sneaky as you think are.

In Linux with command line

This is very easy. You just need to grab some courage and open the ls man page to find out what options you have.

ls -ltr
  • -l makes it look like a list with columns with a few details, you can forget it if you want
  • -t sorts the output by date
  • -r reverses the order (it's ascending by default)

Next step it to add an alias to you .bashrc to make this quicker. Just open up you .bashrc and add in this line:

alias lt='ls -ltr'

Next time you step into your Downloads folder, don't try too hard to remember the name of the file you just downloaded, just type in lt and pick up the last line!