Syncing Your Files and To-dos with Things Folders

IMG_DESCRIPTIONIn my very first ProfHacker post, I declared my devotion to Cultured Code’s beautiful to-do list application Things. As I wrote then, I use Things to organize the many new tasks that come in each day—whether in meetings, over the phone, or by email.

In fact, I have only one complaint with Things: the program doesn’t handle files very well. Often when a task comes in via email, it’s accompanied by a file that I will need to complete the task: an application or recommendation form, for example. Things does allow me to drag a file onto a task, but it only creates a link to the file when I do so; the file itself isn’t copied into Things’ database. If the original file then moves—if the email is moved to a different folder, even—Things often loses track of it, and I have to go searching for the file when I start working on the associated task.

When I heard recently about Jazzaround’s program Things Folders, I hoped that this problem had been solved. According to Jazzaround’s site,

Things Folders creates and manages a folder structure based on your Things projects and areas. Things is great for managing projects. But often you’ll create or receive files that belong to these projects. It’s important that you’ll organize these files in a clean system. Things Folders helps you with your system and helps keep it clean.

That folder structure looks something like this (click image to enlarge):


Essentially, Things Folders allows you to save files related to particular areas or projects into folders that match those areas or projects. Things Folders will change the names and organization of those folders when changes are made to areas and projects within Things. In addition, Things Folders will automatically create a to-do in Things’ Inbox that reminds you to check your Inbox in the Finder for new files.

Unfortunately, during the two weeks I tested Things Folders, I usually forgot that it was there. I forgot Things Folders for one simple reason: it’s not actually inside of Things itself. Aside from the way Things Folders adjusts its structure to reflect Things’ structure, the two programs run independently from one another. Things Folders doesn’t really remove any steps from my current workflow (in which I keep one folder called “to-dos” into which I drop all files associated with tasks in Things).

A quick caveat is in order here. Things Folders is in public beta, and still adding functionality. I hope that Jazzaround can more closely integrate Things Folders with Things itself, and make this program truly useful. What would be ideal?—this kind of dymanic folder structure built into Things itself. Ideally, I could drop a file from an email into a Things to-do, and Things would save the file itself (not a link to the file) into its database—or into a folder structure like that created by Things Folders. Then I’d be able to click on the file within Things to open it, modify the file, and save a new version which I could access if I needed to returned to that task.

In short: Things Folders seeks to address a real problem with Cultured Code’s Things, but it doesn’t integrate as closely with Things as it would need to in order to fully solve the problem. I would love to see Cultured Code buy this idea and build it into the next version of Things, however. What’s more, Things Folders is free while the software is in beta. If you’re a Things user, download it and see if you get more use out of it than I did. If you do find it useful, let us know about it in the comments.

[Creative Commons licensed photo by Quinn Dombrowski.]

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