Don’t make these two file naming mistakes

Mistake #1: not dating files
Mistake #2: dating files incorrectly, ie.: MM-DD-YY

Why add the date to file names?

Date created and date modified are not always accurate.
You can then restrict search results by date, even if only by year.
Adding dates to files enhances Windows® file search.

How and where do I add the date?

Begin each file name with the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) date format:


Skip the dashes for speed. ISO will not arrest you.

What’s wrong with the dates my computer gives files?

Date Created
is the date saved to the system. When you copy a file and paste it, that changes.

Date Modified changes each time you edit and/or save a file.

Why does that matter?

You compose a letter, edit it weeks later and send it weeks after that. Neither the creation nor modify date represent the send date.

You scan a receipt weeks after receiving it. You open it and attach a note weeks after that. Neither the creation nor modify date represent the date on the receipt.

How does dating files help Windows® file search?

Say you bought tires and they’re shot. You need the receipt for the warranty.

Hopefully you add meta data to file names, in this example: tires.

Typing “tires” into Windows® file search produced the results in the screenshot below. Notice the following issues:

Date created is not the receipt date.
Date modified is not the receipt date.
There are 149 results

Now look at the results using the modified ISO format.

Even though some of the files were created or modified in 2016, the results only contain receipts from 2015.

For more on the paperless process, see The Link Principle:

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