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How to Make an Inventory of Your Hard Drives – List Your Finder Window

Published on January 12, 2013 by

Working with high-resolution video or high quality audio it is inevitable to accumulate a number of external hard drives or solid state drives in order to provide enough room for storage of projects. If you want to be on the save site and backup your files, you need even more disk space.

A couple of years later and you end up with dozens of 0,5, 1, 2 … TB hard drives realizing that you have forgotten to make an inventory of your HD collection including an appropriate numbering system. In this situation it is pretty hard to find the exact project you are looking for. Most of the time you have to guess and connect 3-4 hard drives to your mac before you find the project you want.

I am currently running an internship at a small dutch recording studio in Amsterdam. For the problem described above I had to find a quick and effective solution. My idea was to create an Excel spreadsheet containing the name, date of creation and size of every folder and the most important sub-folders of every hard drive.

To distinguish the drives physically it is also useful to give them unique names ideally including a number and year figures.


Capture a list of the folders, sub-folders and files of your external hard drives using PrintWindow

PrintWindow is a great program which lets you create a list of the folders and files of your finder. In the following, I describe step by step how to get from you hard drive mess to a sorted list in Excel or Numbers of your hard drive collection

  1. Download, install and run PrintWindow (alternatively you can use PrintFinder but PrintWindow is much more customizable)
  2. Connect the external hard disk drive to your mac and open it in Finder
  3. Press ⌘+p (cmd+p)
  4. Go to Layout and choose one option. I either pick ‘do not expand folder’ or ‘manually expand folders’ to keep my list clear

    inventory hard drive print window

  5. Go to Fields&Sorting and check ‘Name’, ‘Kind’, ‘Size’, ‘Date Created’, ‘Date Modified’ and Labels as well as ‘Sort by Date Created’.hard drive inventory print finder list
  6. Check ‘Use as Default’ to save time in future.
  7. Press ‘Print’ and save your PDF wherever you want to.
  8. In the free version of PrintWindow you can’t save in excel or txt format so you need to convert it yourself.
  9. Copy the converted txt or excel file to your inventory Excel Sheet.
  10. Repeat step 2-9 with another hard drive

Naming your external hard drives

If you finished the upper how-to you now have one long Excel Spreadsheet with folder lists of every hard drive you own. The next step is to give them appropriate names to find them quickly when needed.

My suggestion is to give each drive a unique number like 001, 002, …  035 and to include the period of time in which the projects saved on the disk were created. For example, on disk 035 the first project started in 2009 and the last in 2011. With that you can create a unique and useful name looking like this:


At last, put the name above each list and on each corresponding hard drive. To make it look neat I suggest using a label printer like [amazon_link id=”B0047T7JMW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]this one[/amazon_link].


How to use your hard drive inventory

Example: You are searching for a project with the name ‘band recordings 2011′. Open your excel list press ⌘+f search for ‘band recordings 2011′. Scroll to the name of this list and search for the hard drive carrying the same name.

Update your inventory from time to time and enjoy having it.




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