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As many designers, I sometimes find myself designing elements not for a particular project but only because inspiration was there and I might use it in a later project. It could be a button, an icon, a character or whatever.

When they are finished, I used to just through them inside a folder, which I would reorganise later when I have time. But as their number is growing it becomes more and more difficult to find what I'm looking for.

I think this could be fixed by abandonning folders introducing some tagging system with a search feature, but I would like to hear some thoughts from other designers.

How do you organise and sort you work to be able to retrieve it later efficiently? What software do you use?

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A pricey, but great solution to the problem is Adobe Bridge – K.L. Feb 23 '13 at 0:10
I simply organize a folder with subfolders - icons, buttons, figures, men, women, background, textures. I find Bridge to be bloatware, although many like it. – Scott Feb 23 '13 at 1:56
up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you have a good folder structure (something you follow for every project, plus 'general' resources folders), Bridge or a similar program that shows previews for files like PSD, AI or PDF, should be good enough. I had hundreds of resources to navigate at a previous job, and I used Bridge + IrfranView quite successfully.

Otherwise you could use a database with queries for the different file types (no idea of the specifics), or, if you have a chaos, automate the sorting side of the process using something in the lines of Digital Janitor.

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