What’s in a (File)Name?

Shannel Wheeler
3 min readOct 23, 2022

File names — what’s the big deal? The big deal is that file names can be the difference between a smooth workflow and a slow one, uploading/sharing the right or wrong file, or how much time you might spend searching for a file. Don’t get me wrong, there are many ways to name your design files and tons of “expert” advice out there on the most efficient way to do so. But let’s keep it simple for now.

Here are 3 reasons to pay more attention to how you name your files, whether they are images, documents, icons, native design files, etc:

Stay organized

It’s important to stay organized for yourself and for others. Instead of saving all your files to the endless pit called the Downloads folder (or even worse, your desktop), use folders to organize your projects and files. For example, save all downloaded stock photos to a folder called “Stock Images”; then you could name/rename each stock image file according to what the photograph actually is a picture of instead of an arbitrary file name.

If you are collaborating with a team (i.e. other designers, creatives, managers, clients, etc.), then it’s so important that everyone is viewing or using the correct files. Imagine printing 1000 copies of the wrong file or loading the wrong PowerPoint version of the CEO’s big presentation! Avoid these pitfalls by staying organized. The fastest way to identify a file (no matter the operating system) is by its filename, which should be accurate, concise, and technically efficient. Depending on the organization you’re working for or with, they may have a specific file naming system they require you to follow. Either way, follow a system that makes sense for you and for others and remain consistent.

Increase speed and efficiency

Have you ever spent an ungodly amount of time looking for a file on your computer? Scanning hopelessly through Finder can be so frustrating. If you haven’t found out yet — workflow is everything. When searching, placing, or sending files, you want to move as fast as possible, so that you can reserve more time for things that really matter (like creating). Time and efficiency come into play when you need to meet deadlines for work, school, or client projects; make your life easier by naming your files in a way that makes them…

Shannel Wheeler

Left-brain creative | Brand/Design Implementation | Design Instruction and Inspiration | Creating with Purpose: https://shannelwheeler.com