Shortcuts: No Shortcut to a Successful Shared Drive

For those of you using shared drives and not advertising shortcuts as a great solution to staff member’s file path and collaboration problems, I would like to ask: Why not? Probably because you have a million other things going on, but shortcuts really are one of the best ways to help staff collaborate on the most updated version of a document, organize their file paths, help mitigate the number of convenience copies in the shared drive and save storage space. 

What is a shortcut, you ask?

A shortcut creates an electronic file path that links an original file/folder in one location to a placeholder that can be stored in another location. When opening the shortcut file/folder, the person still opens the original file/folder. We’ll explain in this article why this is so handy!

Why use a shortcut?

Collaboration for them, fewer convenience copies for you.

Shortcuts are great for files that multiple staff members collaborate on because the shortcut will always open the original record. This ensures that changes are being made to the original record. Administratively, this guarantees that employees are always looking at and using the most updated document with the most up-to-date information. Records management-wise, this also ensures staff are not saving convenience copies among various folders, which would require staff, liaisons, and Records Management Officers (RMO) to wrangle all the strays at time for disposition. See our article, Official Record Copy, for reasons why you don’t want to overlook convenience copies when it comes time for disposition. 

Another added benefit: When the original record is deleted, the shortcut link will be broken. So, even if you forget to delete all the shortcuts or cannot find them all, the record will cease to exist when you delete the original. 

"You, to all those unnecessary convenience copies." Kirsten Dunst in Bring it On saying and waving "buh bye."

Everyone gets their favorite file path.

Another reason to incorporate shortcuts, is to create convenient file paths for files/folders that deserve to live in multiple locations. Case in point: What category would you place a file called “Kitten” under? “Ruler of the World,” “Purrrfect,” or “Adorable”? All of these are absolutely correct; with a shortcut you would place the original in one folder and you or others could create a shortcut for the remaining folders.

Where would you place a file called "kitten"? Ruler of the Word, Purrrfect, or Adorable. The original record is filed in Ruler of the Word with shortcuts in the Purrrfect and Adorable folders. Below is a kitten looking up.

Don’t worry about moving the original and breaking the file path. If the original still exists, the file path will automatically update, so staff can open the record without any issues. 

Need to find the original record’s file location? Right click on the shortcut and select properties to see where the original is located. 

Did someone ask for more electronic storage?

Using shortcuts saves your office a significant amount of storage space. There is no uniform size of a shortcut, but the shortcut will be less storage space than the original file/folder. For comparison… 

  • 1000 kilobytes (KB) = 1 megabyte (MB).
  • In our electronic storage, we have 3 folder shortcuts:
    • All 3 shortcuts are 2 KB each. A total of 6 KB.
    • The original folders are a total of 46,580 KB or 46.58 MB.
    • This means that using the shortcuts v.s. duplicating the folders, saved us 46,574 KB or 46 MB. Almost as much storage as the original files. 
  • In our electronic storage, we have 2 file shortcuts:
    • Both shortcuts are 3 KB. A total of 6 KB.
    • The original files are a total of 98 KB.
    • This means using the shortcuts v.s. duplicating the files, saved us 92 KB. Still, pretty close to the original file’s size.

How to create a shortcut?

Creating shortcuts is simple and free! Right click an electronic file or folder within your computer and select “Create Shortcut.” A new shortcut icon will appear in the list of files. Copy and paste the shortcut into the folder where you’d like it to be.

When not to use shortcuts:

Shortcuts are probably not needed for records that only one staff member uses or sees. 

Most importantly, never use a shortcut as a backup. If you delete the original, the shortcut will no longer work, so this is not a backup prevention method. 

The possibilities of shortcuts are endless. We suggest experimenting with shortcuts, thinking of uses for them within your office, and presenting it at the next training or staff meeting to peak people’s interest. Even better, we suggest creating a short tutorial that outlines why, when, and how to use a shortcut. Paired with proper filing, your tutorial will help your staff become more efficient and collaborative. 

For more tips on cleaning up your shared drive, check out our other articles: 

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