How To Export a File Directory To Excel (With Steps and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 8, 2021

When you work in an industry that requires the extensive use of computer files, it can be challenging to organize and keep up with your digital documents. One way to organize your files for easy access is to export them into Excel. Learning how to export file directories into Excel allows you to collect all your important work or personal files in a central location. In this article, we explain what a file directory is, when to export one and how to export a file directory to Excel and offer some tips for exporting files and organizing your file directory.

What is a file directory in Excel?

A file directory in Excel is an organized master list of folder and the files they contain. Directories usually outline the names of folders and list the files saved within them. For example, the marketing department of a business may have digital folders for their end-of-quarter reports dating back to the last three years. The team might store these folders within a single folder named "Quarterly Reports." Within the Quarterly Reports folder, they may have sub-folders for each year, and within those folders, files pertaining to every report.

This organizational structure helps members of the department know where to look for files related to a particular topic, such as the 2018 third-quarter report. A well-organized file directory shows the hierarchy of folders and files that makes the system easy to navigate. This makes it more efficient for individuals to find the information they're looking for or save important documents in a central location. Exporting your file directory into a spreadsheet allows you to access all the files you need from the spreadsheet software, creating a central location for you to access your important documents.

Related: 25 Best Excel Tips To Optimize Your Use

When to export a file directory in Excel

You may choose to export a file directory into Excel to improve your file management system. Here are some reasons to update your file management system:

Improved organization

Good file management improves your digital organization. Just like organizing physical folders in a filing cabinet, having a structured system for organizing your digital files helps you keep track of your documents. When you organize your files effectively, it can reduce stress, make it easier to find the information you need, minimize clutter and improve your ability to share information with others.

Easier access

Storing all your files in a central location makes them easier to access. Organizing them in a spreadsheet means you can access all the important information you need within a single document. The structure of a spreadsheet also makes it easy to view a complete list of your folders and files by listing them in independent cells. Using a central location simplifies your file management system and can save time you might spend looking in various locations for the files you need.

Related: Q&A: Why Is File Management So Important? Plus Benefits

Better communication

In addition to making it easier for you to access your own documents, having a centralized directory for your files makes them easier to share with others. Sharing access to your spreadsheet with other members of your work team allows them to access important work documents all in one place. Additionally, they can add their own documents to the spreadsheet, making it an opportunity for all members of your team to build a master list of essential files.

Fewer errors

Creating a structured and consistent file management system reduces the potential for filing errors. When you develop a system and stick to it, you and every member of your team who uses the directory knows the process for navigating and storing files within it. This reduces the potential for misplaced files by providing clear guidelines for how to use the directory.

Increased security

Finally, having an effective file management system can increase your digital security. By exporting your files into a single spreadsheet, you can control who has access to the sheet by selecting only certain members of your team to have it. It's also possible to set a password for individual spreadsheets in the software, so you can restrict access to the document to only those who have the password.

How to export a file directory to Excel

Here are the steps for how to export a file directory to Excel:

1. Open the file explorer

The first step to exporting a file directory in your spreadsheet is to open the file explorer. You can do this by clicking the file icon on your computer's taskbar, searching for the file explorer or by clicking the "Start" button and selecting "File Explorer." When you open the explorer, a dialog box containing all the files saved to your computer should appear. Within this dialog box, identify a folder you wish to export to your spreadsheet and open it.

2. Open the command window

Once you've opened the folder you wish to export, the next step is to open the command window. The command window allows you to configure data stored on your computer using code. You can open this window by holding down the "Shift" key on your keyboard and right-clicking within your open folder. This should open a menu including an option called "Open PowerShell window here." Select this option to open the command window.

3. Use a command to create a file list

In the command window, type the command "dir/b > dirlist.text" without quotation marks. This command generates a list of all the file names saved within your selected folder. After typing the command, hit the "Enter" key on your keyboard to initiate the prompt.

4. Open Excel and export the files

Now that you've created a list of files from the folders you wish to export, open your spreadsheet. Press "Ctrl+0" to open a dialog box with your available folders. Identify the folder containing the files you wish to export and select the file type drop-down menu. From the menu, click on "Text Files (.prn,.txt,*.cvs)" and double-click on "dirlist.text" to open the file list.

5. Finish and check your directory

Finally, select "Finish" to import the file list into your directory. Once finished, make sure all the files successfully imported to the spreadsheet. Taking time to double-check helps you identify errors so you can resolve them quickly.

Related: How To Alphabetize Excel Cells, Columns and Rows

Tips for exporting Excel file directories

Here are some tips for managing your electronic files in a spreadsheet directory:

Follow a standardized naming system

When using any type of filing system, having a structured naming method can help you stay organized. Using the same naming pattern for all files of a certain type throughout your filing system makes it easy to find files when you need them. You may manage hundreds of files in your workplace, so it can be challenging to remember the names of specific files when you try to search for them. If you have a standardized naming system, all files of a certain type follow the same naming guidelines, making it easier to search for and locate specific files.

Update your directory as you work

Make a habit of regularly updating your directory. If you delete a file from your computer because it's outdated or irrelevant, make sure to remove the listing from your directory. Performing these regular updates as you work prevents your directory from becoming cluttered with files you no longer have. Additionally, updating the directory with each new file you create ensures it's accounted for in your system.

Related: 11 Tips To Help You Manage Your Electronic Files

Stay flexible and experiment

Different organizational systems work for different kinds of employees. Be flexible as you build your file directory and allow yourself to experiment with organizational options. For example, some people find it helpful to color-code their directory, while others find colors distracting. You might organize your files by date, alphabetically or by type, depending on your specific needs and preferences. When you design an organizational system that's optimized for you, it can save time, reduce your stress and help you keep up with your electronic files.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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