Back at it with naming documents

Now that we’re all stuck at home I’m trying to cross off some items that I haven’t been able to get to in a while.

One of my ongoing projects/issues is finding the best way to name medical and insurance documents our family receives. We have four family members and two kids. The complication comes in with the twins visiting the doctor. Often the doctor and insurance will add multiple dates to their documentation. Initially my naming convention was based on the date of the visit, type of form, then the family member name: yyyy-mm-dd Bill Pediatrician - James. Because they add multiple visits to the same document the visit data prefix is “broken”.

Has anyone else run into this and come up with a good solution, or just any other thoughts/suggestions are welcomed.

Thanks and hope everyone stays safe!

How is this organized by folders? Are the documents all in one root folder, or do you also create sub-folders?

For this case by example, I would be inclined to have a folder structure:


  • Well-Being
    — Family
    —— John
    ——— Medical
    ———— 2020.03.27 Doctor Visit
    ( all associated documents)

Alternatively and/or in addition, I would name the documents starting by their root meaning rather than by their date.

John DoctorVisit Report
John DoctorVisit Bill

I would do this because, when you are searching for the documents later, I can imagine you are more inclined to want to find documents associated with John as the primary search criteria before you want to find documents on a specific date.


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This might be a good use of the much-neglected Comments field for files. You could list all the relevant dates and or people in the comments field, making search by any of those dates possible in the future.


The folder structure is as follows:


  • 2019
    • Bill
    • Receipt
    • EOB
      • File

It’s actually more important to reference the date of the file for two reasons. 1) When I need to reference later for insurance or taxes 2) To know which year to place the file in. Often bills are not processed for a month or two so I will have some from a previous year that are sent/processed in the current year.

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I just use a single folder per tax year and have all pertinent keys as part of the file name. Then I rely on Finder/Spotlight ability to search using multiple keys.

If I had to mark bills for payment, I’d do so with a tag which I remove after the bill is paid. (I actually use a tag called “To Process” because just about everything I have gets auto-paid but I want to reconcile all statements)

When the YEAR is the starting point under Family, I would not split as Bills and Receipts and EOBs and so forth. I would instead lump by “Projects” with name+date folders below, as this


  • 2019
    – Doctor Visits
    — John 2019.03.14
    — Mary 2018.12.12 … carry over from last year
    – Dentist Visits
    – Picnics
    – Vacations
    – …


My understanding is that you’re getting one document or bill that has multiple visits. So if you create an alias of that file and continue with your naming convention, would that work?

What kind of tags are you using? Is it the tags in finder or something else?

Yes, the tags in Finder.

That is correct. I don’t follow your question, could you expand on it.

As for your other question, I use tags: Unpaid, Important, Unfilled (for taxes)

This would almost work however often there are many times I’ll get a bill/EOB/Receipt that will have multiple visits/dates on one document. So the naming convention would be (and what I’m currently struggling with) John 2019.03.14_2019.03.16 Mary 2019.03.16

The setup here is first by folder then by document:

Family (main folder)

2019 (sub-folder)
– Doctor Visits (sub-sub-folder)
— John 2019.03.14 (sub-sub-sub-folder where date is date of first visit)

Now the documents. The date is the date that is registered on the document or the date the document is received.

  • receipt 2019.03.14
  • bill 2019.03.16
  • payment 2019.03.18

In truth, I would stop putting dates in the file names themselves. The Finder information can tell created, modified, and last viewed dates. The document has its own date internally. The only date that would to me be important is the date of the visit that initiated the sequence of documents. That would go on the folder.

So, documents might be simplified as:

  • receipt - main
  • bill 1
  • payment 1
  • bill 2
  • payment 2

When you really want to track your life’s collections solely by document name, you do have to put all the details in the document name. When you can instead modify your approach to track your life’s actions by looking first INTO the specific folder for the project associated with the action and then picking a specific document that defines the action, then you can loosen the file naming convention.


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