Notes - "Linking your thinking" or "Folders, Notes, and Files" Apps

Not counting aliases, of course. UNIX-alikes can even do two different kinds — symbolic and hard.

(Does Windows have both? Don’t use it often enough to know.)

Aliases are one way to go, but by the time you’ve messed around doing this in 2 (or more) folders, it would have been far quicker to tag.

For Windows, I’m not sure.

I had to go look to compare Documents has 162,000 documents in it. I don’t see how to get the number of documents off the server since there isn’t one overriding folder for my archive but about 900 of them at the top level. All I see is the total size which is just over 1 TB

Contents of the files go back to 1977 but the files themselves are more recent as I convert whenever I change into a new system or need to update the file formats.

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ls -R | wc -l at the top level in a Terminal window gives the number of files.


OK Stupid not very power user here with minimal terminal skills. I can’t even figure out how to cd to the server disk to run the command. I’m at my top user level but the server drive is not visible there.

cd /Volumes

Find the volume name, say it’s “Archive”. Then:
cd Archive
Then you can do the ls -R | wc -l

Thank you the /Volumes was what I didn’t know.

And the final count for everything, current and archive is 1,509,349 files!

I had no idea it was so many.

BTW, thanks for sending me down a rabbit hole to look. I was actually able to clean out a bunch of junk along the way and managed to procrastinate on a task I do not want to do for almost an hour a double win :wink:


I tried the terminal command and I discovered some things that I don’t understand. (not all that unusual for me)

I have a folder “Notes” that has 17 text files. When I run the command it shows 17 files. If I add an empty folder inside of “Notes” and run the command, it shows 20 files. Add another empty folder and it shows 23 files.

What is it supposed to count? Not that any of this matters much; I just want to understand. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

In Unix terms everything is a file, including folders, so that may be part of it,

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I would have thought the addition of one folder would increment the number of files by one instead of three. Maybe counting some hidden files? The only thing I know about Unix is how to spell it. :grinning:

The ls -R | wc -l commands basically cheat in counting the number of files.

ls -R lists all the file names, recursively down the directories. The list acts as the input to wc -l which counts the number of lines. However directories count as files, and every directory prints a blank line as well. So the numbers will be high. Since typically there are far more files than directories the error is small.

Probably a more precise technique is to locate regular files with find so symlinks, sockets and all other stuff would be ignored.

find . -type f | wc -l

Edit: oh the joys of the terminal shell.


@tomalmy Thanks for the explanation. I like to understand. I agree the errors are usually small.

@pantullis Guess what is below is similar to your example.

I bought a copy of Taking Care of The Mac Command Line with Terminal by Joe Kissel in hopes of learning about the sort of stuff.

In the past I’ve used this, but still got some wonkiness in the reported number of files:

To get the number of files in folders change the directory then run this command:

for dir in */ ; do echo “$dir: $(find “$dir” -type f | wc -l)”; done

I’m an engineer and not an accountant, so being close is good enough, especially if it simplifies matters!


@tomalmy - I am also a big fan of the plain old file system. I developed a fine-tuned taxonomy that works great for me, and I usually do not have much trouble swiftly finding a file I need. I use a few specialized databases for certain things. Zotero, for example, and the structure there uses my same file system hierarchy. (That way the files in Zotero are searchable directly from the file system and can be navigated like everything else in my file system.)

The only downside for me is that my archive is on a NAS, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get Spotlight to index it so things are findable. I use tags, too, but sparingly. I’ve found using some select tags, like my “Form” tag to categorize forms and templates across directories, to be a big help. I have hazel apply the tags I use automatically, so that minimizes the administrative effort involved in using them.

Here are my stats:
Documents = 122,526
Archive = 636,649

I use Apple Notes heavily, but not really as a replacement file system. Most of it is what I would categorize is quick reference materials and project support materials. I like the new linking feature and find it quite convenient within Notes and fun to use. I would find automatic backlinks or at least a back browser button helpful. But I don’t rely on linking. I find that Apple Notes’ tags work as well (and in some ways better) than linking does in terms of me being able to access related notes efficiently.

I agree with @Nick_tea–if I understood him right–that I don’t like anything that adds friction to my note taking / note organizing work flow.


Have you ever tried the free EasyFind (by the makers of DevonThink)? I don’t think it requires Spotlight Indexing.

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AFAIK you can’t. About 15 years ago I bought a “Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server” to use as my server. When it came time to replace it I did consider a NAS but decided that the extra cost of a new Mac mini would be worth it for having my server be a Mac with all the conveniences and features that gives. Before that MmwSLS I had an old “headless” Dell desktop I used as a server. Not so nice.

Apple Notes scares me for anything important. I’ve had notes vanish in the past, and since it uses a database you can’t readily see what’s there outside of the Notes app.


I have not heard of it but will check it out. i used to have LaunchBar index my NAS, but it kept causing crashes. My NAS itself has a good index, but I have to access it through the portal. I hardly ever use the portal, because I prefer mounting the drives and using them directly. So, time to check out EasyFind. Thank you.

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