Tuesday, 8 December 2015

How do Mendeley Folders really work?

How do the Mendeley Folders actually work and how can we get the maximum benefit from them?

I have discussed before on how to combine the use of tags [1, 2] and folders to get the maximum benefit of organization from your Mendeley Library.

However, though the word 'folder' seams very familiar to us, the Mendeley folders actually have their own dynamics and can be used in a much more efficient way than usual folders on a hard drive.

Lets explain Mendeley folders is by pointing out how they function:

  1. Drag&Drop an article entry to a folder to add that article to that folder. This will not create a copy of the article whatsoever. This will just say to Mendeley that "this article also belongs to this folder", just like a tag. You can have an article in so many folders as desired and there will exist only a copy of that article in your Mendeley library. Deleting the document from the library will remove it from the folders as well.
  2. You can create as many subfolders as you wish (though I never challenged infinity :-P). Just right-click on a folder and 'New Folder'.
  3. Selecting an entry in a folder will highlight all the folders that contain that entry. No mysteries here.. just try it out.
  4. (now the dynamics...)
  5. Adding an article to a subfolder will make it be displayed in every parent folder. This is very useful because you can get an overview of everything you have in the subfolders by just clicking on the main folder. Parent folders display mirror imagens of the items in the subfolders.
  6. Removing any mirror of an item from a folders in the folder hierarchical tree will remove it from the whole tree. Because the article being displayed in the parent folders is a mirror of the real article you have added.
  7. If the article is added separately to the all the folders in the folder tree then it will only be removed from the selected folder and its child subfolders, not affecting the parent folders. Entries are displayed in the parent folders as mirrors unless they are specifically added to that folder and thus become part of that specific folder.
  8. (summarizing...)
  9. Entries added to a folder belong to that folder.
  10. Entries added to a folder will be displayed as mirrors in its parent folders.
  11. Removing a mirror from a folder will remove all the mirrored entries.
  12. Removing an item from a folder will affect all the subfolders where the item was added.
  13. Items in parent folder are not affected unless they are mirrors.
  14. In conclusion...  Removing an entry from a folder will affect everything that is bellow and will only affect parent folders if the entry in the parent folder is a mirror of the entry in the subfolder.
  15. At last... removing a folder will remove it along with all the subfolders but without removing the articles within from the Mendeley Library.
  16. Sounds confusing? maybe... try it out for yourself! Mendeley does not have a hierarchical tag system, but folders can nicely be used hierarchically.
This functionality is quite useful to help us compartmentalizing our needs. Note that folders won't substitute tags in a functional way; both have to be used and only tags will allow you to expand your library without loosing functionality. Nevertheless, with folders you can have the papers related to a project or task organized and readily available.

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