How To Manage And Organize Free Printables
As a proud member of the planner community, I'm always looking for great free printables to add to my ever growing collection of planners. I'm not against paying for my planner accessories. I love supporting all the great crafters and designers out there, but the cost of planner accessories can add up very quickly. For planner lovers, accessories are viewed as investments; but for people who are new to the planner community, planner accessories are viewed as overpriced stationary. This is why free printables are so important. They really help to lower the barrier to entry for people who may be interested in keeping a planner.
There are a variety of free printables online. For this guide, I'll be specifically working with planner printables. The tips outlined in this guide apply to both free printables and printables that were purchased.
Getting Started With Free Printables
What Are Free Printables?
Free printables are documents that contain different types of accessories that you can print from your home or mobile printer. These accessories may include things such as stickers, covers, page inserts and journaling cards. Anything that can be printed qualifies as a printable.
Okay! I'm With You So Far, But How Do I Get Free Printables?
Planner printables are typically downloaded from blogs and websites. There are several great bloggers who publish both free and premium printables for your planner. A great place to find websites and bogs that specialize in planner accessories is Pinterest. The planner community is very active on Pinterest, and always willing to provide some great links and helpful resources. I have a Pinterest Board dedicated to some of the most awesome planner accessories and printables I find on the web. You can check out my Planner Accessories Board below, or by clicking here. I also have a selection of free printables over on the Downloads page on my personal website.
I Found Some Awesome Printables! How Do I Download And Use Them?
Printables are usually created in a PDF format or an image format. The most common image formats are: JPG, PNG and GIF. You don't need to understand the differences between all these different formats to use your printables. However, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of these formats.
Here's a quick outline:
- A PDF file is the most common file type for printables. PDFs have small file sizes and allow for high quality printing. A PDF file is the best option for a document that has multiple pages such as a calendar or weekly spread.
- A JPG file is a standard image file. This file type is most commonly found on the images you see on social media websites. Most cameras and phones take pictures in the JPG format. JPG files are easy to download and save because the format is universal and able to be opened by pretty much any device. JPG images work well for single page printables such as labels or journaling cards.
- A PNG file is a standard image file. It has many of the same attributes as the JPG file. The unique feature of a PNG file is that it allows transparency. Transparency usually doesn't matter when you're printing basic documents on white paper, but there are instances where you may need something to have transparency. For example, you may need to print a document on colored paper. Most printers skip over anything that is the color white in a document, but not all printers skip over the color white. It's important to note that most printers only skip over "pure white". Off white colors are still printed on to the page. So, if you have a document that contains an off white or egg shell colored background, that background will be printed. This can ruin your printed page and make it look untidy.
- A GIF is a standard image file similar to JPG and PNG files. GIFs are usually those moving images that look like short video clips. GIFs are very small files, and they don't work well for printed documents. GIFs are more appropriate for digital planners and memory keeping.
Printables can be created in a variety of other formats, but most other formats don't work very well as downloads. Other formats are very large in size and often need special software to be opened.
Managing Your Free Printables
Congratulations! You've chosen some great printables, now it's time to store and organize them. Why would you want to worry about storing and organizing all those free printables? Because, you're going to want to be able to print them again in the future. You shouldn't have to chase down a copy of a printable that you've already downloaded. Also, there are times when you might find that the original download has been taken off the website or moved to a new location. It's so awesome to have access to the printables you love most.
So, how do you get started?
- Start by choosing a location to store all of your printables. You'll want to select a location that is easy to access and find later. If you're anything like me, you probably have multiple devices. Managing your printables can be a pain if you're trying to move all of your files from one device to another. A simple solution is to use cloud storage. If you have a Dropbox, or any cloud storage account, just create the folder for your printables within your cloud storage account. Most services have apps that sync to all of your devices, so no matter where you save that printable, it'll show up on all of your devices. It's also great for keeping a backup of all your files; just in case your computer crashes or you get a new phone. Another good solution for storing your printables is to use a flash drive or an external hard drive. The advantages of using an external drive are that you're not taking up space on your computer or phone with large files. You'll still want to backup your printables occasionally so you don't lose anything if your drive fails or you lose it.
- Next, choose a naming system for your printables. When you first download a printable, it will most likely have a name that isn't really descriptive. Keep your printables organized by choosing a naming pattern that works best for the way you want to access your printables. Some people prefer to use the date they downloaded the file within the name. Others like to sort their printables by categories or types. How you choose to organize your printables really doesn't matter. What matters is choosing a system that you can stick to.
- Choose a folder structure for your printables. Having a long list of file names will make it difficult to find exactly what you're looking for once your printable collection gets larger. Having a few folders within your primary printables folder will save you loads of time in the future. Trust me. You might want to sort your printables into broad categories such as stickers, covers, dividers, worksheets, journaling cards etc. That way, when you're looking for a particular sticker sheet, you can go straight to the folder where you store your stickers. Again, the structure you choose doesn't matter. The point of this is just to make your life easier. If you can easily find what you're looking for and access it quickly, your folder structure works.
It really is that simple. Once you get your system in place, organizing and storing your printables is a breeze. You're saving money by printing your own accessories, and you're saving time by having everything neat and organized.
I hope you all found this guide helpful! If you have any questions, or if there's something you think I should have included in this post, let me know! I'm always happy to help!