Keeping track of what's what with a simple step of date stamping your materials
by Mark Kaprielian

Click here to download the application referenced in this document

Often in the process of people collaborating or sharing documents or other files they will email them back and forth.  Sometimes people send out updated versions of a file such as a new company phone list at work.  Unfortunately many people do not consider the impact of not having a way to quickly and easily identify the version of what they are exchanging.

I recommend putting a "consistent" date or a date and time "stamp" on files that generally have multiple versions sent out or passed back and forth.  By doing this you can achieve some real benefits, such as :

There is a free utility that when you double click the time in your system tray at the bottom right of your screen, it copies the date time stamp into Windows copy buffer.  All you need to do then is to paste (control-V) the string into the name of the file.
            for example , when I double click I get in my buffer a date time string such as
Sometimes I paste it into the prefix of the file name and remove the leading _ by hand , sometimes as the suffix, and sometimes in either case remove the time portion and leave just the date portion.
The application is easy to install and I provide the formatting string below to set it up as show in the example.  I would bet that I use this app at least three times a day, minimum.
Even if you don't want to use the utility, I still recommend using the format of the date shown so that it will always sort correctly regardless of if it is used as a suffix or prefix.

Here are some recommendations on ways to identify files using a date.

When using a date as a suffix:
    The suffix for these files shall be of the form  “_yyyy-mm-dd”  where yyyy is the four digit year such as 2003, mm is a two digit date such as 05 for May and dd is the two digit day of the month as in 21 for the 21st of the month.
        Example:   _2003-07-16
It is recommended that no spaces appear in the name of a file.  Wherever you may normally desire a space, use the underscore "_" instead.   There are a couple of reasons for this, some of which may not generally matter but now and then it may.  One minor but useful reason is that the file name is less likely to be mis-typed if someone needs to type it.  Another reason is that if the file is converted to HTML and posted somewhere, it makes for a much better URL to not have spaces in it, else it could be problematic for users.  
        Example:   How_to_make_a_Million_2003-07-16.doc
If you desire to have the time distinguished with the date, the following format is suggested:
When using a date as a Prefix:
By using the recommended format and adapting it for use as a prefix, you ensure that your files will sort correctly.  The recommended format follows the same general guidelines with the leading underscore replaced by a trailing underscore:
        Examples:    2003-07-16_
Helpful Utility
There is a freeware program that works very nicely and reliably on most any version of Windows.  It is called
This replaces your system clock and lets you customize the appearance of the day and time there.  In addition, it provides a pop up calendar and more importantly, the ability to specify a date and time format to be put onto the clipboard, as if you had done a control-C.  You may then simply click on a file name in the Windows browser, wait till it goes into edit mode and then do a control - V or paste from the menu to put  the timestamp into the file name.
I recommend you set up  the following formats if you use the program  (copy and paste the examples) 
        On Clock tab,  System Tray clock format              dddd, d  h:mm  ss
        On Tool tip/copy tab,  Copy to clipboard format      _yyyy-MM-dd_ HH 'hrs'_mm'mins'