Friday, July 4, 2014

Autophile: Automatically Sort Files into Folder by Name

I like to mark my student's reports electronically rather than mark paper copies. I type faster than I write and I can copy/paste verbose comments when students do similar things. The major drawback is getting the work back to the students; it's always a painstaking process to manipulate each file into an email or a folder. To reduce that grunt-work I wrote a program that will move files into folders with similar names. I call it Autophile.

The idea is to get your students to put their student ID in the file name so that the software can sort each student's work into their own folder on the network drive. Choose the files you want to sort, select the folders you want to sort them into, adjust settings, and click "Sort"

A confirmation window will pop up telling you where the program thinks each file should go. You can make adjustments or cancel the process. Clicking "Apply Sort" will move the files.

Confirmation Window
The program computes the best match between folder and file by computing something called the Damerau–Levenshtein distance. Basically, it's the number of letters you would have to substitute, remove, insert, or swap to make a portion of the file name look like the folder name.

I was having problems with very short folder names getting picked up as the best match so I modified the result a little bit to favor longer, less accurate matches over shorter accurate matches. I weighted the D-L distance at 100% and the match length at 90% when doing the comparison. For example, I wanted to favor a match that was 5 letters long with one letter wrong over a match that was 3 letters wrong with no errors.

You can download the program here or the source code here.


  1. I am a lawyer in Brazil , and that helped me a lot in the organization of my files , thank you

  2. it is a really great help for me...thank you

  3. Hello, i am a slow learner and usually tough for me to learn new software. Your software by far is the best and easiest to use, this was exactly what I was looking for. You saved me so much time and effort. Thanks a bunch!

  4. Wow... This is rather easy. Thank you for this, sir!

  5. Hello. Really good software. Are you open to taking this one step further ?

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  7. Hello, I recently found your program and decided to give it a try at my company, where it sorts up to 300 documents between a few thousand maps. I was wondering if there is any way to sort my files by their file name, since at the moment it seems to sort them randomly.

    1. Hi Hazmat,

      That's what the program is supposed to do. It's supposed to find the best fit between folder name and file name. I'd be interested to see what the Sort Report window tells you. However, I can't promise any help really, I've moved on from this project. The source code is available in the post if there's anyone at your company that wants to pick it up they are welcome to.

      Sorry I can't be more help,

  8. Hi David,

    This software is exactly what i need and it is simple too.

    I have one question, is it possible when already a file with the same name is in the folder, that the software automatically renames it into name (2), as Windows does when we copy it manually.