The file manager remains the bedrock application of the personal computer. Every day over a billion people use Windows Explorer or Apple’s Finder to manage their digital content. And yet the file manager is an anachronism. In an age defined by cloud, mobile, and tablet computing, the file manager is a clunky remnant of simpler times, a quaint reminder that all of our most important digital content used to dwell contentedly in the local filesystem on our personal computers.
Today, the files, photos, documents, and videos we care about are strewn across the consumer Internet. To sync our files we use Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, and SkyDrive. For photo storage and sharing we turn to Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and iCloud. For more productive pursuits, we increasingly rely on Evernote, Google Docs, and, assuming Microsoft’s plans come to fruition, the Office Web Apps. YouTube and Vimeo host our videos.
Amidst all of this diversity, the file manager, the wizened veteran of the personal computing revolution, gazes slackjawed from the sidelines, unable to comprehend – let alone to “manage” – this bafflingly complex universe of digital content. Whenever it has sought to get back in the game – iCloud and SkyDrive being the prime examples – it has kept its ambitions strictly in check, reluctant to venture beyond the universe of possibility already thoroughly explored by the file-sync leaders. And for their part, these leaders have done an extraordinary job making files accessible on the go from an increasing number of devices, but they’ve inadvertently contributed to the service creep that leaves many of us scratching our heads every time we want to find or share a given file we know is stored somewhere.
At Collections, we still believe in the file manager’s original mandate. We still believe that a computer user should have a robust native application that provides easy access to all of their most important digital content and makes managing this content efficient, intuitive, and enjoyable. We still believe that people like to feel in control of their digital possessions. To this end, early in the summer before we entered Y Combinator, we asked ourselves a very simple question: What would the Finder look like if it were invented in 2012, rather than in 1983?
After months of concerted focus, we believe we’ve found the answer. Collections is a native Mac app that centralizes access to your digital content (and restores to you, the end user, control over that content). With the speed and reliability that only native technology can deliver, it provides a one-stop solution for browsing and sharing all of the photos you have on Instagram and Facebook, the files you store in services like Google Drive and Dropbox, the videos you’ve uploaded to or liked on YouTube, and even the thousands of email attachments you have buried deep in the recesses of one or more Gmail accounts.
With Collections, all of your heretofore scattered digital content is instantly within reach and ready to be organized, backed up, and shared. Why? Because technology at its best should reduce complexity and fade into the background, not commandeer your every waking hour.
If you’d like to learn more about Collections or participate in our private beta, sign up here.
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Jordan Lee (@jordanglee)