Two experiments aimed to explore the general usability of filenames that were either chosen for personal use or designed for another user, within a document-filing scenario. Both experiments revealed a strong benefit for using self-chosen names over using names that were chosen by another for their personal use. However, both experiments also showed that participants could to some extent adapt their chosen names for use by a wider population. In experiment one, users could recall these ‘designed’ names more accurately than names that had been chosen for personal use by another (although this difference was not evident in a recognition test). Experiment two supported this effect; names designed for general use were more accurately recalled by another than the names designed for self-use after two sessions of use. Names designed for general use employed higher frequency words than did the self-chosen names, which supports the view that the benefit for self-chosen names partly lies in their exploitation of idiosyncratic associations.