10 Steps to Organizing Your Computer: Step 8: How To Organize Your Digital Photos
Step 1: System Cleanup
Step 2: Internet Connection
Step 3: Desktop Organization
Step 4: Organizing Computer Bookmarks
Step 5: Email Organization
Step 6: Computer Documents
Step 7: Delegating To Your iPhone
Step 8: Organizing Digital Photos – You’re here!
Step 9: Password Organization
Step 10: Maintenance
Well, here’s how I organize my digital photos…. I upload pictures from my camera to my computer, print what I want and DELETE the images. GASP – I know. Totally WEIRD! I don’t have ANY digital images of my family and all the “real” photos are scrapbooked.
Sooooo I am bringing in a expert to help you get your digital photos organized. 🙂
Carole is an avid digital scrapbook instructor in the Scrapbook Campus. She has been teaching scrapbooking using Paintshop Pro to hundreds of students, from beginners to advanced, for almost 10 years. Her knowledge of Paintshop Pro is extensive, and she is always available to help out. She also has a specialty in creating scripts for PSP users to help create elements and effects. Some of her products are even sold on the Corel site.
Thanks, Carole for guest posting!!
How to Organize your Digital Photos
With the development of technology, it has become easier and easier to take many pictures with our digital camera, our smart phone or our tablet. Long gone are the times when you had only a roll of 36 photos and had to be selective with what scene you were trying to capture. Now, you can click a dozen times to try to capture that perfect pose or take a hundred photos of every detail around a particular event. Each click takes less than a second, and you can quickly fill up a memory card with many photos. How many photos do you have so far? Hundreds? Thousands? How do you get all those photos organized? Let’s see how you can make sense of that “photo cacophony.”
Step 1: Get all your photos in ONE location.
Digital photos can live in many places and they often do. Do you have photos on your desktop? Your laptop? Your iPhone? Your tablet? Do you still have some photos on the memory card of your camera?
In order to make sense of all the photos you have, you need to put them all in one location, whether it is your laptop, your desktop or on an external disk. If you still have photos on your camera disk, transfer them now. Don’t wait.
Step 2: Sort and put in folders by year.
Right now, you might have a LOT of photos in one place. Depending on how you took the photos, they might already be tagged with a date. Did your camera capture the date in the exif (exchangeable image file format–the tag your camera or phone applies automatically to your photos much of the time)? If so, you can easily sort them by date, and simply copy and paste all the photos from a single year into a particular folder for that year.
If your camera didn’t record the date, then you will have to do it manually. Whatever device you used to take your photos, each of them was likely given a unique name made up of letters and numbers. The coding system varies from one device to the other, so if you gather all the photos from various devices, you likely will see different codes. Nevertheless, they are easy to order alpha-numerically, since they are not randomly named. So, a photo identified as SAM_0054 was taken after the SAM_0043 (and that is from my Samsung camera).
Once you have the photos “in order,” you should be able to select a group of photos from the same year and move them into a folder, clearly identified for that particular year.
If you have some scanned photos that are quite old and you only have a few, or they are so old that you can’t remember if they were taken in 1975 or 1974, you can just create a folder for all the photos taken in the 70’s. At least you won’t have a thousand in those folders, and they will still be sorted.
Step 2a: Optional – Sort month by month.
This is an optional step. If you have a lot of photos and if you can sort them by month (if your camera has identified them, it would be easy), you can create sub-folders inside the year folder, with the months. If you don’t have that many photos, you can skip this part. If you can’t easily identify the month (if there is no specific event you can identify in the photos), don’t worry; skip that step.
If you have SOME photos you can associate with the month, but not all, you can create those sub-folders and put the photos you can identify, and leave the others in the main year folder.
Note from Lisa – this is really helpful in your child’s first year of life or when you are documenting a project like building a house.
Step 3: Pick and choose. (Lisa’s favorite step!)
Although you probably want to keep all the photos you have, and that is a common feeling, you know that you probably have many duplicates, or many missed or just not-so-great photos. You CAN keep them, but you might as well place them in a sub-folder that you can call “Extras.” This will reduce the number of photos you will need to work with further, without deleting all the others. Of course, you can take this opportunity to completely discard photos that you consider as real misses, although even those photos could be used, creatively, in digital scrapbooking, so you never know.
By picking and choosing photos among the large pool you had to start with, you will be able to focus on the best ones, and save yourself some work further down the process.
Note from Lisa – This is the step we all skip. I promise you, you will be SO happy if you take the time to do this!!
Step 4: Rename your photos.
Now that you have sorted your photos in folders and sub-folders and picked the “good ones,” you can tackle them in smaller groups. Many photos were identified by a code given by the camera. Those filenames are totally unusable if you ever want to do a search. Renaming the files can be a great way to have your photos searchable, but it is a big task. It is up to you to determine if this is for you. If you find it is way too much, skip this part and read the next option.
Renaming a file is as easy as slowly double-clicking on its name and typing something else in place of that jumble of letters and numbers. Although it is not recommended to have a filename that is 250 characters long, you can still have it a good length. Use meaningful keywords for each photo. If it is a photo of your 2005 trip to Disney, and it has Suzy and Philip in it, you might want to rename this photo: “2005-Disney-Suzy-Philip-01”. Why do I use -01 at the end? Simply because there might be another photo of Suzy and Philip taken on that trip, and you can just use -02, -03 and so on.
Once you have renamed all the photos you have, you can either use the native search feature of your computer, or download the Super Finder XT, which is free (although it is just for Windows).
Note from Lisa – You can see how to rename a file here.
Step 4a: Alternate renaming method: Tagging
If you have too many photos to rename manually, you might want to use a tagging system instead. There are software like ACDSee that you can use, but there is a free alternative, which is Photo Gallery (for Windows users).
Using a system like Photo Gallery has the advantage that you can tag several photos at once, which is much faster than renaming them individually, so if you have a large number of photos, this would likely be a much more convenient option.
Instead of tagging images one at the time, you can select multiple photos that share one common feature, whether it is the “Disney” trip, the “2005” year, or “Suzy” or “Philip”. You can then add a tag for all those images at once. Repeat for another descriptive tag for other photos. You can obviously select the same photo more than once, therefore adding multiple tags for them
Tagging photos with a system like Photo Gallery allows you to also search using the same tags. This means that through all the thousands of photos, you can ask to find all the pictures from the Disney trip, in 2005, with Suzy on the photo, and it will show you all those images you had tagged accordingly, no matter if they were grouped together or not. This will allow you to gather various photos on a specific theme if you want to create a scrapbook page, or even a whole album around a theme or a person or an event.
Step 5: Backup your photos.
Now that you have done all that work, the last thing you want is to lose those photos. It is a great time to save all the photos, the good and the not-so-good if you want, on DVDs. Make one copy at least, but even a second copy if you can. Label them clearly and store them safely. You can give a copy to a trusted relative, place it in a safety deposit box, etc. This might seem like extreme measures, but remember that those photos cannot be recovered if you lose them, and computers and hard drives have a bad habit of failing. I have heard horror stories of people losing years of photos, memories and stories due to a computer failure. Don’t be the next victim!
If you experience a computer failure, you will have access to the backed-up copies even if you stored it on your desk, but if you live through a natural disaster or catastrophe, like a fire, a hurricane or a flood, any backup that is sitting close to your computer would be also affected, which is why it is prudent to keep a backup copy in a remote location. Save those irreplaceable memories. Luckily for you, digital photos are easy to backup and keep safer.
Note from Lisa: If you did Computer Organization Step One and installed Carbonite, your photos are already backed up. Also, just this weekend, I decided to start backing up my clients’ photos to external hard drives instead of CDs or DVDs. I have a feeling that technology is on its way out, too.
Step 6: Keep up!!
Organizing thousands of photos will definitely be a big task. Don’t expect to complete it in one sitting. Take it step by step, folder by folder. Once you have finished organizing all those photos, take a habit of sorting new photos on a regular basis. You might not have the time to do it every time you take new photos, but set yourself a time for it, whether it is once a week or once a month, depending on how many photos you take in that time period. And remember to back those photos up again later!
Step 7: Enjoy!
What will you do with those photos all nicely organized now? Will you create a scrapbook album? Just a photobook? The choice is yours, but you certainly will have more time to spend enjoying the process and less time searching for your photos!
🙂 Carole will be back NEXT week to help us with DIGITAL photo display options! Thanks again for your help, Carole!
Ok! Your challenge is to get started organizing those photos!!