Reader Request: How to organize your digital photos

Reader Mary wrote in:

I was wondering if you could do a post on organizing your computer, in particular in organizing your photos.

I have a Mac and try to live as minimalist as I can when it comes to my computer (though I seem to fail a bit at it), and my biggest issue is that I just have way too many photos, and I don’t know how to tackle them.

I basically have them in a folder called “To Be ¬†Organized” (I’m not sure how I feel about iPhoto yet).

A bit about my computer setup

I have a Mac, a PC and a Netbook, and I tend to use my PC the most.

I keep the Mac by my bed.

I use the PC on a kitchen table.

The Mac is more for surfing and doing minor things bedside so I don’t have to move my PC from the kitchen table to the bed and set it back up again.

Using Software: The Very Organized, Methodical Way

This is certainly the best method of all, if you really care about your photos — using a piece of software to organize it all.

I am too lazy to use this, but I’ll give it a brief overview.

On a Mac, iPhoto is great: you can tag, categorize and do all of these awesome things to sort out your photos.

I used it, and was very pleased with the results, especially being able to pull up albums and quickly do a slideshow for when friends and family pestered me for photos.

(Now I just email them the Facebook link.)

But it’s extremely time consuming, and difficult to keep up on it unless you have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)?

On the PC, you can just go through and painstakingly rename all of your files and sort them into folders, and even tag them in the File Properties.

Again, very time consuming and not my cup of tea.

Using Folders to your advantage: Lazy but Semi-Organized

It’s not VERY lazy actually.

Very lazy would be just throwing photos into a big folder and calling it “Photos”.

This has a bit of structure to it, but is flexible enough that I don’t have to really fuss with it.

I subscribe to the 3-level methodology:

No set of folder structure should be deeper than 3 levels once you are in it.

1. Set up your major categories

On the PC, I have a set of folders labeled something along the lines of this:

  1. Family_Friends
  2. Trips
  3. Food — this is an odd choice, but I do take pictures of food we make & eat

EM_Organize_Folders_Images

I name these folders with a number (1., 2., 3.) in front, so that it sorts in the exact order I want.

If I didn’t, they’d sort alphabetically and not be any logical order that I’d want:

EM_Organize_Folders_Images_NoSort

It may not sound like such a big deal, but it helps keep your most important & used folders at the top, and the rest at the bottom.

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