Tips to Organize Your Digital Photos – Digital Picture/Image Management

If you’re like me and the digital camera age has completely changed the way you take pictures – meaning you take pictures like its going out of style – then managing these pictures has probably become a problem for you… or, you just don’t worry about managing them. I like pictures, I like keeping them, and I like knowing that I’ll be able to find them if I need to. This article will hopefully give you some insight on how to organize your photo album(s) for easy management. Or you can continue on like many of my friends who just take pictures on the digital camera until their memory card is full, delete the pictures and start over – no printing, no downloading, nothing… what’s the point.

The first thing that I recommend doing is getting a good application for managing/organizing pictures. Here are a few that I recommend:

  1. Picasa by Google ( – This is my absolute favorite photo management tool. It runs smoothly, it’s got a great clean user interface, its got simple photo-retouching tools, and it supports video.
  2. Windows Photo Gallery (New in Windows Vista) – I’ve only used this a few times, but Microsoft is definitely onto something. I get the feeling that they’re taking ideas from Picasa, but that’s only because I’m an avid Picasa fan. Windows Photo Gallery gives you a good easy way to manage photos within windows without having to worry about extra software. The photo tags/labels idea is pretty cool too.
  3. Preclick Photo Organizer – What’s a list without at least 3 programs? Preclick seems to get a lot of good reviews, so I thought I’d add it to my list, though we all know that I’m not going to be switching from Picasa anytime soon.

Okay, so now we’ve got a list of programs that we can use to help us view/manage/organize our photos, but the best tool of all is built into your computers operating system – the file system. I use folders to manage and organize all of my photos, and I’ve found the following format to be very useful in helping to find any photos I’ve ever taken.

Each time I connect my camera to download photos, I create a new directory. I’ve read articles that say to give the directory a meaningful name, this makes perfect sense, but what happens when you have 300 folders with meaningful labels? We have Christmas every year, my wife has a birthday every year, so rather than just naming folders “Christmas 2005”, “Christmas 2006”, etc. I precede my descriptive meaningful name with the date the picture(s) were taken, i.e. “2005-12-25 – Christmas at the Folks”. This serves 3 purposes:

  1. I have the date the pictures were taken (makes them easy to find).
  2. I still have a unique, meaningful folder name (in case the date isn’t enough).
  3. All of my folders will be organized chronologically – this is very helpful when looking through years worth of photos.

I think this is the most integral part in photo organization, using the following method to name folders:

YYYY-MM-DD – Description of Photos

if your photos span a couple of days, or you went on a trip, use the following:

YYYY-MM-DD-DD – Description of Photos

Once you get your folder structure in place, the rest is easy. Just find a program that you like (Picasa) and set it up to monitor your “My Pictures” folder (or whatever directory you might keep all of your pictures in.

I hope this helps all the photo buffs out there, post links to the best pictures you’ve taken… I’d love to see them!

5 thoughts on “Tips to Organize Your Digital Photos – Digital Picture/Image Management”

  1. Hi Kay –

    I number each of my memory cards and keep a little notebook in my camera bag. i.e.
    #1 – baseball game
    #2 – Nelly’s birthday party

    Another thing I try to be very good about is downloading all the pictures from my memory cards as soon as I get home. I’ve had friends who have lost 100’s if not 1,000’s of pictures by leaving them all on 1 memory card and then losing that card. Not fun.

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