How to Organize Digital Photos

Most of us have possibly hundreds of pictures stored on our devices.  Here are some tips on how to organize digital photos so that we can access them easily.

By Valerie Goettsch

Organizing images or finding a particular photo can seem a daunting task. Having a digital photo management system in place for archiving and cataloguing your images will make the process much simpler.

Besides devising a consistent method for cataloguing your images, using a photo organizer or album software program will make managing your digital collection a breeze. While everyone has their own organizing method, here are some guides based on what works for me.


Archive Originals

Right after downloading your photos, it’s a good idea to burn them to CD or DVD. This prevents you from accidentally overwriting an original image. You can always go back to your disk to retrieve it. To save space you can keep adding new images until the disk is full. Be sure to label the CD with the year and note the contents whenever you add new pictures.

Delete Unnecessary Photos

After you’ve archived the original images to disk, review your downloaded images and purge unwanted shots. Delete badly exposed images, duplicates, out-of-focus shots, etc. If some are a little over or under exposed you can generally adjust them with your photo software, so unless you have a better version of an image, you may want to keep some of the so-so shots and fix them.

Name Your Images

Create a new subfolder to My Pictures whenever you download new photos. Don’t just dump them all into My Pictures. There are several methods for naming and structuring your folders. I like to organize my folders chronologically and put all photos for a particular year into subfolders under that particular year. Other people like to group their pictures by topic, such as Vacations, School, Sports, Baby, Wedding, Family, etc.

When you download images, your software will prompt you for image names. Be sure to use relevant names, not the default “003784.jpg.” For instance, if I download a series of Halloween photos, during the download process I will have my photo manager software rename all the images using “Halloween 2007” in the name. Later you can rename individual photos if you wish. For example, by adding “Lisa_Linda” within the file name you can later do a search to find all images of Lisa and Linda. To make it easier to find certain photos, you can rename individual images within your folders or use the Batch Process feature to rename a group of photos.

Tag Images

To help you find photos of specific subjects, you can use your photo album software to tag images with keywords. They can have a variety of attributes such as date, place, occasion, and person. For instance, you could label a picture of your daughter Kathy at her 10th birthday party at the zoo using the keywords Kathy, 10, birthday, zoo and then be able to search for all images with these tags, no matter where they are on your hard drive. This is a huge timesaver in helping you find favorite pictures. Initially it can be quite time-consuming to tag photos, but most software will let you batch label a group of photos with the same keywords. This greatly speeds the process.

It’s also helpful to tag images that need editing like red eye reduction, cropping, color adjustments etc.

Protect Your Digital Photos and Projects

Can you imagine losing that cool slideshow you made of your child’s first birthday? Computer crashes can and will happen. Back up your photos! Burn them onto CD or DVD. It’s easy, inexpensive insurance. Most PCs and laptops come with CD burning software. Or, if you have an external storage drive, use it to back up your images.

Finally, don’t just let your precious picture sit on your computer. Print them, email them, frame them and enjoy them!

For more information on organizing your digital photo albums, visit

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