Organizing Photos On Your Computer

Wouldn’t you like to easily organize your digital photos?

First, know your software and system.  There are plenty of tools to help you pull your photos off of your camera or phone and get them into your archives.  Your camera probably came with a software disk.  Windows comes with photo programs.  Apple is all over photos, for sure.

The most frustrating thing about software might be that downloading your photos can result in your photos having odd, computer assigned names.  Search your download program for an option or field that lets you assign a name to a batch of photos while you are downloading them. You might be able to download a batch of photos that you name “birthday 2011”, and each photo will start with that name and then end with the number in sequence.  If you don’t like your download program, and you can’t do named batch downloads, go and search for another one.

According to Wikihow, Download a free image organizer. Fast small ones include Xnview (open source) and Irfanview (popular). Picasa from Google is an easy-to-use photo management tool. However, read the fine print on the agreement you sign with Picasa/Google. It gives Google the rights to all of the photos you put on the site, for their unrestricted use.  I do use Picasa to organize and edit my photos, but I don’t upload them to the Google web albums. One of the coolest things I can do with Picasa is easily brighten photos that I thought were too dark to save.

This one might seem a little obvious, but take the time to create different folders, and avoid dumping all of your photos into the Microsoft “My Photos” folder.  This is essentially like throwing a handful of photos into a closet and shutting the door.  Sure, you could search for a particular file later, but why would you?  Instead, just name the folders by year, or you might have folders with more meaningful names, such as:

  • birthdays
  • Christmases
  • home
  • weddings
  • vacations

From there, you can subdivide your photos using a naming system.  It is immensely helpful to have a naming convention for your photos so that you’ll be able to find them again later. Your computer file system will want to arrange your files either alphabetically or numerically. I use the following naming convention for my family photo files, which keeps my files neat and allows me to find files quickly:

Format:            Year_Month_Kidname_Event/Holiday

Example:         2010_April_KittyCat_Easter

Figure out this naming system once, tape it to your computer, and use it every time you download your pictures.  Suddenly all of those fun photos will be worth a lot more because you can actually find them again.  Unless you are married to a pro photographer, knowing who took the picture probably won’t be important in 5 or 10 years, so all family members can save photos the same way, with the same file name format, and create a very useful family photo treasure trove.

You might also check out to help you size photos for different applications.

One last trick, and this one is great especially for the holidays, turn your paper photos into a digital archive without any fuss.  Contact Maxx or Monica at to get up to 1,000 photos scanned for just $100.  You can rename photos returned to you once they are on disk.  But the best part is that making copies of digital photos is so easy, and you no longer have to be the one person with all the family archives.

Oh, and did I mention to be sure to backup your computer to safeguard all those treasures???

I’m always looking for new tricks, so please share your favorite photo info here.  Happy snapping.