Are you one of those people who empties your digital camera into your computer every once in a while and now, years later, you have thousands of mixed up pictures and cannot find a good picture to use when you need one? Taking pictures is now so free and easy that we have too much of a good thing. However, organization is possible if you start at the “macro” level and move systematically downstream.
The first layer of organization will be the largest categories such as years or very broad topics. Make a folder for each year on your desktop. Then sort pictures by years into these folders. You can usually tell what date a picture was taken in the information screen in your photo program or the preview screen on your desktop. You can select large sections of pictures at a time with the shift key and drag them into the correct folders.
Next each folder will need to be subdivided into months or events in the year. When naming these folders, beginning with numbers 01 – 12 will cause the months to be in time order instead of alphabetical order for easy access. Preview the pictures and drag them into the correct folder.
Finally, within each month or event folder, make folders named “best” and “extras” (putting a space in front will cause the folder to be placed first for easy access). Drag the best pictures into the best folder and put all the many extra shots that are not as good into the extras folder. If you have five of the same shot, consider keeping only the best two. You can back up all these originals onto external media of some kind and take them off your computer.
Drag only the “best” in each group into a photo program by months or categories, being sure to include the year in the album or folder’s name. Edit the pictures and when you are finished editing, place an asterisk after the folder or album name to signify that it is done. Now you will have an organization that will allow you to find and use only the best of your pictures without looking through thousands of marginal pictures.
To stay current on picture organization, especially if you have children, grandchildren or otherwise take lots of pictures, consider downloading all your pictures from all your devices (i.e. phone, camera, or video) into one folder at the end of each month and naming the folder with the date of download. At some convenient time you can sort out the movies from the pictures, the best from the extras, and file/back up appropriately. After this sorting process, put only the best pictures into an album in iPhoto or another photo program to edit and use further.
It is possible to organize your pictures into usable groups if you will commit to completing one folder a day until the task is done. Keeping a back up of your edited and organized pictures is imperative.