General discussion

8/6/05 Simple solutions for organizing your digital photos

Thank you for all the submissions this week. I encourage all of you who have more recommendations or questions on this topic to post below in this thread. This way we can all learn the best way we can get our digital photos nice and organized.

Thanks again everyone!
-Lee Koo
CNET Community


Hi, CNETers! I hope you can help me out. I've been saving
digital photos on my XP system for about three years. Now they
are scattered throughout my hard drive, and I can never find
one when I want to (I'll admit, I'm unorganized). I'm open to
any solution or tips (with or without the help of a good
software utility) that will help me organize my pictures. I
need something simple so that my mother can click through them
when she visits. Thanks.

--Submitted by: Dusty K. of Baltimore, Maryland

(Answers by members are found in the thread below.)

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Your answer was a great help to me as well.
I was having that same problem.
thanks Mark.


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pix organizer

Thanks for the advice Mark.

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Honorable mentions

That would depend on what format you used to save you photos. (aka .jpg; .bmp; .gif, etc.) I you remember the format:

1. Create a folder where you want your photos to be stored.

2. Click START then click on SEARCH.


4. If your photos are, for example, .jpg format, enter *.jpg in "All or part of the file name.

5. Select View on the toolbar and click on THUMBNAIL.

6. Click on Search.

7. All of the photos in .jpg will come up in a thumbnail view.

8. Select your photos, go to the toolbar and click on EDIT.

9. Select COPY TO FOLDER, locate and select the folder you want your photos stored in and click on COPY. (if you have MOVE TO FOLDER in you edit toolbar, click on MOVE.)

10. Use this method for all of the different photo formats you might have saved on your computer, and you will then have all of your photos in one location. Thereafter, save all of your future photos in this folder.

This worked great for me and it should for you. Have fun.

Submitted by: Forrest M.



Hey Dusty, good question. Lucky for you, Windows XP has a built-in search function that includes many filtering options that are perfect for your situation.
First, make sure you are in an administrator account on your pc, and then run search, either by Start-Search, or just clicking search at the top of any explorer window (any folder). Then, click pictures, music and video and check mark Pictures and Photos. Now, there are several options. Is there something in each filename of your pictures, such as Kodak or "camera1". If so, enter that into the search bar. Otherwise, just enter a "*" (without quotes). You can also filter your results by size. If the pictures are high res or in a lossless format (bmp), then you might want to filter out all the small pictures that could be just icons and the like. I'd recommend filtering using the custom at least button and setting it at 100kb. Check the "search subfolders" and "search hidden files and folders" boxes. Now press search.
Now, look at the results. If you notice a lot of pictures that aren't what you wanted, refine the search to filter them out. If you think some pictures you want aren't shown, widen the search parameters. Now you can manually comb through them and cut and paste into a single folder.
(Note, you might have to do this for other user accounts if they are other administrators or they made their files private.)
There is also a free utility that is extremely useful that could be used in this situation. It is simply called Scanner, and it does just that, it scans your hard drive and shows a pie chart of how the space is being used. You can visually scan and look for large folders that could contain picture files. This is much more difficult if the files are really scattered however. It does help you keep organised. It can be found here .
That is all. There are third party search utilities, namely, Google Desktop, however, the windows version works great in most cases.
Good luck,
Submitted by: Nathan S.



Dusty, You mentioned you are on a XP based system but I am sure others may be in the same shoes you are with and using a different OS. My tips will cover XP, ME and 98. The first thing you ought to think about is your hard drive space. Is it getting more than 80% full? The reason I start off with this is if your hard drive is more than 80% full it is difficult for it to function and look for anything on there. If not your doing OK. If you are getting full I recommend investing in a second hard drive for file storage. I use an external drive that allows me to take it with me. I have partitioned this drive to several drive sizes making a large drive to several smaller ones. The smaller the drive the faster it can search.

If you do not want to go that route then a great FREE solution is use your My Pictures folder found in your My Documents folder. If your using an operating system other than Windows XP or ME you would have to add this folder. If using XP or ME it should be there already and you can enable thumbnail view on these folders for easy navigation to see what's there. Filmstrip view is available here as well to allow for larger viewing of your pictures. To enable different views on these folders <click View, then on the different view option that you want. If you are using Windows 98 you can enable thumbnail view by following this link as provided by Microsoft.

To get organized with your pictures or any files for that matter try this:
1) Start with getting a main folder to start with, that's why I mentioned the My Pictures folder, it gives you a common starting point.
2) Search your hard drive by using the search feature in Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer) for picture files. What to look for will depend on what file type you have saved your pictures as. The most common file types are .jpg, .gif, and .bmp. In the search bar enter " *.jpg " or " *.gif ". This will find all files on your computer of that file type you have searched for and will display them on the right side of the window.
3) At this point, type Ctrl+A, this will select all files, then type Ctrl+X, this will cut all of these files (this will cause the selected files to have a lightened icon, this is normal and tells you they are on the clipboard).
4) Now navigate to your main folder you are going to place all these files, i.e. My Pictures.
5) Now type Ctrl+V, this will paste all files into this folder. Depending on how many files you have will depend on the time this may take.
6) Now you need to decide based on the pictures content, into folders. I name mine by the event happening and the month and year they occurred. Example, Christmas 2003, or Disney Trip 8-04. I also have a folder called Assorted, for pictures that do not warrant a separate folder. Naming your folders allow for easy viewing of the pictures that your interested in. In each of the folders you will need to apply the same view settings, Thumbnail or Filmstrip. This can be done all at once by clicking on the main folder and setting how you want them all to look, then click on Tools, then on Folder Options. Next click on the View tab and the button that says " Apply to All Folders", then OK. All folders should now look and feel the same. Make sure that when you transfer new pictures to your hard drive place them in a folder in your main Pictures folder. Using XP's transfer wizard is a great tool to help with the organization all of your future pictures.

You asked about a software solution to help with your organization as well. I have personally used Google's Picasa 2.0 and Microsoft's Picture It!. Both are good programs and can automate a lot of what I have listed above and more. Microsoft also offers a very interesting looking program called Digital Imaging 2006 in a Standard and Suite versions. Click here to get an overview of the different features that both offer.

If your wanting to take your photos online there is a large variety of sites that offer Free and fee based online photo libraries. Check out, they offer unlimited photo storage and even allow visitors to your site to order prints of your pictures to have professionally printed and mailed to them.

I hope that this has helped you to get organized with your pictures and beyond.

Submitted by: David S. of Phoenix, AZ




O.K., so you want to collect all your digital photo files which are scattered all over your hard disk and place them in one accessible location for easy viewing.

First of all, prepare a place for them. I made a directory (folder) on my G; partition called just PIX. You may only have a single partition, so make it where ever you wish. If you want, you could also make subdirectories (sub folders) for organization purposes, but for now, a single directory (folder) will do. To make life easy for now, make a shortcut down in the lower right hand corner of the desktop that points to the C:\PIX directory or wherever you made the PIX directory.

Now, Search for the files. Depending upon your digital photo files, search for the file types they are saved in. The most common will be JPEG format, having a file extension of .JPG, Execute the Windows Find/Search function (hold the Windows key down and tap the F key). For the object to search for, type in "*.JPG" (without the quotes) and tell it to search. (Note that if you are mainly interested in images downloaded from your camera, and you have not renamed them, they might have a common file name, such as ATTX.......JPG You might want to search for ATTX*.JPG.)

Chances are you will have many files listed, go to VIEW and ask it to list the files in Details form. Click on Folder at the top and it will display the files in order of the directory (folder) they are in. This helps you skip over the picture files that are in clipart files, or other locations that are not the images you want to collect.

Select the files. Now you are ready to start moving files, but first you will have to select which files you want to collect. You will need to highlight/select a number of files, skipping over unwanted ones. I would suggest doing a directory (folder) or two at a time, rather than going through the entire listing.

Move selected files. Adjust the size of the listing of found files so you can see the PIX icon in the lower right hand corner of the desktop. Now place the cursor over one of the highlighted files and right click and hold. Drag down to the PIX shortcut icon and release. You will be asked what you want to do with the selected files, so chose Move. These files will be moved from their current location to the PIX directory (folder).

Keep selecting and moving files until you have worked your way through the list. Note that when you come to files that are in the PIX directory (folder), skip over these, as they are the ones you have just moved!

Viewing the files. Now you are ready to view your collected files. I highly recommend the program named IRFANVIEW, which is available at:

In my opinion, this is the best graphics viewers available. Download and install this program and choose the common graphic formats to associate IrfanView with as you install it. Be sure to download both the main program as well as the plugins.

Execute IrfanView and select the PIX directory (folder) select one file and it will display it on the screen, At the top of the page there are left pointing and right pointing arrows. You can use these to step through the files one at a time, going up or down. Should the picture be larger than the screen, double click the picture and it will adjust to the size of the screen. You can left click or right click the mouse to proceed up the list of files or down the list.

Space does not permit a detailed discussion of the configuration parameters, so I will hopefully have whetted your appetite. You will be amazed at the speed, power , and versatility of IrfanView.

How would you like to have the computer show you all the pictures, one at a time, at your desired speed, while you just sit and enjoy? Click on the slideshow icon (the picture at the top tools icons). Up at the top right, change the directory to look in to PIX, set up to time interval to 1 second or 10 (whatever you want). Now toward the left click on ADD ALL then PLAY, and away you go.

Note that when you are in single picture at a time mode, pressing T will cause thumbnails to be displayed of all files. While you are viewing a specific file, you can delete it, rename it, or rotate it. You can copy or move it at will. Search around and learn the details of this program.

Remember I earlier stated that you will likely wish to organize the photo files by making new subdirectories (subfolders) with appropriate titles and move the files into the appropriate bins. I do think this is a necessity when you have lots of files. You could make your subdirectories before you move the files, and just classify the photos as you move them, or you could do this as a separate step.

Submitted by: Carl T.



Hi Dusty,

You've described the predicament that virtually all digital photographers run into over time. One I face with nearly 12000 photos on 3 different computers.

Here is what I did to keep myself organized and to cope with the clutter.

1. I put All of my pictures into the My Pictures folder in my documents. That at least serves as a starting point for me when I am searching for them.

2 then I subcategorize them by interest group:
Vacation (folders for each)

I did this from the beginning and it has helped a great deal.

The other suggestion I would give is to download Picasa from Google. It is free and super quick and if you let it spend a few minutes at the beginning it will find all of the pictures and images you have on your hard drive. I was surprised that it even finds Bitmaps and GIF files. Then it displays them in thumbnails that you can search thru and organize visually.

There are so many ways of organizing images, but Picasa does a great job of doing it visually. Then if you want to crop or change the look of the image Picasa gives a great deal of editing tools as well.

Have fun getting those pictures organized!

Submitted by: Ashok G. of Toronto, Canada



You can use Windows XP's Search feature to find just picture files on your hard drive, and then move them all to one folder. Go to the Start menu and select "Search". You'll be prompted for what type of files you wish to search for; click "Pictures, music, or video". Once you've done that, keep only "Pictures and Photos" checked under the "Which type of file?" question. Use the advanced search options and under the "More advanced options" section, uncheck all of the options except for "Search subfolders".

You'll probably want to leave the "When was it modified?" and "What size is it?" options as "Don't remember". Next, select "Local Hard Drives" under "Look in".

Your final step is to specify "All or part of the file name". Many cameras use a consistent naming system; if your camera names all images starting with "IMG_" or "DSC", type that in.

If you've renamed some of your images (e.g. from "IMG_0192" to "boats"), then just type in ".jpg" into that field. You're ready to begin your search now; just hit the Search button, and a list of all the picture files which meet your search criteria will be displayed.
Depending on how many picture files you have on your computer, the search process may take a few seconds to several minutes.

Most of the photos displayed in your search results should be the digital photos that you took. Select only those photos (CTRL+A, then deselect the photos that you don't want by holding down the CTRL key and clicking individual thumbnails). You should "cut" this selection
(CTRL+X) and then paste them into a new folder (CTRL+V).

Now that all of your digital pictures have been moved to one place, they should be easy to find and browse through. If you have thousands of pictures and wish to organize them further, you can use a free program like Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition or Picasa to "tag"
photos so that you can browse through photos of a certain category which you specify.

Good luck with organizing! In the future, stick with an organization system so that you'll always be able to find your pictures easily.

Submitted by: Jason H.e of Champaign, Illinois, United States



Hello Dusty,
The first thing I would do for your mom, is to drag a shortcut to your desktop for the "My Pictures" folder. This would make it very easy for her to find you pictures if your not around to help her. The second thing that I like to do is, once you have the "My Pictures' folder open, go to View on the tool bar, and choose "Thumb Nails". Depending on the size of your icons, and the quality of your mom's eyesight, she could browse thru the pictures that way, and decide which ones she wants to look at. If you don't have all your pictures in the same place, you can always do a search for them. In XP go to Start, Search, and then choose pictures, music, or video. Here you can choose just pictures. If you don't put a file name in, this will give you every image type on your computer. The resulting list will be quite large, and a daunting task ahead if you're going to sort thru them. If you know what format most of your pictures are in, you can just type *.jpg, *.gif, or *.bmp, in the file name box. This will find pictures that are only of that particular format, and make it much easier to wade thru the files. Once you have done this you can go to your "My Pictures folder and create sub folders to store them in, assuming that you want to organize them for your Mom. Then all you have to do is drag them into the new folders. Again, in these new folders you will want to go to the tool bar and set up thumb nail view for her.
I hope this has been helpful.

Submitted by: Dennis S.



ey Dusty,
Finding scattered images on your pc is actually easier than you think, no matter the scatter, no matter the hard drive. You dont need any additional software since XP is designed for the new wave of multimedia literate pc users.

First find out what format your pictures are saved as. It's probably .jpg or .jpeg. All you need to do is go to "My Computer", Click "Search", select "All Files and Folders". You get a small form to fill out. Just put .jpg (or whatever) in the "All or Part of a File Name" field, and select your hard drive, then click search and your computer does all the work, scanning for any images. You may pick up the odd clipart image along the way, but you will know they're not holiday snaps when you see them!

Make sure to go to "View" and select "Thumbnails" when you have your results, that way you get to preview all the pics on one screen, with no extra software needed. Bravo XP!

Hope this helps,
Cheers, Scott.

Submitted by: Scott F.



A simple way to organize your pictures so that your mother can click and view them.

You have to make your computer show the file extensions that you will be looking for. Open "My Computer" from the desktop, Lclick "view" in win9x or "tools" in XP moving the arrow over "files or folders" and drag the arrow down to "folder options" then Lclick and choose the "view tab."

In the view tab you will see the advanced settings. The entry "Do not show hidden files and folders" or "Do not show hidden or system files"
should BE ticked.
"Hide extensions for known file types" should NOT be ticked Close these windows.

Now to find them

1 Find the pictures: L click on START, move the arrow to over the "find"
or "search" word.

2.In the search window enter in the space to name the file, type *.jpg I assume that most of your pictures will have this extension.

3.Expand the results window by placing the curser over the Left side and dragging to the far left and the right side the same extent to the right.

4 Examine the results, there will be several hundred including the ones you will have to select. Lclick on the "(date)modified" column.

5 You will either have the latest or oldest date at the top. By using the drag bar on the right side you can see where the files are located.

6 Many .jpg files will be found in the C:\Windows\Temporary Internet folder, these will not be yours so ignore them.

7 Most likely your pictures will be in "My Documents" or My pictures. If you use a program supplied by your camera maker some pictures will be in the C:\Program files\"canon-kodak or whatever.

8 In the search window you can Lclick on the folder column to put the list in alphabetical order, this might be better than the date order.
Do NOT close the search window.

9 Somewhere to keep your found files. Place the arrow in a blank part of the desktop screen Rclick and select new then folder.
Now on the desktop go slowly and one Lclick on the new folder icon, once done do one more Rclick on the name"newfolder"
Then type Digital Photos.note the space between digital and space.
Your folder should now be named Digital Photos with Photos appearing under the Digital.

10 Moving your chosen files to the Digital Photos folder.
Back to the search results folder. Make sure you can see the Digital Photos folder on the desktop as well as the search results. If not
Lclick the "show desktop" button (to the right of START) drag the Digital Photos icon to below the extent of the search results window.
Lclick on the search icon in the task bar (the one with the magnifying glass)

11 Now you can start getting your photos into one folder. You can drag
and drop individual files or copy and paste into the Digital

12 You can select several files to move at one time. If they are touching then select one end file and while pressing the shifr key select the other end of the group. One Rclick held and dragged to the Digital Photos folder will move the group. Lclick on the selected group will give you the choice to copy or cut the files. Then Rclick the Icon Digital Photos and you will select the paste command.

To select files which are not togerher hold down the Ctrl key while selecting photos with the Lclick

13 Organize the files in Digital Photos Open the folder Digital Photos Lclick on views, Lclick on Details. You may have to expand the window or Rclick on the column headings to see them all. You need to see the date modified column.
Rclick on it to arrange the files in date order. From your question I would expect to see at least three years indicated.

14 Make three new folders within the Digital Photos folder. Lclick on the file menu and select new folder, name it 2005.
Repeat for as many Year folders you need.

15 Move your photos into their respective years. Drag and drop either groups or singly.

16 When your mother visits she can Lclick on your desktop icon of Digital Photos and Lclick on the year of choice to view the photos by double clicking on the first one chosen.

17 Once a viewing window is open the next photo can be dragged from the Digital photo folder to the viewing window

18 In Win ME and XP the folders can show thumbnails from the view menu.

Submitted by: Bernard S.



I had the same problem except it was my wife and not my mother.
This is what I did...and now even my mother-in-law loves me.
First I created a new folder on my desktop and named it 'all pix'.
Then I did a search on my computer....(start>search)..for all image files...(.img,jpg,bmp, ec..) and then copied and pasted them to the new folder. I didnt delete any that I found in the search in case I did something wrong....this let me keep the originals...for now.
After copying them to the new folder, I went to
and downloaded their free irfanview program.
I love their program because you can open a folder and it thumbnails every picture you have in your folder. Then I opened the 'all pix' folder in irfanview....and went through all of them and deleted the ones I didnt want. can select all the pictures you have left in the folder...and resized them all to 4x6. I was shocked to see how much hardrive space I was able to gain. I had 6000 pictures at around a meg each...and after resizing them to 4x6...I gained back around gig of hd.
Then after running the batch for resizing....I copied alll the resized to another folder I named 'resized pix'....and deleted the original 'all pix' folder...(make sure you empty your recycle bin after that).
Now....if want to look for a picture...I open the folder...and they all pop up in thumbnail format. With can then run a slide show...or select any number of pictures to save to a specific folder...etc etc....
(presuming you use irfanview as your default viewer)
or just view them.
This may take a bit of time to do...but once you get used to is wonderful.
You can zip a folder for emailing....resize....rename all the,0002,0003...or name them by date.....etc..
Try it... you WILL like it...
hope this helps..

Submitted by: Rick O.
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Photo organizing utilities recommendations other than Picasa

Other utilities


I'm sure that everybody has their own favorite program for keeping track of their photos. They all basically do the same thing. Picking one out is just finding one that you feel comfortable with. Several years ago I searched the internet for photo album software. There was some free ones and some that didn't cost much. I installed several but soon decided on a commercial one, Jasc's Paint Shop Photo Album. At the current time this package costs $49. Since most photo albums do about the same thing, picking this one come down to how comfortable I felt while using it. Its hard to say how simple this program is as I have been using it for so long it seems simple to me. All I can say is that I would recommend this program to anybody that needs a photo album

I have listed some points you should look for in a photo album software package.

1. Search your hard drive for existing photos. This is the one feature I didn't need nor used. I already had all of my photos in one area on the same partition. But the Jasc Paint Shop Photo Album does allow you to search your computer for pictures and then gives you the option to copy or move them to another location. Thus, with this featrue you can organize your photos.
2. Assign key words to a photo. This is one of the most important features of a photo album. With this feature, you can assign one or more keywords to a photo. Then you can display all photos with this keyword. A good photo album will also let you use multi-keywords when displaying photos. A good example of this is we have seen some bears in the wild on some of our trips. I have assigned the keywords Bear & Animal to these pictures. When friends want to see these pictures I just search on the keyword Bear. I break down my pictures in fine keyword detail like Water, River, Lake, Falls, Sunsets, Flowers, etc.. The one thing to remember is that by using keywords the pictures can be anywhere on your computer.
3. Image editing. Most of my image editing is done in another package but sometimes I use the Quick Fix feature. I found that on some pictures, the Quick Fix feature could do as well if not better then a more expensive image editor. A Photo Album should have some basic image editing like Red Eye Removal. The amount of image editing it can do can be less if you already have a good image editor. If the image editing is good, that means you don't have to go to the trouble of opening up the photo in another program.
4. Backup. This is a feature that allows you to backup your photos. In my case, all of my photos are on the computer and I have no hard prints. Also, since all of my still cameras are now digital it is really important to have a backup. Maybe I'v gone overboard as I have a backup on multi sets of DVDs, another computer (networked) and a second hard drive (external).
5. Navigation. Maybe you have your vacations each in a separate folder and you want to view those pictures. Having a window pane with a directory tree is very useful.
6. Slide Show. I use this feature a lot to view our vacations.
7. Printing. This feature should allow you to print a picture in different sizes, combination of sizes, more then one picture on the same sheet, and even a contact sheet is sometimes useful.
8. Batch Processing. This is very useful if you want to do the same thing on more then one photo. The things that can be Batch Processed should be, renaming, resizing and even quick fix.
9. Screen Saver
10. Wallpaper
11. Sharing. Make a CD to share with others, publish your photos on the internet, or send your photos in an email.
12. Create. Examples include but not limited to: calendar, CD label and greeting cards.
I hope this helps you in some way and gives you an idea of what to look for.

Submitted by: Dave C. of Brady, TX



Hi Dusty K.
I recommand a free software by:
Its offers a free web album generator software that generates photo albums for use on website. hoever, the files can be stored on your computer and viewed locally by you or your mother or anyone.
Once you have found and organise all the pictures using methods other people might recommand, do use this free and useful utility to get the photo album.
Hope this helps..!

Submitted by: Jason



I imagine that you?ll get a raft of program suggestions to organize your photos. I?ve tried a few of them and found them to be confusing, and/or incompatible with tasks I wish to do with my enormous photo collection. I have taken to using a simple program (Arc Photo Impressions) to edit photos and then keep photos in a set of files on an external hard drive. I created a file for photos only on my external drive (this includes originals, scans, edits, and editing projects in progress.) I then have sub folders. Decide what your categories would be ? ?family,? ?work friends,? ?club friends,? etc. Then under each of those groupings, create files that make sense to you ? ?Friends? file could have each group of different sources as separate files under the primary folder ?friends.? ?Family? can then have a separate folder for each of your siblings. Always remember to back up your folders on a spare drive or DVDs and update regularly. I make two copies of each DVD.

I then download each subsequent series of new pictures directly into the appropriate folder or a separate folder to sort later.

This summer I will be scanning all of my old photos and organizing them in this manner.

Hope this helps!

Submitted by: Karen W.



This is a hard drive search tool for files, pictures, videos, and other things like that:

Submitted by: Anonymous



Hi , Dusty K,

I find '' PRECLICK '' an EXCELLENT way to organize one's photos,
and there is a FREE version available. ( )

It automatically searches your Computer, everytime that you open the
program, and finds any ''new'' photos that you may have accumalated.

ALSO, there is NO WAY easier to send multiple pics, than with ''PRECLICK,? I give it 100% out of 100% , NO!!! make that 110 %,

Hoping that this advice may be beneficial,

Submitted by: Jimmy R. of Australia.



Dusty k.of Baltimore,MD there is two ways , in case with the help of external programs magic viewer3.0 or higher is great way. Website is What I like is it has in right corner slide show ,you can put option delay for 1 to 5 seconds and watch slideshow like in Ms Office Powerpoint. In View menu you can check display images in sub folders then magic viewer will search whole partition for images this will take time so manually entering into subfolder in browse folders window is better idea . Other programs are picture exhibitor and photo archiver 3.5 which also has same functions as magic viewer 3.0.

And without external program then in windows there is find utility which is great .I think *.Jpeg or *.jpg or *.gif are the files you need, you can type in find named and look in entire hard disk or loacal hard in find now. Images will be listed.Another way is Ms dos prompt which is available in accessories or anywhere start -> Programs. After you will get Ms dos prompt terminal where dir/s/p *.jpg command and dir/a/s/p *.jpg command would list jpeg file from c: drive.And then entering each drive by typing d: to d: and e: to e:on prompt search continues till all jpeg files are find out.

Submitted by: Bijendra B.



FlipAlbum software very easy to use. It is not free, but it is close to perfect as it comes, easy to create pages that look like an actual photo album. Nobody can be intimated by an old fashion photo album. Software can also but the images to a cd or dvd with a few simple steps. It is very easy to customize and you can add sound or songs.

1st thing to do is do a search on your harddrive and move all of the pictures to one directory or a separate harddrive. I have a 30gb harddrive just for photos - nothing gets. Set your software to that directory in the preferrences, so that the photos will automatically be copied to that directory. Any time I plug my camera to my usb port the files are always copied to the same directory without fail.

Submitted by: Jesse E.



I also have a number of pictures. My answer isn't long or complicated. I use Microsoft Office Picture Manager. Since it comes with XP you don't need any outside software. As I add pictures I create folders with the Picture Shortcuts tool and name them to allow me to find them easily and I can edit them as necessary.
I hope this helps.

Submitted by: Dwight H.



Hi there! I'm responding to the user question about pictures, and organizing/viewing them easily.

I've used IrfanView ( for YEARS, and I really love it. Not only is it free, it's easy to use, and it's got some simple editing tools with it. It's got a great slideshow tool, and it helps you move or copy your files to any desired spot on your hard drive.

I would recommend that the XP user run a Search for anything with a ".jpg" suffix, and then store them all in a "My Pictures" folder. Once they're there, the user can go through them one by one, and categorize them - folders such as "Family", "Pets/Animals", "Nature/Landscapes/Places", "Zoo Trip", etc....sometimes folder names with the date are good if it's just fun stuff that happened one day that was photographed, and not a special event. This way when the users mother comes over, she can use Irfanview to go through the folders and see what she wants to, either by picture or by slideshow.

Good luck!

Submitted by: Corinne P.



My family got our first digital camera in June 2002, and immediately started ballooning the number of photos we took. We store all our photos on a file server at home, an online family album that my children browse on a regular basis. We now have graduated to four digital cameras, and with the kids now snapping photos, we take more photos per year than ever. Early on we hit the same difficulty you ask about: How do we organize our photos so that we can easily find them?

Since no tools existed that I was aware of at the time, we started a naming convention that has made it easy to find photos based on date. All our cameras use Compact Flash cards, and we use Microsoft?s Fax and Camera Wizard to download photos to a PC. Whenever we download photos we group them by event, and name the directory ?YYYY-MM-DD Name of Event,? for example: ?2005-07-15 Hike to Swiftcurrent Falls.? The program then appends an index number to each photo, usually based on the time the photo was taken: ?2005-07-15 Hike to Swiftcurrent Falls 010.jpg.? All photos are then grouped by year in a series of directories on the file server. NOTE: It is imperative that the year comes before the month, and month before the day, so that the sub-directories will sort in chronological order. Also, always include the leading zero for the same sorting reason (2005-01-07 for January 7th instead of 2005-1-7). We can almost always drill directly to what we?re looking for based on memory of when an event took place.

I have since found Adobe Photoshop Album, and have begun the process of culling through our digital library to apply context and searching indices to our photos. It allows easy organization of files you import by a number of contexts using photo tags: Events; People; Family; Places; etc. You can create/delete tags to meet your needs, nesting them within one another to ease the search for just the right photo. For example, I will go through and tag each photo of my daughter with her name, regardless of where the photo exists in the directory structure. I can then browse by her name and see all the photos I have associated with her. Photoshop Album also allows you to quickly browse by the date a photo was taken using a nifty index bar at the top that allows you to drag a viewer over a date to see all the photos taken near that date.

To rename photos that are not in conformance with the naming convention, we simply move them back onto a Compact Flash card, remove it, reinsert it, and re-import the photos using the Camera Wizard, applying the correct name to the directory/event. If you can?t remember when an event took place, browse the photos directory and look at the properties of one of the photos. It will indicate the date and time the photo was taken, and likely the camera with which it was taken. It takes some time to organize, but to find what you?re looking for it is well worth the effort.

Submitted by: Doug B.



The best advice is ACD SEE 7. 0. It will browse your hard disk and build a databank automatically ; You will be able to browse the thumbnails , if that is what you are looking for; this program is not free but contains additional features ;none of them are of exceptional interest but they are useful and the interface is an easy one.

Next there is the free program Irfan view; if you get it, it?s really amazing how simple it is ; very powerful , free , but do not expect other features than organizing your pictures.

Photoshop ALBUM 2. 0 is very good also , not free , (EXPENSIVE! As is everything at ADOBE), Not as simple as the previous one ; more complete of course. I restrict to these three because you asked for a program that your mother can click without asking.

Submitted by: Olivier G.



One word; Thumbsplus. I've been using it for years and I have over 20,000 photos to deal with.

Submitted by: Vern P.



I have tried out different photo software over the years and the my favorite one is BrilliantPhoto. BrilliantPhoto makes managing your growing digital photo library fast, easy and fun. In BrillianPhoto you can easily import, organize, edit, e-mail and create a photo gallery. You download a free trial copy at and if you like it pay $27.

Submitted by: Davin P.



In response to the question about storing and organizing pictures, I would like to suggest the Kodak Easy Share program. I am currently running their newest edition, Version and am enjoying it on My Windows 98 SE computer. You can download your pictures, which will automatically be stored into an individual folder under the date you download them. There is also a master page which will show all your pictures until you delete them out.

From this page, you can upload them into the Easy Share Albums, selecting which ever pictures you want. This is thru Ofoto and works nicely. Once stored in that album, you can then email your family or friends the album, containing all that you are storing there, instead of the individual pictures.

Easy share also makes it very easy to edit your pictures, from enhancing, to cropping to changing the contrast and brightness, etc. One other feature is the easy ability to print directly from the Easy Share page. It has a choice of Kodak paper you can use to get the best quality of prints and various sizes of prints available.

The program is free and can be downloaded directly from the website. Look for downloads, select your system and register with Kodak and you will be in business. The download takes me almost 2 hrs. with my dial up, but it is worth it.

I hope this suggestion will help, as I have also tried Picasso, Mypix and Yahoo but none can compare to Kodak as far as I am concerned

I happened to think of a couple areas that if using the Kodak or any other program, might be helpful.

First of all, record in a ledger all of your separate folder downloads with the date, individual group of picture numbers and a general description of what each folder contains. This makes for a fast reference in case you want to bring some back into your computer.

But, before you delete them, I always burn each separate folder to a CD. That way, I have permanent storage of every picture that I take.

Submitted by: Lee L. of Cattaraugus, NY



Hi Dusty

There are photo organizers/viewers out there. Some you have to buy, some have trial periods before you buy, some you can get through a photo finishing (which are usually active as long as you are a member), some can be gotten for the shipping and handling of a CD ROM disc(, some are free for the ISP connection and download time involved to download the application.

Photo, Picture Organizer Deluxe, v2.4 Photo, Image Inventory Software for Windows, from PrimaSoft ( It will work with the following Windows Operating Systems; 95, 98, ME, 2000, 2003, NT, XP. It is a Try Now Download. Download a free, fully functional trial version. The trial version will expire 45 days after installation. Cost is $65.00.

Still others are freeware put out by Fresh Devices this is my favorite for couple of reasons. For one it is free, the other is that it will show images no matter where they are on your hard. Now you will have to register this software but it is a free registry and they only use the email to let you know when there are new updates to the Fresh View organizer/viewer. If it is not registered, they will not stop the software from working, but it will delay the start up of the application (something like 3 minutes) before anything can be done with the application. Fresh Devices will never deny access to their software due to non-registration. Cost free.

Then last but not least there is SnapFish ( It is free (for the time being) to register. There is a very big advantage to using SnapFish. Once registered there are other free offers such as; free film and developing, 25 free prints, after the first 25 prints, prints are
$0.12 per print, if you have scanned in photo prints or digital photos you upload them into SnapFish. With your photos uploaded you create an album.

Now your mother does not have to wait to view the new photos when she gets to your place, if she has access to the internet she can see the photos as soon as you upload them to Snapfish. Cost, signing up and registering, otherwise free (for the time being).

Now you have four different choices and reasons for each. I am not going to tell you which I would use. That choice is up to you to make based on the information given.

Hope this helps,

Submitted by: Rick B. of Warren, MI




If you go to there you will find free software that will let you store and organise your pictures in "albums".

Copied from site :-

?DigiBookShelf v.11 is now available for FREE download.

Album Wizard lets you easily collect and import images or videos and organize them into customizable photo albums. Or even easier, simply drag and drop a folder of photos onto a bookshelf to create a new album or add pictures to an existing one.

Let the fun part begin! Fix photo problems easily whether they were taken during the day, night or sunset! Apply a variety of filter effects or color modifications to enhance your precious pictures. Then, make a neat presentation with slideshows or digibook albums.

Send photos or albums by email or upload to our server to share. Print personlized greetings or calendars. Burn albums or slideshows onto a CD/DVD for a memorable holiday gift. Preserve your memories with backup on CD & DVD for the future.?

Best of luck,

Submitted by: Keith B.



Simple solution:
Use Windows XP's standard search function (start >> Search >> For files or folders) and let it search for all the pictures. If you in stead of list view, choose thumbnail view, then all your mother has to do is click on what she likes.

Better solution:
Use the method above to find all your files. Then start up the windows explorer and create 1 directory somewhere and give it a usefull name like "My pics". Now you can drag and drop files from the search window into the windows explorer and presto you're organised. If you're smart you'll create some sort of structure in there (sort by date, subject, whatever works best for you). You can just use the windows explorer and all your mother has to do is click the pictures she likes.

Best solution:
Use the above solution to get origanised and then use either the software that came standard with your digital camera or if you want to try something else then have a look at CNETs selection of reviewed software. There's loads to find for free and I personally like xnview (free tool, powerful, simple to use).



Of all the numerous photo software out there I found Webshots Desktop the easiest for sorting and viewing all my images/photos. I think it would be ideal for your mother to master.

Submitted by: Robbie R.



Hi Dusty,
Look no further than a program called GAZO.

The best and simplest I have Seen. Just like flipping a photo album. Of course there are other programs like this.

Submitted by: Clive S.



Nothing beats a good organization system. I make a folder (e.g. Family Pics) and put all the folders that have pictures in them in this folder. There is a great utility to find duplicates called Duplicate file finder from They have a free version, but if you upgrade to the registered version it takes away all the limitations. It does an amazing job finding duplicates of pictures, music files, etc.

Submitted by: Gerry S.

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I strongly recommend Flickr

Dear all:
I highly recommend Flickr ( I think it is one of the best photo-sharing, photo-organizing websites. You can apply for a free account with 200 photos limit. The website can be easily integrated into your blog. You can also add notes and tags to your photos. You can also buy a pro account if you pay US$ 24.95 for a year. As a pro account, you get 2GB montly upload limit, unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, and unlimited photosets. I just love it very much. After I recommended it to my friends, some of them have addicted to it. It has more than 1,000,000 members and keeps increasing. Of course, I still keep my photos in my NB and desktop and also back them up once in a while. Trust me, once you try Flickr, you will love it.

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Flickr and log in

I have tried Flickr because the features looked excellent. I have found one problem: anyone who wants to view my photos must create an account and log in to the site. Not everyone wants to provide a lot of information to a web site just to view photos. Is there a way to view photo albums on Flickr without creating an account?

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Re: Flickr and log in

The fact is that your friends can view your photos but they can't give comments or add notes if they are not a member of Flickr.
From "Account Page", you can find "Default Photo Privacy" and find out "Who can see your photos?", "Who can comment?", and "Who can add notes & tags?". You have some control of those items. As I said, they can view your photos unless you make them private.

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Why Flikr, Picasso or anything else?

Why use any of those programs? I used Picassa, didn't like it. Bought a couple, didn't like them either. So I used the search function of XP (got rid of the annoying dog, easy as there's a function right there that does that) told it to find all photos, got rid of all the ones that weren't mine (took time but worth it and also gained ram and space on my hard drive), backed up the photos to both a CD-R and an external hd. CD-R's are too cheap not to use them. So are externals. Then used a DVD-R to back up all my programs, files, folders, etc., again pretty cheap, wiped my hard drive, used the DVD-R to get my files, programs, etc back on my hd and also had them on my external. Or, if you tend to be kind of cheap, use a DVD-RW and CD-RW, both overwritable you know.
I use a 160 gig hd on my computer and a 300 external. Or ujse a 160 gig external, although I recommend double capacity. Both are well worth the money. Also I upgrade my computer at least once a year, generally twice, as new stuff keeps coming, even if it is obsolete before it's finished. Spend some money friends. Back up everything to your CD's and DVD's every time you put it on your hard drive (easy enough, just right click and send it a brief case, new file, whatever). And always delete those photos, files and whatever you don't want. You'd be surprised how much garbage there is on your hard drive.

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Re: Why Flickr, Picasso or anything else?

If you keep your photos on CDs or DVDs, it is not easy to share with your friends. That's one of the main reasons that I like Flickr. Since I become a pro member of Flickr, I put all of my photos there.

We all attend diffrent social activities and want to email photos to our friends. If the size of high-resolution photos are large (and they usually are), it is not easy to send them those photos. Right now, I just tell them my site at Flickr (, and they can download their photos. It's as easy as that.

I also have a lot of contacts in Flickr and can view their photos easily. Last but not least, I join many groups and can share my photos with them. Cheers.

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This is a new service that offers everyone 5gb storage for free, forever!

It has wonderful capabilities and offers amazing products, including the "Movie Magic DVD" which takes 100 photos and turns them into a beautifully produced video very inexepensively.

They keep adding to the system, and soon will offer to digitize old VHS and 8mm films.

You can easily share albums with anyone you wish, without having to send photo attachments.

And you can become a distributor and make passive income whenever anyone signs up through your site, or orders product. So you refer people, and get a check too! My site is at

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Photomax is cool!!!
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Photomax is cool!!! With extra savings
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The key to organizing your pictures is setting up a process

The key to organizing your pictures is not the application you use, but setting up a process of storing your pictures. The process I use is as follows:

1) Decide the top level folder where you are going to store your pictures:

My Documents\My Pictures is a good choice

I am on old UNIX guy, so I put mine in \Home\Pictures so that the rest of the family can access them easily.

2) Within your top level folder, create a sorting folder called "New Pictures" where you always initially copy new random photos.

3) Within your top level folder, create folders with the following format:

YEAR.MONTH (e.g. 2005.08, 2005.09, etc.)

If your pictures are from a specific event, add the name of the event after the date. For example:

2005.08 - Disney World Vacation

Sorting by date and then name makes it very easy to find pictures in the future. Drag pictures from the "New Pictures" folder into the appropriate date folder.

4) Backup your Pictures folder regularly. Because all your pictures are now in a single top level folder, you can back up just that folder and be sure that you won't loose any of your pictures.

5) Pick a program for viewing, rotating, and correcting my digital pictures. I use ACDSee 7, but there are many others out there.

6) Always follow your process. If you get into the habit of copying your pictures to some random location on your computer, you will likely loose something in the future.

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Organizing Photos

I agree! Do NOT mix the 3 areas of Organizing Photos, Viewing Photos, and Editing Photos. If you try one size fits all you will be making unnecessary comprimises that will bite you big time down the road and you loose flexibility.

USE WINDOWS TO ORGNIZE - The best scheme is to use My Photos Folder, and then organized folders by date and topic. For Example, the foldername is: 2005.08.12.Christmas. Then when you view folders they are by date and you can also search by name "Vacation" for example.

You know EXACTLY where you photos are stored for backups or sharing photos, and can view thumbnails view to get a quick view of the contents (Win XP).

USE BEST IN CLASS VIEWERS TO VIEW PHOTOS - My favorite is ACDSee but there are many. When on a different PC, just use Windows XP built in filmstrip to view photos quickly.

USE BEST IN CLASS EDITORS TO EDIT - My favorites are Photoshop Elements v2 and PaintShop Pro, but there are many others.

When you do this, you can easily change what you use when something "better" come along without affecting what else you use, you can easily make photo CDs and DVDs that anyone can use on any computer, and you can quickly create DVDs to serve as a backup, using generic CD burning software.

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Simple Photo Programs

DUSTY I have found that there are about a million photo programs available. the more you pay the more you will be confused. Stick to some thing simple like Microsoft Piture it or ACDSee they will both help you organize your photos into a recognizable pattern.
Most Digital Cameras come with a program that will help you download and fix your photos as well as store them search you camera box for a CD ROM with the program.
If you at some time in the future feel that you are now an expert and wish to more with your photos, Try Photo Suite or Adobe Photo Shop to really get the most out of your photo Experience.

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Microsoft Photo Story

I didn't see any other posts with this program.
Photostory is a free download from

This program converts a lifeless slideshow into a movie. You can add music, titles and narration. You simply download all the pictures you want into the the program and just follow the on-screen step-by-step instructions.

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My solution for organizing photos

Check out "Photomax", an awesome way to organize your photos, as well as do other things you probably had not thought of. Just go to,
then click on 'What is Photomax' and selection the video presentation.

I encourage you to browse the rest of the website. If it seems to provide the solution you were looking for, go to and open up a free account.

Either way it would be good to get some feedback to see if this service really solves a lot of problem many of us have with photos. I like it because I am not a tech person and frankly, I don't want to spend a lot of time collecting and organizing photos.

Dekki Williams

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Other advice from our members
Other suggestions


The first step is to locate all your picture files. Most digital picture files are saved as JPEG?s (jpg). The Search Companion offers the most direct way to locate files. You can use wildcard characters to locate all the JPG files on your hard drive. Click Start ? Search ? All Files and Folders. In the box under ?All or Part of the File Name:? you can type *.jpg (the asterisk is your wildcard meaning any file with a JPG extension). In the box under ?Look In:? make sure it says Local Hard Drive C: and nothing else so it searches the entire drive and not just a particular folder. Now click Search to find your pictures.
Once the search is done you?ll need to go through the pictures to select which ones (some may be sample pictures provided by various programs) you want to organize. To do this you click on the first one and hold down your CTRL key while clicking each file you want.
After you have selected all the pictures you want, open up the My Pictures folder (My Pictures is located on your Start menu). Make sure both windows are visible, click on (and hold) the highlighted picture files and drag them to the My Pictures folder.
You can then view your photos and image files as a slide show or in the Filmstrip view. In Filmstrip view, your pictures appear in a single row of thumbnail images. You can scroll through your pictures using the left and right arrow buttons. If you click a picture, it is displayed as a larger image above the other pictures. You can double-click a picture to edit, print, or save the image to another folder.
To view your pictures as a slide show in the My Pictures folder, under Picture Tasks (left side menu) click View as a slide show. Use the slide show toolbar buttons to play, pause, move to the previous or next slide, or end the slide show. If the toolbar is not displayed, move the pointer across the screen, and it will appear in the upper-right corner of the screen. If none of the pictures or only one picture is selected, all of the pictures will be shown in the slide show. If two or more pictures are selected, only those pictures will be shown in the slide show.
When downloading pictures from your camera in the future, try using the Scanner and Camera Wizard. By default, Windows saves those pictures in My Pictures (unless you change the location). Plug your camera into your computer. If your camera is Plug and Play, the Scanner and Camera Wizard will start.

Submitted by: Cathi C.



You really don't need new software to do the job of organizing photos. I have hundreds on my computer at any given time, and can ALWAYS find what I want within's how:

First I open a folder on my desktop and give it the name of the month (I also have one that says "Photos 2005" on the desktop). During that month, every photo I take is downloaded into that folder. The folder is then sorted within the folder with separate folders with the name of the topic, and the edited photos are stored according to topic. At the end of each month, the Photos July, or whatever, is moved into the 2005 folder, and a new folder for August is opened and ready. I archive my photos on CDs quarterly, but you can do it anyway you wish....if you take fewer photos, just archive once a year. I also keep Downloaded Photos that I save in a folder labeled as "Downloads" in each monthly folder. Sure makes life easy with only two folders on the desktop in which to search.

May pay you to have a "Stock Photo" folder with copies photos you use all the, pets etc., so you need not go into your CDs for photos you use frequently, just be sure a copy is stored in the appropriate dated folder, too, just in case you delete or crash, at least you always have a copy of the most important photos stored in an easy retrieval system.

Submitted by: Nance R. of Costa Mesa, CA




Hello Dusty of Baltimore,

In XP the easiest way to save any kind of pictures is to create Folders in MY DOCUMENTS. You should already have a folder called MY PICTURES, ignore this as it was created by Microsoft to hold pictures as a start for beginners.

Work out what type of pictures you wish to keep together, such as
Family Photos
Holidays in America
Holidays overseas
Car Trips.
You can never create too many folders and I am a believer in having folders in my email for every person that writes to me, including one for CNET.

Once you have worked this out and created the folders with the names you wish to have, simply search for the photos and transfer them to the appropriate folders which you created.

When you have accomplished this and have new photos to add, decide on which folder is the correct one for each new photo - think carefully.
This is really very simple!

In MY DOCUMENTS I have folders in the same manner for Music, which is broken down into classical, Celtic, c&w, world, opera, ballet, blues, jazz etc.

In fact my own My Documents has hundred's of folders under a certain heading like
animated pictures, scrolling scripts, signatures. Once this is set up you are home and away and can find everything in alphabetical order

You can also have files under a particular folder, but I prefer to not use these as they can get hidden.

Hope this helps.

Submitted by: Vernon V. of Tasmania, Australia



Well Dusty, the most fatal thing according to arranging files, is that we don't name them by some hint before we save them on the drive. And the prob. as you can see gets bigger and bigger as long as the files grow in quantity.
So i suggest that you make a new folder each time you want to save a pack of pictures, or to dowload some from a media, such as your digital camera for example, or from the internet, and name it so you can identify its contents by simply reading its tittle.
Now, I will try to help you without any use of any software.
As you mentioned you are running Windows XP, so i see that the memory of your computer is acceptable to do the following:
1- First Try to run the search utility, from any folder, like the my computer one. The one that stands on your computers descktop. So Double click "my computer" from the descktop, and click on the search Button from the standard buttons toolbar. (if you don't see it, click on the "view" tab, and then make sure that you mark the "standard buttons" after pointing to toolbars.
2- Now, from the "search companion" ( the left section that appears in the folder), click on the "Picture, Music, or videos" link as an answer to the had question: "what do you want to search for?"
3- Check the "Pictures and photos" box only as a definition to search for all files of the mentioned type, that are located on your computer.
4- Click "advanced search options", and then click "More advanced options" at the bottom, and make sure that you ckeck the box near "Search Hidden files and folders" and near "Search subfolders".
5- In this step you have the choice either to define the location of the wanted pictures, if you know it, like "My Documents" for instance, or to skip the complete step "5" And if you can define the desired location, you can click on the "advanced search options" and in the "Look in" Area click the down arrow at the right to specify the desired folder. (Notice that your computer would neglect any pictures that are not in the specified folder, so if you are not sure that the wanted pictures are in this folder, skip step 5 completly)
5- Click the "search" button, and your computer will locate all the pictures found in the specified folder (or in your hard drive, in case you didn't specify any). And be patient as the process may take a long time depending on the amount of pictures you have. ( So i do recommend you that you specify a suspecious folder at a time, if you know it)
6- after the results are displayed, try to arrange them by date of modification, (and here i suppose you haven't modified the majority of them by any programs after you saved them). This arranging process can be done by right clicking on a blank area between the results and choosing "arrange icons by" and then choose "modified".
7- Here you go you have all the pictures and photos found on the location searched, arranged by the date of saving them. So that you can recongnize, each package of pictures together according to the time and date they where taken, so that you can maybe start to rearrang them in appropriate folders as i mentioned earlier.
In this step make sure that you had turned the detailed view on, so that you can see the date of each package too. (to turn the detailed view on you just need to click the view tab, and then click on details)

Hope i helped.

Submitted by: Samir S. of Lebanon


I am not the best organized person either, but when it comes to my pictures, I am pretty well organized.

In "My Pictures", I have a number of folders. I have divided them into Categories. When I open "My Pictures", you see several folders. One is just a "Misc." folder, where I put just odds and ends until I figure out how I want to classify them. I have a folder where I save GIF files that I copy from emails folks send me that I like to use. I have a few other folders that are basically specified, like "brackets", since I like to do scroll sawing. Then, I have the one called "Categories". Within that one, I have subdivided even more folders. I have family, friends, pets, animals, underwater, and so on, according to my likes. I have light houses, sunsets, and so on. Then, I will subdivide each of those. Family: mother/father, children, siblings, cousins, and so on. For me, this has been the easiest thing. My biggest collection of pictures, however, is my Alan Jackson Collection. I have one of my sub folders entitled "Alan Jackson", then that one is subdivided too.

Your collection is from 3 years, my collection is from 10 years. This is just my pictures. I have also done the same basic thing with "My Briefcase", for articles or stories. Stories I have collected, stories I have written, and so on.

It will take some time, but really, not too much at all. To start out, if your pictures are scattered, send them all to "My Pictures" and set up a few different categories. To be sure you are saving space, use the "Move Folder" instead of just "Copy Folder", that way, you don't wind up with duplicates and forget what you have moved and haven't moved. After you have rounded them all up in the folders, then you can do the same thing, to create sub-folders. In no time at all, you will be very organized. The best thing too is, when you go to save a new picture, you know just where to put it.

I hope this is helpful, and that I explained it well enough to help you get a bit more organized. After all that is done, be sure to burn them onto CDs so you are sure you have a back up for them, and then label what the categories are.

Submitted by: Linda M.



I had the same problem. I resolved it by using the code "PH" (without the quotes) for any photograph, followed by the title, followed by the date. I do this with a "SAVE AS" function to my documents, my briefcase, or whereever I wantto keep it. PH will group all photos together in thaparticular file. The date tells me when it was taken and also allows for more than one photo of the same title.

For example: PH SUBJECTOFPHOTO 20050729

If you go to my documents, my briefcase or wherever you placed the photo; you will find them listedalphabetically under PH. Also you can do a search for files or folders with the title, date, or even the code PH.

I also use this coding system to keep any particular group of items together. The same results can be obtained by saving your photos to a folder established for that purpose such as "My Pictures." I avoid that because I used My Pictures as a screensaver of selected photos and don't want all of them in the screensaver. That is just my personal preference.
Andy Whiteman of Raytown, MO

Submitted by: Andy W. of Raytown, MO


Answer:'s time to get organized. First I would go to Windows Explorer. In the folder called My Documents is another folder called My Pictures. Highlight that and then click on File on the Menu bar. Select New and then Folder...this will allow you to create as many folders as you'd like to file your digital pictures.

Now click on your Start button and then click on Search. I presume that you saved your pictures as jpg files, but it doesn't matter. Search for Pictures, music, or video and then select Pictures and Photos and click on the search button. It will bring up every file on your computer that is in photo format. I would suggest selecting Thumbnails under View on the Menu bar which will allow you to "see" the photos.

Now it's time to file them where you want them either one at a time or by holding down the Control button and selecting photos you want to put in the same folder you created earlier. Once you've selected the photos you want to file, under Edit on the Menu bar, select Move to Folder. Locate the folder you want and select it...your photos will be filed in their new location. Keep doing this until you've filed all of your photos.

Submitted by: Brian K. of Maryland's Eastern Shore



Here's a solution that won't cost you anything but time

First make sure you have a my images folder.

In that folder create a bunch of empty folders with names in year month format (i.e 2005-01 for Jan 2005) Make as many as you need to go back to the first dated picture on your PC. You can always add more later.

Start a search from the top folder in My Computer. Right click on the C: drive and choose search.

In the search options dialog box click on the more advanced options item.

In the type of file pull-down filed choose JPEG file (assuming your files are jpg's) If you have mixed file types skip this step and enter *.jpg,*.bmp,.... in the file name field (enter all the types you have pictures in)

Make sure Search subfolders is checked.

Click search.

When the search is finished. Click the Folders icon at the top of the search window, under the menu line.

Click the Date Modified column heading to sort your list of found files into date order.

In the folder tree pane of the window (which appeared when you clicked the folders icon in the step above) find the My images folder ( you may need to expand folders, if you do only click on the little +s by the folder name so you don?t change the view in the other pane.

Now you can block and drag your found pictures into the correct month folder.

Now when you want to show the pictures just go to the correct month folder in my computer and make sure that you choose view -> thumbnails from the menu. Instant picture index!. Now you can just open the ones you want (or all, you know how grandmothers are).

Submitted by: Ron T.




I am by no means a power user as are some of the folks on these forums, but recently had the same problem you're experiencing. My husband and daughter are both photographers and have gone almost completely digital. Additionally, my husband recently began a home business in photography, and with his new Canon Rebel, is shooting RAW images - definitely eats up the storage space on the computer. They weren't always careful about where the images were stored. I'm also in the process of transferring all my vinyl LP's to the computer (after the CNET weekend project appeared!), so I have a great deal of music to store. I solved our problem by purchasing two external 80 gig hard drives. Mine are Iomega, but there are a number of different brands available. They're kept on a shelf just above the computer and I have them labeled on the outside so its very easy to switch between drives. I just plug in the power and USB cords, wait a few seconds for the computer to recognize the drive, and we're ready to go. The price was terrific as there were two rebates available on each drive, bringing it down to about $50 each.

Both my daughter and husband had some folders and subfolders set up on the computer, so I used their designations on the photo hard drive, and ran a search for the main graphics formats they had on our machine - jpg, gif, and tif - and moved the pictures found in other locations. They've both been instructed to transfer any new images to the appropriate folder on the external drive after doing whatever adjustments are needed after downloading the pictures. But I expect I'll need to do a search about once a month to be sure they're following instructions!

Good luck with your problem!

Submitted by: Maggie M. of Alpine, Texas



Without getting into any of the album type software out there The best thing you can do with your photos is to use an organised directory structure and naming convention. Keep all photos in one base folder and create a new sub folder for each set. Always precede the name of the folder with the date of the start of the photo set too. If you use the date format yyyy-mm-dd then your folders will always sort in date order. For example:

Photos\2005-01-01_New years day party
Photos\2005-02-14_Valentines meal

Generally people want to rename their pictures from the camera format (such as PIC001.JPG) to something meaningful. It is always an idea to keep a numbering system in front of the name and always pad with leading zeros so that 11 comes after 10 not after 1.

With those simple rules you can't go wrong and can always find anything you need easily, know when it is and in what order the photos were taken.

Submitted by: Rob F.
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my photos

For my Photos I made a master folder holding all photos and a sub file by year the by month. As I put new photos in I print and a sheet to a folder away from the computer as well as puting them on a CDR also stored away from the computer. At the present time I have just under 5 GB of photos


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Why make life complicated?

All good sound advice, I'm sure, but what a lot of effort! My suggestion for one who would appear to be as unorganised as myself is to download picasa2 from those awfully nice people at Google ( , I believe) and it will automatically search your entire hard drive for images, bringing them all together with an easy to use photo organiser/editor/viewer package which also makes emailing images a doddle (automatic resizing etc.). This way it won't matter where you put your photos on your hard drive as picasa will seek them out and retrieve them all for you without you needing to lift a finger.

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Image organization

ThumbsPlus Pro

Also handles RAW images of many different manafacturers

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ThumbsPlus rocks!

Since we went digital, we've started taking somewhere near 3000 pix on an overseas vacation plus lots of other daily type ones. ThumbsPlus is terrific--it finds the pix, finds dupes, does batches, thumbnails, etc.

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simple folders & date method

Dusty, hi. For another simple way (similar to the others):
Open windows explorer (start+E), click 'my documents' then 'my pictures' in the folder tree on the left. Resize windows explorer to take up the right hand side of the screen.
Open a search window (start+F) and do a search on all hard drives for pictures. Hit view>details to get the results into an easily viewable list. Right click on 'name' at the top and click 'date created' if it doesn't have a tick next to it. Once done, single click the grey 'date created' field at the top to sort all the results by date. Since your digicam pics will all have been sequentially created as you uploaded them to the computer from the camera, this will bunch photos in sets which will likely correspond to holidays/outings/whatever.
Resize the search window to take up the left side of the screen, revealing windows explorer.
Hit view>thumbnails to get the view back to a state where you can see the pics. From the top down, look through for sets of images, once the first is found click over to windows explorer and right click>new folder> name it whatever the event featured in the first set of pictures is, ideally with the date as well, e.g. '2005.1.14 France Holiday with Jon and Ali'. Select the relevant pics in the search window and drag them accross.
(Unless i've missed something important, i don't see why so many people have advised copying & pasting these over, since it'll just double the space your pics take up n your hard drive, PLUS make this process more cluttered if you have to do it again, whereby you can simply ignore all pictures in my docs/my pics)
Scroll down the search window and repeat until all pics are in individual folders. Then, if you've got enough, create parent folders for event sets, e.g. a new folder called 'French House' if you've got a second home you go to all the time, or 'Sailing Holidays' or 'Ski Holidays' or 'wedddings' etc. You get the idea, go wild.
If you want to rename the pics themselves, a nice way to start is getting yourself a batch renaming prog ('ll help you here since i'm out of touch). First off, organise the pics by date in each folder and replace the name with a numerical sequence, so at least they'll be 1,2,3 etc. OR a named numerical sequence so: Spain2005-01.jpg, Spain2005-02.jpg
THEN if you can find or buy a suitalbe prog (check picasa on this one) you could append pics based on characteristics like people in them or views, e.g. Spain2005-01-Marc,Gabi,Steve.jpg
This way they'll be organisable by date, order, event name, and searchable by all 3 + people and places.
This takes dedication for a big collection, but the first bit (folders, subfolders, Spain2005-01.jpg) you can have nailed in a few hours, irrespective of collection size (assuming your not the lazy curator of the worlds archive of digital photos or anything like that)

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Organising your photos - a couple of extra tips.

Dear Dusty,
You have had a wealth of great advice on this, but I have a couple of particular suggestions.

If your digital camera is anything like mine it allocates numerical filenames to each picture (eg SANYO.000, SANYO.001, etc.) This produces a couple of potential problems:

1) When downloaded, it is impossible to tell which picture is which until you view them. When you do so, there will be a lot of pictures. You may wish to delete the poor images first. I suggest you then re-name all the images to something easy to recognise (eg 'Peter in Scarborough 2005'). If you do this every time you download your pictures, you may avoid the other problem:

2) If you didn't already rename your images of a previous download, and you erased the memory in your camera, the camera may allocate the same filenames to your next set of photographs (SANYO.000, SANYO.001, etc). When you download your latest masterpieces, the process may replace all your previous photos with the new ones.

It might not become apparent right away. But if you use the 'Search for files' utility on your computer as almost everyone has suggested, and copy them all into the same folder, only one copy of each filename will be copied. You could lose a lot of pictures this way. Make sure all your images have different filenames BEFORE you copy them into a common directory. This takes a while, but just calling them 1.jpg, 2.jpg, etc will avoid this problem.

By the way, keep a record of the last number you used and don't re-use any numbers in the future unless you wish to deliberately replace selected images.

Hope that is helpful.

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Storing your photos

I store them in a folder called ''My Documents'' and in a subfolder called ''My Photos''. I then create another folder for each year. I sometimes even make a subfolder for a special event or trip within that year. I do this because I like to scrapbook and I don't want to lose my photos.

I backup ''My Documents'' at least once a month to another network computer drive. Ocassionally I back them up to an external harddrive. ''My Documents'' contains everything I want to save in the event of a hard drive crash i.e. my Quicken database, Turbo Tax databases, photos, resumes, special articles I want to save, scans, my address book, my e-mail folders etc. You get the idea. This means, one file backed up and if I lose my PC's hard drive I only have to restore my backup file and the software and all will be right with the world again. Good luck!

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Three Essential Aspects for Organising Pictures

There are three main features you need to think about and implement when organising pictures/photos on your PC so that you can easily view them later. These features are:
1. Where to store the image files
2. How to name the files in a meaningful way
3. How to enable easy viewing

There really is nothing more logical or simple than to physically store all your pictures in one place. I established a single directory called GRAPHICS where all photos (and other pictures) are stored. There are several sub-directories within GRAPHICS, but all photographs end up in MY ALBUM. Some other sub-folders within GRAPHICS are:
CAMERA DOWNLOADS, where all photos are first stored for Review, Selection/Rejection, Editing and Naming, before they are finally moved to MY ALBUM
SCAN DOWNLOADS, does the same as Camera Downloads for scans or copies from Web images, etc

The MY ALBUM folder can be thought of a big 'shoe-box' where I just toss all the pictures I want to keep for future viewing.

The original names assigned to picture files by cameras is purely mechanical in order to give each image file a unique Identity. It is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY that you give each picture a meaningful name that is both Unique, and Descriptive. I could write a small book on this subject, but here's how I do it.
I begin the name with a letter:
E for event, for any picture primarily related to an event such as birthday, holiday, wedding, etc
H for hobby, for pictures specifically related to my many hobbies
P for people, for any picture in which the primary subject is a person or persons
S for scene, where the primary subject of the picture is a scenic view
T for thing, where the primary subject is a 'thing' eg. car, ship, building, pet, flower, etc
A few words/keywords follow to describe the primary subject of the picture. I also add a date in the form 'mmmyy' before the suffix (usually .jpg)
Some examples of this naming convention are:
(P) Mary 6 yrs May04.jpg
(E) Weekend Party Bills Cottage Sep03.jpg
(S) Sunset Lake Placid Jun04
(T) Parthenon Athens Mar04.jpg
(H) Tiger Moth electric Jan03.jpg
It is then very easy to use Windows Explorer to search for and find any single or group of pictures.

I use FLIP ALBUM ( view my pictures as if they were in a physical Photo Album. It is far and away the very best way to view your pictures, or to let others view them in a purely natural and intuitive way. It is super simple to create 'quick and dirty' albums, or create very detailed 'portfolios' of selected pictures. Creating an Album of selected pictures from your 'shoebox' does not create a new physical album, but rather allows you to view specific pictures from within the 'showbox' in a sequence which you specify and each picture can be annotated with as much detail feel like typing in. In other words you can create unlimited different
'virtual albums' which you can save for later viewing.

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Saving Photos

Saving all your photos in a folder on the desktop is good if you only have a small number of photos. I have 20000+ photos. I create the photos folder on my D drive. This is important in the advent of a problem with the C drive. You wont lose your photos and can easily move the drive to another PC or replace the C drive without disturbing your photos.Inside your photos folder I create topic folders, such as History, Nature,etc.
When I transfer photos from the camera to PC using a card reader, I create a folder with the name of where I took the photos, such as Phila, then Phila2 on the desktop.I use Adobe Photoshop Album to review and delete any pictures I dont want. Then I name each photo with a name of what it is such as Grandkids. You can multiple select photos and it will sequentially number them. I leave the folders on my desktop until I have enough to burn a CD. This is your negative or insurance. I drag and drop the folders to my D drive. It is not necessary to attach a bunch of keyword to your photos because you have good file and folder names.
To find the photos I want I use the find files or folder in Windows, such as butterfly. From the find I copy the photos to a folder on the desktop and Use Photoshop Essentials to crop, enhance, resize, and print.
I like the Photoshop programs because they will handle photos from and digital camera. This is not the case if you use the software that comes with the camera.

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File Naming Conventions

I am not going to begin advising on any particular software, because it is largely down to preference.

I tried Picasa, but it took an age to search for and index my image files. That's something I don't need because I have got into the habit of using several programs for specific purposes.

I use Paint Shop Pro's Right-Click on a folder and "Browse" to see thumbnails and to allow me the ability to edit selected photo's using all of PsP's available tools. Sometimes I prefer Irfanview's right-click option to do the same if I want to do a "batch rename" of files in a particular folder.

I use Windows 98se primarily, and I don't like "Thumbnail View", but on XP I like the feature that you can set a folder's "view" to suit the type of files in it.

Picasa is a pretty good utility for those who aren't quite as used to using Windows Explorer to do their organising, and there are others which have been mentioned that are equally good (if not better). I tried Flip Album once and, although I found no compelling need to view images in "albums" or carry on using it, I DID recommend it to my 70 year old Father who found it an easier way to organise his images.

My main reason for posting is in furtherance of the mention by douglaspjones of naming images eg. 1.jpg, 2.jpg, etc. I always recommend naming them 001.jpg (or even 0001.jpg depending on the number of images), 002.jpg, 003.jpg, etc.

The reason for this is the way Windows shows files and folders with names made from numbers. If you had a series of photo's numbered 1.jpg to 31.jpg, A.jpg to Z.jpg, and AA.jpg to ZZ.jpg, Windows Explorer would display them in the following order (descending order) when Windows Explorer is set to display files "By Name":

10.jpg to 19.jpg
20.jpg to 29.jpg
4.jpg to 9.jpg

If, however, you named the images 0001.jpg to 0031.jpg, they would display in the proper order.

Most digital cameras automatically create filenames from various elements including the date and a sequential index number. Usually this can be modified into some other format that might be more suited to the user or the method of organising them once on your hard drive.

It can be a bit confusing, and is something to bear in mind when naming files. There can also be issues with long filenames that contain spaces when burning images to CD-R's for distribution to other people, and it depends largely on your settings in the CD Burning software. I have got into a habit of never using spaces in my file names, and using underscores instead of them.

Hope this info is useful

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File Naming Problem for CD's

Through the agonies of trial and error, I have found that filenames longer than 64 characters (including the suffix) can cause CD writing to fail. Seems CD software/hardware designers didn't think people need more than that, whereas Windows allows 255.!!!! Within this limit of 64 characters, spaces don't seem to be a problem. Does anyone have the 'true scoop' on this subject???

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Flip Album is not an 'organiser'

Flip Album does not help to physically organise a collection of picture files - rather, it is a 'Viewer' that allows you to take an organised view of a selected set of pictures. It allows the user to organise and arrange those pictures within a 'virtual album' regardless of how the files are physically organised or named. Naturally, a good storage method of the actual picture files, and a standardised Naming Convention, helps the user to achieve his goals more efficiently.

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