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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Adobe Photoshop Elements 3

The current version of Elements includes an integrated Organizer feature, which can be used to download digital images from your camera or card reader (or scanner). It places the images in a date-stamped folder and loads the thumbnails into a database catalog that can be easily searched by date or using subject tags. It will also search your computer for image files and place them in the catalog. The editing capabilities of this program are also very powerful, but if you just want the organizing capablities, download Adobe Photo Album Starter edition -- it offers the database catalog functionality of Elements Organizer, and it's free:

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I don't think using Windows XP is so dumb either.

I'm an organizer-type person, and I think using XP is a straightforward and simple way to organize pictures without adding any extra software to my already full hard drive.

However,I don't just have one single file with all the pictures jumbled up in there. That one "Picture" file is subdivided into smaller files. I like to create monthly files: "January 2005", and "February 2005", etc. At the end of the year I go through and eliminate all but the best, and with those I create a more condensed yearly file: "Best Pics 2004", for example.

I burn them to discs quarterly, so that I have 4 discs a year: "Winter 2005", etc. so the eliminated ones aren't lost forever, and if my computer crashes I can put them back.

Oh, and I didn't read through every response, but I did not see anyone mention the best thing about using Windows to organize your photos: The slide show screen saver. When you mentioned that your mom likes to look at your pics when she comes over, that prompted me to answer in this thread because every time my mom comes over she heads straight for the desk and sits down to watch my screen saver!

To set it up just go to My Computer or Start, click on Control Panel, then Appearance and Themes, then Choose a Screen Saver. In the window that comes up, under Screen Savers, scroll down until you find My Pictures Slide Show. Click on it, and then click Apply. Then go to Settings, and browse to find your picture folder where it says Use Pictures in This Folder. You can play around with the other settings; how big you want them (I choose 100% of the screen), and how long you want each one up, etc. Then click OK, and you should be all set.

Then your pictures are getting used and seen every day instead of hidden away in some file folder somewhere. Everyone who comes to my house is all thrilled with the whole idea! Now if we could only sit in comfort on the couch and see it on the big screen lol. (I think my next project is making slide shows on our xbox).

: ) melinda

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I also should mention:

I was told by a tech support person to rename the "My Documents", "My Pictures"s, etc. folders. Then in the event the computer crashes, if I can do a non-destructive recovery, Windows won't automatically re-write over the top of them with new "My Documents" files, and I will still have them.

This advice did, indeed turn out to be true in the event of a Non Destructive recovery. But it will not help if you have to do a Destructive recovery, so good backup is still essential.

: ) melinda

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Microsoft Clip Organizer

If you have Office 2003, you can use the MS Clip Organizer.

Start>Program Files>MS Office>MS Office Tools>MS Clip Organizer

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Finding your Piccies

Hi Dusty, one of the best programs id Picasa it will find all the piccies you have on your computer, no worries about that.

Jock. Melbourne. Australia

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Kodak has free EasyShare Software too

Personally, I copy my files from our cameras directly to the hard drive to their own folder based on year and event. Then I back them up to CDs.

But if you wanted to collect and organize your photos, Kodak has a free download called EasyShare. It lets you build albums, edit and fix common problems, and print. You can print locally to your own printer, or buy silver halide prints from Kodak. You can also upload your pictures to the Kodak Gallery, where you may share them with your friends.

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start from scratch...

I agree with those before me who think it's better to keep your computer as organized as possible. That way there is no question where files are, and they are easy to back up onto discs. (ALWAYS back up any files you are not willing to lose!!)

Remember: If you use Windows' search function to locate your scattered photos and then just paste/move all photo files into ONE folder (My Pictures) for starters, there is a risk that you'll get messages like "A file with that name already exists? Overwrite?". If you haven't named your photos to unique names, then there's a big risk that some files would get overwritten/lost. DON'T OVERWRITE if your files have automatically generated names such as img002, img003, etc. Better to make a few sub-folders according to category and select/paste photos loosley according to your categories. Later you can open 'explorer' (view each folder as thumbnails) and rename & sort further into folders... Better to be safe then sorry.

(If your storage folder already isn't customized as an Image Preview folder, you can customize that under VIEW - Customize Folder in the Explorer menu. This will give an added slideshow feature to each folder. And, as someone suggested, you can use windows screensaver to show photos. That's a nice idea to display photos, without 'actively starting a program.)

I sometimes use XnView (also free!) to view my photos and images. It's similar to IrfanView in that it does not re-organize your images. It displayes them as they are already organized on your drive. Sure, you can sort files according to name, size etc, but the folders stay the same. I like to have my folders stay the same, no matter what program I use. I want to be in control, not confused. XnView also lets you batch rename, edit using contrast, red eye, trim, do slideshows etc. I don't NEED it for editing, I use Photoshop for that, but it's nice and easy for quick viewing & editing, and it has some nice features like "Burn selected photos to disc", and "convert files".

If you DON'T want to keep track of your files and have them stored in an organized way, then by all means get Picasa or other program to collect and "visually organize" your photos... You'd still have an unorganized harddrive underneath, however. (That's be like sweeping your kitchen floor and hiding the dirt under the rug).

My advise is: Take the time to do it right. Start from scratch. Sure it's tedius at first to get organized, but then it's easy to keep up.
And, as you add more pictures from your camera, remember to name and store them according to your category/date, and BACK UP your photos once in a while.

(I also save my original photos to an ORIGINALS folder before i start editing them, and later i burn those originals (together with those edited versions that i like) onto a cd for safe keeping... (Perhaps one day you need the original for an enlargment, and then your editied and 4x6 trimed copy won't do. Voil

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Keeping your fotos organized.

here are some useful tips for organizing photo.

Whenever you scan a photo if you use a scanner, or if you have a digital camera and download them to your
PC, there?s a program in the Office Suite called Windows Picture Manager that collects every photo you have in the computer. There you can view your photos and you can even edit them. When you are done editing them you can save them in your Doccuments, either in your Albums, or in your images or your scans. If you like you can keep them in separate folders, but myself y prefer keeping them in different CD?s, there you can organize them by different subjects, for instance, Our Dogs, Our Wedding, our Vacations Trips, etc. With the advantage also, that if your hard drive
goes and you have to formate it and loose all of your photos, it?s easy to recover them.

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No Free Lunch

Your ability to find photos (or any file, for that matter) will always depend on the amount of effort you put into organization in the first place. As great as Picassa is, it is still up to you to add info to pics to _allow_ the organization to take place.
My desire to find photos in the unknown future employs a few tricks which may be useful to you. They all involve nothing outside Windows Explorer (not to be confused with Internet Explorer).
(1) Have a folder called "Chrono" or similar. Sub-directories are all given names like "2005.08.05-Mother's Dentures". The idea is to have the standard sort produce a chronological list of folders in which appropriate pics are stored.
(2) But what about subject ordering? I do that as well. Some pics stay in the chronological folders and some are in subject matter folders; in the latter case, I simply put a link (shortcut) to the subject matter folder in the chronological folder This allows me to be lazy (just use the dated folder) when I want to be.
(3) Use more links in the subject matter folders to get between alternate storage places.
(4) To make it easy for your mother, make a folder called "Pics For Ma" and put a link to it on your desktop. In the folder place shortcuts to the photos you want her to see.
I know this is not as simple as you had hoped but, as I implied above, you can have it simple on one end (putting them on your disk) or simple at the other end (retrieving them) but not both. Nullum Prandium Gratuitum Est!

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Fancy Photo Manager from LuminousParrot

I'm a bit late, but I haven't seen anyone mention DREAM-in-PICTURES from

I don't know if it is the simplest out there, but it may very well be the most fanciest and creative.

The picture gallery is very neat if your computer can handle it. Wink

But I won't bother writing much as I see the good folks here have written a page full of fine advice.


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Yet Another Addition (FREE! from MAGIX)

Boy are there a lot of choices!
Personnally, I use ACDSee 7 but another good free choice if MAGIX's Photo Manager which can be found here:

You can also sign up for a free online Photo Album WebPage and upload right from the program!

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Webshots to organize as a screensaver

I personally used webshots to organize and create my Nascar screensaver, it can be a little difficult to setup, for the newbie user.
And you will definately want to take it out of startup. It uses system resources to do GOD only knows what, even when the screensaver isn't running if it is in windows startup. Taking it out of startup was simple enough though.
I don't think it had spyware in it, but if it did, the spyware is gone now, but the screen saver is still operational. The screen saver I built has 128 pictures in it that all cycle randomly, this might be a good option if you want to build a screen saver out of your photos.
Just a suggestion!

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How I store my photos

Programs came with my computer to do this but I couldn't figure them out I thought they were confusing.
I am married, have 5 kids and 14 grand kids and lots of photos..
Here is what I do.I use XP Home and no outside software.
I open My Photos make folders. Hubby and me. Each of 5 kids have their own. Inside there are folders for each of their kids.
I do the same with my family and put a folder for all my bro and sis in there.
And for hubbys family I have another folder with folders for his bro and sis.
Then I have folders one I call Out My Window those are photos I took either out my window or around town.
One is called River Shots ( that is where we vacation while camping)
One for Flowers
one for Crafts etc.
Everytime I download my pictures from my HP camera it puts them in a folder with the date on it. I open each photo in Photoshop Elements resize or fix if I have to and then Save As and put it in the right folder and delete the HP one and everything is nice and neat and I can open My Photos and see just the folder I want to look at or put a photo in.
Not fancy but very easy......and it works for me.

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That's the best way; Also Ulead is nice to edit with...

Now that everyone's stopped arguing, I think anyone can see that all are "ideas and tips", and easy to one can be hard to another; In the end, the "MORE" suggestions gives a much better chance to do like Bill Shatner on those stupid commercials he's on and compare BEFORE you buy(heehee!)
In the end, it's always 'easier' with the 'least' amount of software necessary, and since "My Pictures" IS the default folder for most programs on MOST systems, it's the logical place and way to store.
I personally store thousands of JPG's, BMP's, GIF's and others on my drive, and in my case I do not want mine sorted by date or name, but by association or type. It's elementary to go into My Pictures and make all the 'empty' folders that you might possibly need first, according to your own preference of storage. Then 'move' your pics into the'My Pics' and then into the corresponding folders.
Afterwards, whenever you add more pics to the drive, place them where you want them in My Pictures/**folder, and you can easily find whatever kind of pic you want; Animal pics won't be mixed with people pics and EVERYTHING ELSE!!, and so on. If you want to see family pics, just open your "Family Pic" folder, and so on.
I have personally used Ulead Photo Explorer and Ulead Photoimpact for years; I'm surprised no one mentioned them, as I have always found them to be relatively simple to use, especially with the "Hints" the program gives you all the time. There's so much you can do with them, too. The explorer is great for simple editing, while the Photoimpact is great for getting down and dirty with them. You can get free versions of them at the Ulead site, too, I believe. I also use Jasc Paint Shop Pro, too.
There's definitely plenty to choose from here, though, as everyone's ideas have their merits. In the end, it's up to the individual.
Good Luck, & Later all!
Rock n Roll!

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I agree

I think the conversation is kind of like I always said about fried chicken. You can get 100 people to fry it and it will taste 100 different ways and they can all be good...
My Pictures just worked when I could't figure out those picture studios that came with my computer. I uninstalled.
Like you said I have folders that suit me. I have my side of the family and in there I have my mom and dads folder and all my bro and sis have their own folder in that one. I do the same for hubbys family.
One for him and I in there are the ones for each of our kids. etc.
Fire Department
Anyway they are all right there in My Photos I don't have any photos anywhere else... That has just worked for me.
But it someone else might not like that there are programs you can run to help....
Good thread though.........Janet

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Thanx for the Agreement

Anyone using a computer, and I don't mean just for email, should be at least skilled enough to be able to read My Pictures, make folders, subfolders and the like. Thanks very much for agreeing with me and I appreciate to the maximum your use of proper English. If they can't find the folder My Pictures, then all they have to do is look at the top of the page and see the camera with Photos under it. Peoiple try and make things more difficult than they should be. Why use a program that does nothing more than that used by Windows is beyond me. Unless a person's a professional then any and all of those other programs just take up hard drive space.

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I have not seen this mentioned explicitly in this discussion thread so I will do so.

As soon as you get back from your shooting session and BEFORE you do anything else, copy all of your pictures (good, bad, or extremely lousy) to a CD or DVD. Make 2 copies. This protects you in case anything goes very bad while you are working on your pictures.

Once you are done with your picture workflow, do not store the only copies of your pictures on your computer. Again, copy everything to an external device and make two copies. If you are totally paranoic (sp?), keep each copy in a different place to avoid loss of all your pictures in case your house floods or burns down.

Label all of your archival disks so that if you disappear off the face of the earth, your heirs can figure out what they have inherited.

All of this may sound obvious but how many of us have actually done it.


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Coupon code for free prints

I use for my digital prints and stroage. If you sign up for free at use (case sensitive) as your friends e-mail address and you will recieve 20 free prints and 5 more for each new customer who uses your e-mail as their friend.

(No limit of the ammount of freebies that you can rack up)

Enjoy and pass along

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