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How To Organize Pictures On Your Computer

Tips for organizing pictures on your computer by a professional organizer. Steps are broken down and easy to follow with simple descriptions.

I have wanted to write this post for a while, but I have been dragging my feet on writing it.  Why?  Well, because I actually need to do what I am telling you to do in order to get all my pictures organized on my computer.

Like, I have to actually take the time to look at ALL the adorable pictures of my kiddos on my computer, and sort them into files.

While walking down memory lane is a super-fun way to spend time, it’s also quite daunting.

If you don’t know me well-enough yet, I won’t write something that I don’t actually do.  I don’t roll that way.  So if I say that you should get your pictures organized on your computer, you bet your tush I will do the same. So here I go!

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Now, where to start when you have over 11,000 pictures on your computer ? I’m not counting the pictures I have on an external hard drive! Read on for some easy steps to organize pictures on the computer!

Step 1: Create Folders

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Start by creating some general folders within your photo library as a quick “dumping space.”  I started by creating folders for each family member.  These folders are where I put all our selfies and individual photos of each family member.  I also created a folder for the dog, because I take a lot of pictures of him, too!  And I created an album that will hold pictures of both kids together.

Step 2: Start Moving Pictures into Family Folders

Start at the very beginning of your photo library and start adding pictures of your family into the different family albums.  If you are using iPhoto, just drag your picture into the designated album.  You can also click “command” and select multiple photos to drag and drop into an album.

Step 3: Add Folders As You Go

As you start going through photos, you might find that you have some holidays, events, or other groupings of photos that will go together.  Add folders as you go with the different topics together.

If I notice that there are multiple people in a photo, I might move that photo into two different albums so I can find it easily.  It’s like cross-referencing your photos!

Step 4: Delete, Delete, Delete

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As you start to go through pictures, you might find some really bad pictures.  Like pictures your kids took on your phone that are now on your computer, because of “the cloud”.  Delete those pictures if they aren’t cute or funny.

My son likes to take pictures of the carpet so I had a roll of like 12 photos of his carpet in his bedroom.  I just deleted them all so they aren’t taking up space on my computer!  Honestly wouldn’t have known they were there unless I started to clean them out!

Step 5: Keeping It Up

This entire process might take time.  Like a few days (or weeks).  I will be honest, I am still working on organizing the pictures!  But it feels soooooo good to have them started!

Now, when I upload new photos, I will just drop those few into the different folders so I don’t have to keep spending large amounts of time organizing my photos.

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My goal is to slowly, but consistently, put the photos into folders and delete all unwanted photos.  And I will print off some photos!  I have been so bad about printing off photos because it was too overwhelming, but now that they are (mostly) organized, I can see what cute pictures I have of our family!

Now there are a few programs that you can use to keep your photos organized, but I have found that organizing pictures on computer is the best option for me. So my challenge to you is to start organizing your pictures on your computer.  Follow the steps above to help you get started!

 

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30 thoughts on “How To Organize Pictures On Your Computer”

  1. I have picasa as photo program and I’d like to use something else . Any suggestions for a better program I should look into?

    1. Some of my favorites are chatbooks (because you get the actual print book without even thinking about it), or just create folders in dropbox to organize them (similar style to an actual photo box with categories). Hope that helps!

  2. Hey Jess! Love your blog! I have my photos on my computer but am thinking of backing them up. Any ideas on where/how to back them up? The thought of it is so daunting! Thanks!

    1. Great question! I don’t have a one-size-fits-all when it comes to backing them up. I personally use an external hard drive. My husband uses Drop Box. I have recommended to clients to store in other places as well, like Shutterfly!

      1. Loved this article! I use forever.com to save, organize, and share my photos. It’s so user friendly too. Let me know if you’d like more info.

  3. I have oh feet 44000 pics organized and EVERY photo named! I have been doing this since 2005 but did not start renaming each photo till 2014. I was organizing by year month and then date. But just a couple weeks ago I saw somebody show a different folder structure so I have switched mine all up. Now it is so much easier when you remember a photo for me to go find it because who remembers the actual date they took it on but you remember the experience. So you have to come up with a folder structure that makes sense in your mind for it to work the best for you. But thanks to Linda Sattgast my phone pictures have being being renamed since 2014 and that made them easier to put into my new folder structure.

  4. Falling in love with your blog day by day, I am searching for Digital photo frame that sync with my laptop via Wifi. any suggestion?. I fed up with old static photo frames.

  5. I started organizing my photos in 2000. I inherited my parents and grandparents photos and have spent much time scanning and dating each photo. My earliest photo is 1904. I like the file system I created very similar to the one described in this blog. I also created files for Christmas by the year and vacations by year. My son (51) called the other day from a gathering of friends and said do you have a photo John, Matt and I in high school. I could immediately go to his file, look through his timeline of photos and send him a few of the best right to his phone.
    Many of my friends have used naming software so they just enter a name and all photos come up of that person. Whatever works for you is the way to go.

  6. This is an interesting blog, as I have tried various method and software for organising my photographs. As I have upwards of 20,000 photos it is a big task and needs good reliable hardware and software. Originally I thought that all that I needed to do was to create lots of named folders. That didn’t help a lot as I found that many photos showed several different subjects of interest, say………place, person and action. I needed a database. I soon got bogged down there because I am not much of a programmer, maybe I could find a ready made system. A little snag here was that I run a Linux operating system which I find much more stable than Windows and much cheaper that Apple. I recommend Manjaro.

    Found some software called Shotwell, really a specialised database which allowed me to view photograph, add keywords to them and then call them back to the screen based on which keyword(s) I searched. It worked very well, but was not unduly stable, quite often crashing for unknown reasons. Worse, it lost data and sometimes even photos. Next I tried ACDSee, another database program which I paid good money for. I didn’t get it to work even once, on linux or Windows.

    Then I found Digikam which did everything perfectly and included a photo editor, Showfoto, which can improve your results almost incredibly. It is a bit complex to learn, but it has a pretty comprehensive manual which needs quite a bit of study. But the results, when you acquire the nack are fast, reliable and satisfying. I hope that helps.

  7. I I’m glad I logged into this thanks for all the advice I have so many photos that I need to organize this gives me hope that I might succeed thank you for all your

  8. I go through your list it gives valuable information. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best article.
    Thanks for sharing this article.

  9. Can you suggest a few photo software similar to Google Photos, which can help in identifying photos (like trees/people/flowers/monuments etc), and hence can be used to organize according to a user need. I want to download & Install the software, personally on my computer and not on cloud etc.
    It will be very helpful.
    Thank You

    1. The Organized Mama

      Hi there! I use Google Photo or iPhoto which is what I recommend. I am unsure of any other program that can identify things to help organize. I am sorry!

  10. This is a great article and great read for me. It’s my first visit to your blog, and I have found it so useful and informative especially this article.

  11. I myself up until 2009 was still printing photos and adding them to photo book. I started with a regular camera and took to many digital and somehow forgot where my last print job ended.
    There was a reason because i started to create folders on computer and Myspace started and I was so busy uploading and sharing photos thru social media took time. I also had Vista I think it was Windows new version. I miss it so much. Photo Gallery is where all the photos showed up. On top of the web browser you click fix and a drop down menu on right side has (red eye, crop, 2 different lighting effects) I used the red eye a lot and when you have very dark pics do not delete if you fix the brightness and other lighting effect the picture will show up. You can also tag photos. The best part is if i remember right if you click on the bottom left and display all programs you click on a link sort of like windows media so maybe it was windows gallery. Anyways on the left side a column list all tags in alphabetical order which is awesome, Then below that all the years starting with the earliest year a photo was taken. Not only that you click a year and all the months show up. I have had a few computers and many usb flash drives. so many pics are the same on all these devices and i wanted so bad to get vista on my computer so I can download all my devices and have one file of everyrthing in chronicle order with one back up. I also liked the red eye fixer was one click I tried on what I have now and everything is a mess. I have a folder that says cell pics and the day I download as a reference. Next time igo to cell phone since i have so many pics and scrolling down will take forever. I select all copy and paste. a dialog bar will tell you of how many duplicates and if you want to replace previous one. Click no keep what you have and ignore duplicates but be sure to check mark the button at bottom asking you to do the same for all other duplicates. Then you are finished now be sure to change folder date to current date. I a couple of years ago when I had the time create a sub folder and copy photos to their and then create folders. I have to keep the first download current never deleting anything so i won’t be dublicating photos

  12. Let me just say, for the younger generation starting out with their families. You’d be wise to start and keep up with organizing your photos all the time. It gets out of control quickly and easily. If nothing else, make sure you date photos when things occur. You think you’ll remember and you won’t. 🙁

    If you don’t have time to really organize them all, at least put your kid’s school photos in a binder by year so they are in order as well as protected. You can start there and do more as you go. Life is busy and goes by so fast and before you know, you’ve got a monster job on your hands.

    Organizing photos is a huge project! I’ve spent hours on it and will spend hours more. I’m scanning and saving many of my photos to an external hard drive and will have another external hard drive as the back-up. Actually, I save everything on my PC to an external hard drive so if my PC crashes I’ve still got my files. I’ve lost too much stuff over the years that I’m not willing to take a chance any more.

    I’ve started with the year I was born and add to my own life files as I find photos as well as when my children were born. I am organizing them by year, including the actual date on each photo if I know it (which I don’t always). Within each year, I have a folder with each of their names, both of their names, my name, family, animals & friends. Within those folders I’m including sub-folders for school, birthday parties, vacations, events, etc.

    I have scanned all of their school photos into each year so I can keep track of what year they were in which grade and will also include all extra curricular activities. Other activities will also be included, however, I’m putting anything school related into the school folder with sub-folders. I’ve decided for this particular project, to go up through college graduation.

    I’ve scrapbooked a bit through the years and would eventually like to do more. If I get burned out, they’ll be lucky to get them in photo albums and / or photo boxes. 🙂 I’ve got photos and negatives (remember those?) in so many places. I’ve also purchased a digital film scanner that takes an SD card, so I can get photos off of my negatives and add them to my PC and external hard drive. I’m so happy we’re in the digital age!! It makes life with photos so much easier. I also use Google Photos and Amazon Photos.

    1. The Organized Mama

      I love all of this Julie! It is so true that we have to start and just keep up with it all because it can be so much!

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