Updated: January 6, 2024 | Contains affiliate links

2 Easy Steps for Finding and Organizing Lost Digital Photos

This article outlines the steps for identifying pictures that have been misplaced on your hard drive. Many times I get pictures through our emails or from the web. It happens very often that I place these pictures in My Documents just because I want to look at them quickly and I don’t want to file them in the proper folder. After a while however, I end up with quite a few pictures being “lost” in the wrong places. This article will help you find them and identify them so you can move them to the appropriate folders. It is assumed that you are able to see the Date Picture Taken in your file browser. If not read the article Find Your Digital Photos.

Many times I talk to people that are overwhelmed by how many digital photos they have on their computer and how frustrated they are when they can’t find the photos they’re looking for. I sympathize because, I was frustrated as well until I started learning how to organize my own digital photos. One great benefit of being organized is knowing where things are. But what do you do when you want to start to get organized? How do you find lost digital photos and organize them?

1: Sort by “Date Picture Taken”.

Sort your image files by Date Picture Taken in Windows Explorer
Using the Windows Explorer on Windows or Finder on Mac, sort your digital photos by “Date Picture Taken”. This is the easiest way to identify all “floating” image groups. Use what you have done in Step 1 in order to sort and group all “floating” images. By clicking on the Date Picture Taken column header, you will group all the pictures according to the date when each picture was taken. Now you can easily spot the pictures taken during the same day.

2: Create a Folder for Each Group of Image Files

Create a folder for each group of digital photos

Let’s take a look at Group 1. Upon double clicking a few pictures of that group Mary quickly realizes that that was a church function that they attended way back in 2004. It was a church picnic at Freedom Park. The date when picture was taken value indicates it was on March 7, 2004. While the day is sometimes not very important the month certainly is. So, this folder will be called 04-03-07-church-picnic-freedom-park.

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When it comes to Groups 2 and 3 we notice that Date Picture Taken indicates that pictures were taken during two consecutive days. Actually, group 2 pictures show that they were taken very early in the morning which is usually highly unlikely. Most people don’t set the time on their camera when they buy it, and this is what happens when the camera was shipped with the wrong time zone set by default. When John double clicks on pictures from Group 2 and 3 he realizes that these pictures were taken at the company’s award ceremony that took place and Tony’s Restaurant. So, he creates a new folder and names it: 04-10-10-company-awards-tonys-rest

You MUST name your folders
as follows:
» 4 digits for the year
» 2 digits for the month
» 2 digits for the day(optional)
» event & place descriptions

Group 4 was a short trip to grandmother’s house for the weekend. So, we named that one: 04-10-23-trip-to-grandma. Group 5 turned out to be from the Internet. These were some nature pictures that Mary liked. Since these are not family pictures and don’t have a particular event or date associated with them, we called them: Internet. After all this activity, our pictures folder looks like the figure on the right. Notice that the folders we created are automatically sorted making them very easy to find and identify.

Essentials for organizing your digital photos

Here are the essential products and services I have come to rely on for many years to keep my media collection organized and safe. Even though these are affiliate links, I wholeheartedly recommend them.

Excellent Lightroom alternative. If you need a cheaper and simpler photo manager then ACDSee Photo Studio for Mac (save 20% until Feb 15th) or ACDSee Photo Studio Professional for Windows (save $20 until Feb 15th) is my preferred solution for organizing all my media. It has a very fast browser, great image editing and it's simple to use.

If you do a lot of image editing like I do, I recommend using Adobe Lightroom Classic CC via the annual Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Lightroom has best photo editing capabilities even though it has a steeper learning curve. Adobe Lightroom is my favorite for image editing.

I recommend Backblaze Personal Cloud Backup for affordable & reliable unlimited cloud backup. I have been using Backblaze for backing up all pictures & videos for more than 5 years now. All my invaluable digital memories are safe and secure. This is the best solution especially if you have a large quantity of media files.

Use a reliable & affordable external hard drive for backing up everything on your computer. It is absolutely essential for keeping all your memories backed up and safe.

Start organizing now using detailed, step-by-step instructions and videos:
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Reference book Basics book


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