There are two main approaches to organizing your pictures. The first one is done by you, the user, using the folders structure managed by your Operating System (OS). The second one is done by some piece of software that arranges your pictures automatically (i.e Picasa). This debate is quite old and I don’t understand why it keeps going. One reason is users who are afraid of their computers and they believe all the claims of software producers…”automatically sort your pictures”, “find your pictures immediately with one click” and other similar claims. Well, I’ll try to clarify the debate.
You organize your digital pictures
- You look at your pictures and determine what category it goes into (i.e. Family, Friends, Church, Children…)
- You create each folder and name it so that you will be able to identify it later.
- You place the folders you create in the appropriate categories you have defined.
- You control your own pictures.
Software organizes your digital pictures
- Software needs some automatic information present in the picture. Most software packages use Date Picture Taken in order to automatically organize your pictures.
- Some software packages give you the ability to customize the automatic organization of your pictures. However this ability is very limited…simply because you don’t decide how each automatic category is being created.
- This approach works at first when you have just a few pictures but it becomes completely unmanageable in the long run (1 to 2 years).
- You still have to go and create categories and tags to help the software to categorize your pictures, but those categories represent information that you don’t see in the folder structure on your hard disk…it is only kept in the software package. This means that if yo don’t use that software you can’t see the categories you have defined. This is really bad.
There’s no debate really
For me there is no debate…you have to organize your own pictures! There is no software in the world to read your mind so any automatic organization will not work for you in the long run and it will make you very frustrated. The only drawback is that you have to put some time and effort into naming your file folders. For an easy step-by-step method on how to organize your pictures read the following article:
Organize your digital photos in five easy steps.
Essentials for organizing your digital photosOver the years I have come to rely on only a few products for managing and backing up my large media collection. These are my essential products and services I have been using for many years to keep things organized and safe. Even though these are affiliate links, I wholeheartedly recommend them.
I recommend using Adobe Lightroom Classic CC via the annual Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Lightroom has excellent photo editing capabilities. Yes, Lightroom has a steeper learning curve as you have to learn to keep your catalogs in sync with your hard drive. However, Adobe Lightroom makes most sense especially when you do lots of image editing.
If you don't like the subscription, you can get also download the last standalone Adobe Lightroom 6 for Mac or Windows (while it is still available). However, the product is no longer maintained by Adobe.
Excellent Lightroom and Picasa alternative. If you're looking for a cheaper and simpler photo manager then ACDSee Photo Studio for Mac or ACDSee Pro for Windows is my preferred solution for organizing your media on your computer. It has a very fast browser, beautiful image editing capabilities and you don't work with catalogs at all.
In addition, make sure you have an inexpensive and reliable external hard drive for backing everything up. It is absolutely essential for backing up your media regularly.
If you're looking for a reliable unlimited cloud backup service, I recommend Backblaze Cloud Backup. I have used Backblaze for my online backup for more than 3 years now. All my files are safe and secure and I have never had any problems with them.