I am not sure about the history of peanut butter and jelly. I am pretty sure that nobody at that time was thinking to combine the two. So how did it get so popular? Probably somebody in some kitchen somewhere has combined the two ingredients, most likely by accident, and they liked it and told their friends. Tags and folders are two methods of organizing pictures that many think don’t go together. This article will show that they can be used together to create a very efficient organization structure.
What’s the big deal?
For a while I kept thinking that tags and folders are mutually exclusive, meaning that if you use tags you can’t be using folders and vice versa. The articles I would read and the comments I would receive on this site all suggested that this is the case. At that time I wrote Tags vs. Folders with that in mind. After a while though I realized that tags and folders could actually work together and I wrote the short article called Tags and Folders are not mutually exclusive.
The more I thought about the issue however the more I realized that tags can actually be used very effectively as part of folder names. This means that when you create a folder to contain pictures from an event and you name that folder date-place_description (read this article to learn how to create precise folder names) you can actually include tags in the folder names.
As I indicated before you would want to use tags if you want your pictures to appear in more than one category. Generally, even though easy to use, folders are one dimensional, meaning that once you create a folder you can only place pictures onetime in the folder. Unless you copy the picture in multiple folders you can’t have the same picture be associated with multiple categories. This is why tags are useful and powerful.
An example of using folders with tags
Let’s say that today March 31 you take your dad out for his birthday at a restaurant called Macaroni Grill. You go there have a good time and take some pictures. You then come home eager to see your pictures and you download all of the pictures into a folder called:
08_03_31-Macaroni_Grill_dad_birthday_retirement (see why it makes sense to name your folders like this).
The date part is simple and so is the place part. You can easily search for the date and the place anytime you want and you should have no problem finding this folder. How about the rest of the folder name? Well…these are some keywords that would help me refine my search even further. What if I have a birthday party for my dad every year and I want to find all of them without me having to remember when my dad’s birthday is. If I have these keywords inserted in the folder name…then it would be simple. I would go to the standard Search utility and type
"dad birthday" and then all the folders that contain this in the name will show up.
So this is how you can add keywords (tags) within your folder names. You have to name your folders anyway and doing it this way will help you a lot in the long run.
What’s the catch?
There are essentially two potential problems with adding tags within folder names: folder names could be very long, and keyword consistency.
Adding many keywords will make your folder name very long. But if you limit yourself to three to five keywords you should be fine. The key to keywords (tags) is to be consistent and develop a set of tags that would be used for all folders. But these issues will be the subject of another article.
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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.
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.
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