Updated: August 25, 2017 | Contains affiliate links

Simple steps for organizing your existing digital photo collection

I have written recently about the best hardware setup for your photo storage devices. But what do you do if you have multiple external hard drives full of duplicate pictures and your internal hard drives are also completely unorganized? Well, I have created a simple procedure or checklist that you can go through if you want to organize all your photo storage devices and eliminate all your duplicate images. It’s a tedious job with a great feeling of satisfaction at the end. So, read on to get started and organize your digital photo storage.

Create a “clean” area containing your new and organized digital photos

On the internal hard drive establish an area that would be the “clean” area. This means you create a folder…create it in My Pictures so it’s obvious and call it 00-ORGANIZED. This is where you start building your folders with pictures that have been organized.

Create the correct folder structure in the “clean” area.

Create the folder structure I suggest in my BIG book…so something like this:

  01-TRANSFER (this is for all new pictures from your camera)

Organize your “unorganized” digital photos

Start combing through the pictures on your internal hard drive first and get those squared away. Your goal here is to go folder by folder and rename them using this convention: year-month-day-place-short-description. You can get the date when a group of pictures was taken by displaying the “Date Picture Taken” field in Windows Explorer or the equivalent on Mac. This will be very very tedious.

I would not use Picasa for this tedious operation…I would use a fast software that works well with folders…something free like FastStone Image Viewer or XnView.

Move “organized” digital photo folders into the “clean” area

Then move it to the appropriate folder in the CLEAN section. You can fire up Picasa and use it to make sure you don’t have duplicates…even though the folder names in your CLEAN section will immediately give you a clue if you have duplicates.

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At this point in Picasa you can add keywords to the newly organize folders…if you have the time. This will make it more tedious but can help in the long run.

Organize your pictures from the external hard drives

After finishing your internal hard drive…move to one of the external ones and start cleaning that up by identifying and moving picture folders to the new CLEAN section on your hard drive.

Make the “clean” area your only digital photo storage area

Now that you have cleaned up everything and gotten rid of your duplicates it’s time to get rid of the 00-ORGANIZED folder. So copy everything under 00-ORGANIZED under My Pictures and remove the 00-ORGANIZED folder.

Setup a backup schedule

Once you finish one external hard drive, use it to setup a backup strategy…which you’ll find in the last part of my book. You can use SyncBack to create a backup schedule that will backup your My Pictures folder.

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 or ACDSee Photo Studio Professional for Windows 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:
Personal Coaching (closed) Independent Course Private Lessons
Reference book Basics book


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