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:

00-ORGANIZED
  01-TRANSFER (this is for all new pictures from your camera)
  02-FAMILY 
    2012
     2012-04-11-zoo-picnic

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.

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

Over 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.

YOURS FREE! 10 crucial steps most people miss when organizing their digital photos

Most people want to just organize their digital pictures and ignore these crucial steps right at the beginning...when they are shooting and transferring their digital pictures. Then they wonder why they can't organize their digital photos! Avoid most people's mistakes and start on the right track!

Start organizing now using detailed, step-by-step instructions and videos:
Personal Coaching (closed) Independent Course Private Lessons
Reference book Basics book Picasa book

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  1. Beverly

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