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Right now, I have 22,000 pictures on my hard drive.  Twenty-two thousand.  Now you understand why it’s important to purge.  Here are some advanced techniques.

This is part 4 in a series about organizing your photos.  Miss earlier parts?  Visit Part 1 – Non-Digital Prints, Part 2 – Organize as You Go and Part 3 – Take Control of Your Hard Drive.


Tag photos across collections:  I keep my pictures organized by event.  What if I want to look at all the pictures of flowers I’ve ever taken?  Or food? Or all Christmas pictures?  Enter tagging.  It’s the same thing as tagging downloaded music by genre.

Most free photo programs come with tagging capability.  The best part?  Tags live with the file and carry across programs.  So if I tag photos all of my food photos using Windows Photo Gallery, I can search for “food” in Picasa and they will all pop up.

Not sure how to tag photos?  Explore the photo program you use – it will be there!  Still not sure?  You can add tags by changing the metadata, see below.


Right-click your photos:  That is, if you are on a PC.  Macs also have very similar metadata capabilities.  Right-click on a photo, select “Properties” and then click “Details.”  Each photos have all sorts of spaces for you to enter information:

What if you want to add some of the same information to a big set of photos?  Easy.  Select all of the photos, right-click to “Properties” and “Details” again.  Any changes you make now will carry across all the photos you selected.

Below, I selected all the pictures I took in Chicago recently, added a title and some information in the comments section.  This is a great way to organize your thoughts if you won’t scrapbook these until later on.

Thanks Natalie for reminding me about metadata!

In the Long Run

Think about purging in the long run:  Once the dust settles, take some time to go through your pictures again.  This could be a few months or even a year later.  I make one final purge as I scrapbook.  I have a pretty good idea of which pictures are important by then.  I don’t delete every picture I don’t use, but I try to thoughtfully trim in order to conserve space.

BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS!  I can’t emphasize this enough.

If your photos just live on your hard drive, you are living on borrowed time! 

I keep a master folder of photos on my hard drive and a copy of everything on an external hard drive.  External hard drives aren’t very expensive:  my 1 terabyte external drive cost $60.  My pictures are worth much more than that.

Have a DVD burner?  If you aren’t in the market for an external hard drive, consider burning your photos to DVD’s.  Keep in mind that DVD’s don’t last forever and can go stale.  Make sure the load them and check on them every couple of years.

For super duper important pictures, consider making several DVD’s and giving them to your family.  We made 5 copies of our wedding pictures and gave them to immediate family members just in case anything happens to ours.

I hope you’ve learned everything you’ve ever wanted to know about photo organization these last two weeks!  Have questions?  Email me anytime at almostneverclever [at] gmail [dot] com.

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