On Sequential Numbering

Sequential Photo Numbering

Ah, that pesky issue of sequential photo numbering.

Don’t have any idea what I’m talking about?

Did you know your digital camera sequentially numbers the file names for each picture you take?  It can if you play with the settings.  This means that, for example, the picture you take at 10am is numbered “IMG_5051″ and one you take later on that same day is numbered “IMG_5098.”

Why is this important?  When you transfer your photos to your hard drive, your computer will auto-arrange photos by file name.  At least mine does.  If they are sequentially numbered, then all the pictures you took at grandma’s house will neatly display in the order that you took them.

This is useful when you are flipping through pictures and even more useful when you are making things like slideshows.  True, there are programs that let you rearrange the order of photos in the slideshow.  But when I’m putting together a slideshow of photos to show family, it is usually at the last minute and I’m hurling photos into a folder for a DVD with no time for careful ordering.  Sequential numbering keeps everything together so all of my pictures of the Pyramids don’t get mixed throughout the show.

What if I clear my memory card?  What happens to sequential numbering?  This has always bothered me.  The numbering will reset.  Recently, I found myself on vacation with a husband who filled a 2-gig memory card in one day.  One day.   I cleared the card, backed up the photos on the computer, and the numbering reset.  And I cursed a bit.

How do I clear the card and keep sequential numbering?  Yes, you can have it both ways!  I conveniently discovered this after I got back from vacation.  Figures.  When you clear the card, clear everything except the last picture on the card.  Your camera will recognize it and will start numbering new pictures after that picture.

Note – this is how everything works on my camera.  Yours could be slightly different.

Interested in more tips including my 5-post series on photo organization?  Check out my Tips & Techniques page!

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10 thoughts on “On Sequential Numbering

    • I think it really does depend on the camera. But, I think it’s helpful to have the file names sequential as a fail-safe. My computer could probably arrange by date, but there’s no telling what the default is when you load them into a program to work with them. I use a couple of different programs for different things and they all handle it slightly different.

  1. Oh goodness, that’s never happened to me! Now I did have a problem when my SIL and I both bought new point and shoot cameras for our Disney trip, by the same MFG. When we combined photos, they all had the same extensions and we had to keep them in different folders until we could rename them. They would have erased each other. That was a pain! But luckily my camera always goes to the next number even when I clear out the memory. That’s a great tip though….I’ll remember that if I ever change cameras!

    • My goodness, I don’t know what I would do if had two competing sets like that! I’m still looking for a way to mass-change file name prefixes for a set of photos, so I can have photos numbered “France_001″ for example. I know some cameras may do that but I haven’t figured out how to do it on my computer yet.

  2. When we get home, we put all our pictures from all the chips into a folder and then sort them by “date taken” and then rename them all like this “Las Vegas (23)”. =)

  3. Select All, Then Right Click the first file, then click Rename. Once you name one, it will rename them all and add a number at the end automatically. You live in LA, right? I’d love to get together and scrap with you sometime and compare notes! We have so much in common!

    • Oooh! I’ll have to try that!!

      Nope, I live in the Bay Area actually. If I lived in LA I would totally love to scrapbook with you and compare! If you are ever up in my neck of the woods, you are welcome to come over!!

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