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6 easy ways to organize digital photos

Press pause on photo dumping and play on organizing your digital photos

Have you ever participated in a photo dump? Raise your hand. You have. It typically occurs on a dreary Sunday morning. The pitter-patter of the rain hitting the side of your house makes all of your other priorities seem so distant, and the choice to take out the trash, do laundry, and prepare lunches for the week doesn’t seem quite as crucial as uploading every single photo you’ve taken over the course of the last year. Yes… Every. Single. One. 

The importance of each photo you’re uploading is irrelevant. A photo of your husband and your son with his college diploma carries the same weight as a photo you accidentally took of your foot about 3 seconds prior to snapping the golden graduation shot that you want to print and put up on your refrigerator.

The goal of the photo dump is to simply upload all of your images on your phone to your computer all at once. Once this initial upload has happened, the idea is that you’ll eventually go back through these thousands of images and create a neat, organized filing system for them. The catch is that most people don’t. 

The time spent waiting for 12 months worth of photos from past vacations, holidays, birthdays, graduations, and weddings is exhausting. Not only are you sitting in front of a screen watching the progress bar load one percentage point at a time, but as your photos are uploading, you’re being constantly reminded of all of these beautiful memories that you made 52 weeks ago. Sound familiar?

Don’t fall into this trap. The next time you decide to do a photo dump (or better yet — the next time you upload your photos within a reasonable time frame), dedicate some time to creating a great organizational system for your digital photos. It will save you time and energy. Plus, you will be thankful you don’t have to mindlessly sift through your photos to find the family holiday card photo you took in Hawaii back in May.

Finding and implementing your favorite organizational method will take some trial and error. There is no one-size-fits-all solution because every person has different storage needs. Here are some tips to help you find the best way to organize your digital photos: 

  1. Store all your photos in one place

    This sounds obvious, but it actually may surprise you how many digital photos you have in various places. Some may be on your mobile device, some may be on your DSLR, some may be on an external hard drive, and some may be on your computer in numerous locations. According to Hewlett-Packard (HP), the first and most important step to best organizing your digital photos is establishing a digital photo hub (dph); a place where you are going to store all of your photos. HP also recommends this hub be easy to access, easy to back up, secure, and durable. 

    A few options for places to store your photos could be:

    • your computer (filing system by folders)
    • the Cloud
    • an external hard drive

    Whichever option you choose, be sure you are consistent in storing your photos to that same device every time you perform an upload.

  2. Rename your images

    Unless “DSC02061” means something to you, it’s imperative to effectively rename your images so you know what you’re looking at and how to search for it in the future.

    While there are many ways to rename photos, if you’re organizing your images by trip or event, you could use a generic structure like “Trip/Event_Date_Image #” (e.g., SanDiegoVacation_04.29.10_1) to differentiate between images versus renaming each individual image according to the specific moment it shares (e.g., SanDiegoVacation_Torrey Pines Hike_1). Although the second option preserves more details, it also requires more manual effort. If you have the time, go for it! The choice is yours, but rest assured there are other options that work just as well.

    And, if the thought of renaming your photos at all makes you sigh, there are some straightforward solutions that allow you change a batch of image file names all at once.

  3. Create folders

    Creating a system to organize your images into folders is one of the simplest ways to declutter your digital photo library. Using the file name you’ve given your images as a guideline, you can now create folders to best organize all of this information. You may choose to organize according to:

    • Year
    • Family member
    • Trip/Location
    • Event
    • Other

    The type of organizational style you choose to use is left to your discretion. This is where the fun part of organizing comes in. You know how your brain best receives, processes, and stores information, so use this knowledge to your advantage when you’re creating labels for your folders, and ultimately, a filing system for those folders. We’ll talk more about this in the next tip.

  4. Find a filing system that works for you

    Once you create folders, you can determine the hierarchical order in which they should be categorized. You may choose to keep your system simplistic and perhaps just organize your photos by year. Under this system, all of the photos you take in one year will be stored in one folder. If you’d like to get more specific, you can create subfolders to place under your main folder. For instance, if you’re sorting by year, you could have a main folder labeled “2019” and then subfolders for events or trips, such as “Rome, Italy.” You could also take it a step further and separate images by year, month, and then event or trip. So the navigation to get to those same photos from your visit to Rome would be “2019➡️October➡️Rome, Italy.”

    This type of categorical labeling system can be reduced or expanded depending on how technical you’d like to get. There is no right or wrong system — only the one that best suits your needs and will make it easiest for you to search through and locate photos in the future.

  5. Keep up with uploads

    Remember the photo dump? Get rid of that urge. Upload photos in smaller waves to avoid having to pair a large photo upload with a large organizational project. Once again, there are a number of different systems that work for different people. One suggestion would be to upload your photos within a specific time frame following a trip or event. Set a deadline for yourself. For example, if you plan to upload all the photos from your best friend’s wedding within a week of the ceremony, stick to that commitment.

  6. Invest in a digital photo organizer

    Life can be busy, especially when you’re hard at work capturing it from behind a camera lens. If you’re the photographer, you may not have time to be the organizer too, and that’s okay. It’s perfectly normal to ask for help, and Rosy may be just the solution that you’re searching for. The Rosy Home console and Rosy Go app can act as a digital photo organizer that will allow you to easily categorize all your digital photos just the way you like, including tags for people and places and the option to search through photos using voice commands. In fact, the more you use her, the more she becomes accustomed to your way of thinking! Pretty cool, right?

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If you’re interested in syncing up with Rosy, join our waitlist for the Rosy Go app, launching soon.