Picture, pictures everywhere, but not a one to find…

If you are like me and capture digital pictures in almost every circumstance, the frustration of organizing all of these has crossed your mind once or twice. Two common options are (1) installing software on your computer to help keep track or (2) uploading all your pictures to an Internet site like Flickr. With the first option, the software to organize your pictures is likely to require you to open its user interface (i.e. application) to manage your pictures, and you will be responsible for transferring this application to another computer when you upgrade. With the Internet upload option, which I partially use, the idea of having all your pictures labeled, grouped, and constantly backed up does have its advantages; however, I’m not a big fan of uploading every picture I’ve ever taken out on the Internet. (Call me old-fashioned.) In both cases, there’s likely to be a license or subscription to purchase.

To alleviate this image nightmare, I’ve created a simple and free system for organizing and tagging pictures that allows for easy searching and backing up. This involves creating a directory/folder structure in Explorer similar to the following.

Directory structure for pictures

Each year has a folder, and within each year, there are groups of pictures with keywords as the name of the sub folder. Note that the beginning of each sub folder is a number, which indicates the month the picture was taken. This provides chronological searching, since the folders are sorted in order.

Setting thumbnails in Explorer

To group the pictures in Explorer, you can see a small preview of the picture on your hard drive or the memory chip from your camera by setting Explorer to show the Thumbnails view. If the preview isn’t enough to determine which folder to place the picture, moving your mouse pointer over the picture in question will provide additional details. If you are like me, I often have a set of pictures with the same date and relative time, which makes it easy to figure what goes where.

Picture properties via mouse-over

The benefits of this system are that it’s super easy to do while moving the pictures from the camera’s memory chip to your computer. Just create the folder on your hard drive with some memorable words, and drag the pictures into the folder. In addition, it makes backing up the pictures easy as well, since you can backup via the date/year. This is especially important once you have more pictures than can fit on one DVD. What’s best about this model is the ability to take the system to different computers without additional software or Internet access.

3 thoughts on “Picture, pictures everywhere, but not a one to find…

  1. That is really a nice way of organizing pictures if we have plenty of them. But I guess instead of having 2 level folder heirarchy, we could have only 1 level. Moreover, it will not be confusing if we are browsing pictures from 2 same-named folders lying in different roots. For eg., in the same tree structure (in left window pane of explorer) you are seeing photos from 04_India from root folders 2006 and 2005. This can be a bit confusing…Instead of this, we could have something like this : Root level folder : Pictures. Inside this, create folders like 2006SEP_India, 2007SEP_India.
    However, there is one disadvantage here: The number of folders will always keep increasing depending on the ferquency of different events(where pictures are taken), whereas in your case, the max number will be controlled : only 1 per year

  2. Sunita,

    I agree that the two levels are not ideal, and I originally had them all in one folder. This became a problem because there were so many folders. I like the year breakdown because it’s easy to figure out what has been backed up as well.

    — Mike

  3. I have found, after years of frustration, that I have “themes” in my pictures. So now I use them to organize all my photos! My hierarachy starts with the year (like 2007), then I break it off into five folder options: Everday Life, Out and About, Friends and Family, Special Events, and Trips. Then, when I upload new pics, it’s really easy to know where to put a new folder of pictures (which I give a name to, like “Angela’s Birthday,”) and I never have trouble finding a picture.

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