image reflecting digital organizationLike thousands of others, you’ve probably taken hundreds of photos over the last year and many more over the holidays.  But, are you organizing photos so you can find them easily in the future?    Here is some information on how I organize my digital photos to help you get started.

Organizing Photos

  1. Copy or move photos on to your hard-drive.  Even though I have a PC, the basics will work just as well if you have a Mac.
  2. Have all your photos in one folder structure, with sub folders of the year, month and subject.  For example, my Christmas photos from this year are stored in the folder structure:
    Pictures > 2015 > 12 > Christmas
  3. Rename your photos.  One of the easiest ways to find your photos more easily in the future is to rename your photos.  For instance; if you take photos with an iphone, photos by default are name img_3201.jpg with 3201 being the photo number.   Would this make sense to you in a month, a year or even 5 years? So, I would rename my photos to include the year, month, day and subject and possibly the people involved.  Once you decide on a naming structure for your photos, keep it consistent.  MetadataFor example: rename img_3201.jpg to 2015-12-25_MooreFamily_Christmas.jpg
    Or, another example is: 2015-12-26_Moore-Deronda_Christmas.jpg

TIP:  When renaming files, be sure to include the file extension (.jpg)!!

Metadata / Tagging

Renaming your photos to include the date, subject, etc. is just one layer of organizing your photos.  Metadata describes other data; such as the camera make and model that was used to take the photo, date taken, etc.  While some of the metadata can be edited, such as title, caption, file name and keywords.

There are many photo organizing tools that allow you to modify the metadata, although some will not allow you to export or import that information.  So, be sure to research and test before spending hours updating your information.  For this article though, I’m only going to provide a brief introduction and examples from my PC.   TIP: You cannot modify the metadata in Windows from the library; you have to navigate from “this PC” and dependent on which version of Windows you have.  I am using Windows 8 for this example.

  1. From “This PC”, I navigated to my folder structure Pictures > 2015 > 12 > Christmas.
  2. Right-click on any one of your photo files and choose Properties.
  3. MetaDataSelect the Details tab.
    You’ll notice several pieces of information that can be modified and/or viewed here about your photo.
  4. The simplest piece of information that can be updated and will find useful down the road is the Tags field.  I use the year, where the photo was taken, subject (in this case Christmas) and who was in the photo.

The combination of renaming the photos and adding metadata allows you to easily find photos in the future.  Let’s say you need to find all the photos you have with your dad.  By integrating these two methods, you can either search for or filter your photos to include your dad’s name.


Once all your photos are organized into folders and renamed, you’ll want to make sure that you have a great backup strategy in place.   A great strategy to make sure your photos are protected is called the “3-2-1 Method”. This simply means that for any important file you have at least 3 copies, in at least 2 locations, with at least 1 of those being offsite.

No one system or tool works for everyone!  There are a combination of tools that customized to fit you and your family.  In my case, I use Mylio to do immediate syncing and backups of my photos.  I also do nightly backups via an external hard-drive of all my documents and photos.  Should you want more information about Mylio, please contact me!

I hope these tips were helpful in getting you organized for this coming year.

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