Organise Your Images :: Digital Photo Secrets

Organise Your Images

by David Peterson 24 comments

With the popularity of digital cameras these days, more and more photos are in the digital format. In fact, because it costs to little to take photos, we usually end up taking thousands of them.

So how do you organize your photos so that you can easily find photos later (even years) afterwards?

Google Picasa

In my opinion, Google Picasa is the best way to organize your photos. It's free and is a fantastic program for organization and simple image editing. Get it by clicking on the image on the right.

Picasa will find all your photos on your computer, automatically sort them in a timeline (although you can manually sort into Albums later), and allow you to view and sort them easily. It will download your photos from your camera and has some terrific extra features like showing a slideshow (in a much better way than the standard Windows slideshow), creating a Gift CD of your images, and even sharing your photos by uploading to the web.

Best of all, it's very easy to use and you don't need to be a computer genius to organize your images.

Photoshop Elements

If you use Photoshop Elements, this program has a great Photo Browser feature that will import your photos from your camera and help you organize them into folders. Photoshop CS2 has an excellent image organizer, although it's not as easy to use as Elements.

You can sort your photos into "Collections", or "Tag" them for easy retrieval later. I use tagging and the ability to assign stars to my fave images so I can later on create slideshows of just my best images for particular topics.

Folder Structure

If you prefer to organize your photos yourself, you can create a folder structure on your computer. When uploading new images, move into the correct folder. The first level of folders is for the year, and then each month and the event name.

It's really simple to implement, doesn't need any extra programs, and is particularly handy to find your images from, say, Uncle Ted's birthday party 2 years ago.

First create the year folders in my "My Pictures" folder (under Windows XP), however, you can place them anywhere on your computer.

When transferring new images from your digital camera, create a new folder for the images. In Windows XP, when I plug in my memory card, I get a prompt from which I can select the "Copy pictures to a folder on my computer using Microsoft Scanner and Camera Wizard" option. Windows Vista has a similar option. I then follow the prompts, select the year and create a new folder for this set of images.

I name the folder using the month as the first two numbers of the folder name (01 for January, 02 for February etc) and the event as the rest of the name.

Then when I want to find my photos, I simply look at the correct year and folder name.

Most people think this post is Useful. What do you think?


  1. David Peterson says:


    iPhoto is great for Mac users. However, it does have some limitations when you want to do more than just organize your images. My advice is to start using it and see how you go.


  2. david says:

    I am thinking of using iphoto for my photos and videos. What do you think of that?

  3. Dianne says:

    HI! LOve your site. I have got windows xp and am trying to orgainse my photos in my pictures. I need to ask how do I open a subfolder? I want to open folders for the different years and then move my file/folders there. can I do this now?

  4. John Davidson says:

    About your site in general.
    I like your course and help. It's like having a knowledgable friend and a club at hand. Jolly well done!

  5. Travis says:

    Picasa works great with the latest update of folder tree viewing.

    Another great feature is the uploading/sharing part of picasa. Check mine out and see for yourself.

    and the best part is it is all free.

    FOR SEMI-PRO / PROSUMERS, if you want to shoot and edit RAW images, this program is amazing and free. And has a great work flow design. Adobe however just bought the program and will soon be ending the link. So check it out and download now if you have a DIGITAL SLR (I shoot a Nikon D70 w/ 18-70mm nikkor)

  6. Barbara says:

    I use the folder method of organizing, as you show, but I put the date to the event in each month. eg. 01-14-Uncle Ted's bday, 01-26-Trip to Bahamas. All would be in 2007, 01JAN. I keep a paper book journal so I can find what I'm looking for by date or event.

    I,also, copy all the original pics and put them on a CD so that I am working with the copies only.

  7. Tormod Malmgren says:

    I have also convert to mac and I have tried many of the programs and found that iphoto 6.0 is great for most of the job and you can combine it with photoshop. I also tried Adobe lightroom which is in public beta and is really the best I tried up til now

  8. Bruno says:

    I agree with Trish, Picasa might make your Photo Collection look organised within the program but the file structure is a big mess... so not a good idea if you ever intend to change programs /systems (even if you can import the picasa library files) or want to make CD / DVD backups.

    I sort my photos as described above in folders according to date and place/event, additionally I sometimes add keywords/tags into the exif/meta data of photos so I can find them without a date in mind, which makes it platform & program independent.
    So no matter what computer system or online gallery I transfer my collection to, I preserve the same strategy. Using the exif/meta keywords you can sort your photos easily into date independent categories (i.e. the (picture) search for "beach" will bring up every photo you tagged with beach), works also for online galleries that understand exif (like the well known gallery script).

    For viewing, searching, tagging, and further categorizing and even small editting tasks I use ACDSee (Pro), which also understands image audio, movie clips, and basically every picture format I ever heard of (plugins extensible).

  9. Trish says:

    This was a great topic, however I have to disagree about Picasa. I have thousands of photos and this program didn't even provide the option of making subfolders for organization; it just made folders and that's it. I have gmail - which is great for organization of email messages; with that in mind, I thought a program by Google would be better than what I experienced.

    I have found that organizing files on the hard drive is much easier.

  10. Stanley says:

    IPhoto on the Mac is a good application. It also stores by date and its Preferences allow for quite a range of automatically generated chronological folders. I've recently started using v.6 which is worth looking at. Better editing tools.

    The way around the bulky library is to create more specific libraries. Hold the Option key down while booting up IPhoto and it will ask you whether you want to create a new library. To revert to a previous library, do the booting up thing again and you can choose which library to work in. It will otherwise simply open up in the last used library.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 minutes
About David Peterson
David Peterson is the creator of Digital Photo Secrets, and the Photography Dash and loves teaching photography to fellow photographers all around the world. You can follow him on Twitter at @dphotosecrets or on Google+.