How to organize your digital photos in 3 easy steps

How to organize your digital photos | 3 easy steps

Updated: 10/15/2020

 

Have you ever stopped to look at how your photos are digitally organized on your computer or drive? I finally took a peak and realized that I had thousands of photos thrown into one main folder. And the picture folders I did have, had titles like “Summer Fun 2016” and “My Best Friends”… labels that were so vague and at the time really *cute*, but now I really didn’t know what was in them!

 

September is “Save Your Photos” month

I’d been wanting to make time to get them better organized so that I could more easily find images as I was needing them. And when I realized that September was “save your photos” month and October hosts a “National Clean Your Virtual Desktop” day, it felt like the perfect time to get some digital photos organized!

I want to be honest and say… sorting 10+ years of photos is NOT fun! It took days of endless sorting and copying and pasting! (Plus a little extra time to reminisce and get caught up in the moments) But in the end, I am SO satisfied with the result!

I can now quickly look into my pictures folder and find the perfect photo for my current project. Yes!!

Hopefully, you’ve been organizing your digital photos in a better way and don’t have this issue, but in case you’re struggling like me and want a way out, I thought I’d share 3 easy rules that worked best for me to get my digital photos organized!

Declutter First

*Side note: I highly recommend spending some time decluttering your digital photos while you’re organizing them. Digital storage is just like any other kind of storage, even though it might not seem like a big deal. Digital photos and documents are still taking up space whether it be on a cloud or hard drive or even just your computer. And at some point, you’ll need to make room for new photos.

So take a few minutes to delete images that are blurry, have bad lighting or duplicates, and even scenic ones that don’t really take you back in time to the trip itself.

This should knock out at least a good 1/4 of the photos you’ll then spend time sorting– so make sure you do it first!

PIN How to organize your digital photos

The labeling is KEY to success here.

  1. Start each folder with the year it was taken– this will help put everything into chronological order when sorting! So everything from 2009 will be in order in my folder and I can find the pictures from college graduation.
  2. After the year, use the month NUMBER– So instead of saying 2011 May, put 2011-5 so you can again keep everything in chronological order.
  3. And last, be descriptive in the event from that date. So instead of saying “summer fun” put something like “Canyon Lake Trip” or “Kayak Adventure on Mission Lake”.

That’s it! That’s all it takes to get your photos in an organized fashion and reference ready!

This does mean you will have more folders, but it also means that you can see at a glance, where your pictures are. So if you decide to send a photo book to your parents of your past years adventures, you can easily do so!

It also makes it easier to make a silly photo collage of my friendship with a girlfriend over the past 10 years, really easy!

Summer time usually means vacations, family time, and lots of photo opportunities! What photos are you uploading and organizing currently?

Looking to declutter other areas of your home?

Grab our free guide below, to help you start decluttering today!

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21 Comments

  1. Erin

    This is a really great idea, Melissa!! I’m going to have to put this on my to-do list for sure!!

    Reply
    • Melissa Rogers

      Thank you, Erin! I hope it helps get your photos organized 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jenn

    I so needed this right now! Thank you Melissa!!

    Reply
    • Melissa Rogers

      Love it! You’re welcome 🙂

      Reply
  3. Kasia

    This is a great tip. I’m behind on my photo organization. I definitely have the year and the month but the titles are still missing. There’s a lot of food pics I have so those are the hardest to organize. I’ve started organizing them by the type of food. It’s a lot of work.

    Reply
    • Melissa Rogers

      I’m not sure what exactly you do with your food photos, but maybe consider sorting them by date and then location….like restaurant name or “food truck x”?

      Reply
  4. Matt

    Haha, my photos are all over the place! At work, we use the year first filing system that makes so much sense. I really should apply it in my personal life, thanks for the nudge!!

    Reply
    • Melissa Rogers

      Yes, now that I’ve done mine that way… it makes so much sense! Now I don’t waste time thinking “this happened in 2008 no maybe 2007” which was so tedious!

      Reply
  5. Lisa

    Eek. I really need to organize my photos! Since everything is digital now, it’s just so easy to download and dump into a folder. I don’t even think about how I’ll find them again, lol. A helpful post, thanks:)

    Reply
    • Melissa Rogers

      I know, Lisa! I was the same! Hahaha We take SO many more photos these days…it can be hard to keep up! But filing them makes it WORTH keeping them!

      Reply
  6. Muhammad Ameen Sheikh

    These are the tips which I usually follow when creating an album 🙂

    Reply
  7. Globejamun

    Oh wow such a great tip..All of this will be so helpful 🙁

    Reply
  8. Tahnee

    I love some quick organisational skills! Thanks for sharing a great post

    Reply
  9. Niki

    I am the worst person when it comes to organizing pictures! First of all, I can’t figure out which ones I need to keep and which to delete. You make it sound so easy… Care to help me by actually doing it for me? LOL!

    Reply
    • Melissa Rogers

      Haha Niki! I feel ya!! And I would definitely help you! 🙂

      Reply
  10. Kelly Iverson

    I have literally thousands of photographs that I don’t know what to do with! I always get scared to delete them off my memory card in case i lose them. This was super helpful!

    Reply
    • Melissa Rogers

      Kelly, I totally understand your fear! I am not the most tech savvy person out there, so I know the fear! Haha But that is why I always have the photos saved in TWO places. A hard drive and maybe a cloud site or even a separate disc. My wedding photos for example, are on a separate flash drive all their own. I would be devastated if I lost those!

      Reply
  11. Echoesofhervoice

    Great post! I now need to make myself organize my pics!

    Reply
  12. Bridget C.

    Great tips! I did this not too long ago (80,000 photos!) It definitely makes things easier to find! This past summer I tackled organizing all the print versions too in keepsake boxes lol!

    Reply
    • Melissa Rogers

      Oh wow! Sounds like quite the task! Glad you got it accomplished!

      Reply
  13. Christina

    This is great! I thankfully have had mine organized as I take them! Transferring them to another place though is a different story! Lol

    Reply

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