4 Digital photo organization tips

The system for organizing digital photos is very similar to organizing printed photos. Sort chronologically, include tags and notes, use and improve your family timeline.

The most important thing you can do when it comes to digital photos is to remain consistent!  Searching for photos on your computer can be really simple if you're consistent in how you date, label and rename your photos.

ONE - Set up a digital filing system to organize chronologically

Our brains work in a lineal fashion. Chronological makes sense to most people most of the time.

Set up an easy to use file system on your computer or back up drive for keeping photos organized in a chronological system.

Taking a few minutes to set up files will make it faster and easier to put photos in the correct file when you download them onto your computer or to move them when you “find” them on your computer.

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TWO - Date your photos - stay consistent

One of the nicest things about digital photos is the ability to “search” for photos using the search box on your computer. With that said, the “search” will only work if your photos are labeled with searchable information.

It’s easy to label an entire collection of photos with the date and some basic information by just “selecting” all of them, right-clicking, and renaming. CONSISTENCY is king when you’re doing this.

Pick a format for dates – I like to use a 4 digit year, 2 digit month, 2 digit date – 20190107 - format. By not using any spaces, dashes or backslashes in your format for the date, will make it easier for you to stick with your system. The other thing about using this dating system is that everything will stay in chronological order.


If you start with the month first, 01072019, your computer is going to organize all your 01s first, so you’ll end up with a list on your computer that looks like this:


THREE -  Add tags for events and people, stay consistent

When adding names and events – you’ll also want to stay consistent.

My older son’s name is London, that’s a lot of letters and I can shorten it up by simply using LT, his initials. Christmas, also a lot of letters, can be shortened to xmas. The fewer characters you use, the less likely you are to make a mistake that could foil your ability to sort. For example, if you’re writing out Christmas and type ''Christams'' instead, when you search, the misspelled names/tags won’t pop up.

Photo names can be as simple as the date 20191225, but if you take a minute to add a few more bits of information – 20191225, xmas, LT – the photo is now searchable by date, event or person – some or all of the tags listed.

If I’m consistent in how I tag my photos, I can search just xmas and LT – to get every picture of London at Christmas for every year, or I can narrow it down to specific years and dates.

Here are a few of the codes I use:
SB – Spring Break
4J – 4th of July
BDay – Birthday - I include this tag for any Birthday related events. Often people have Birthday Parties on days that aren’t actually their birthday. This tag will bring up those events when I search.

You might also have hobbies or activities that you or your children/grandchildren participate in regularly. When my boys were in middle school and high school they played Ultimate and Football – I used the tags ULT and FB for these photos. (If you keep a digital journal, be sure to use the same tags in the journal entries.)

I also use a perpetual calendar to keep track of the abbreviations I use for each person, holiday, or event.

If you're unfamiliar with perpetual calendars, sometimes call "Birthday Calendars" they have months and dates, but no "days." Meaning, that you can use them every year.

I follow the person's name or holiday/event with the code I use when I'm renaming photos.

You can also use a simple spreadsheet. The upside to a spreadsheet is that it’s “searchable” but the downside is that you have to have access to a computer when you want to use it.

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FOUR - Create a family timeline and keep it with your photos

When you’re sorting photos it can be difficult to remember what year or month something happened. To aid your memory start a family timeline.

This can be something that you put on the wall of your craftroom and use as part of the room décor, it can be a notebook, index cards, a Word Doc, or even a spreadsheet.

As you sort through photos you can fill in dates and events and then reference back to them when you find stray photos or mementos later.

Lastly, if you keep a calendar each year, whether it’s a small “purse” sized calendar or a regular wall calendar, store it with your photos at the end of the year. It will provide a great reference for details later. If you've already created this for your printed photos, there’s no need to create a second one you can use the first one for sorting both printed and digital photos.

One more thing...

After you've printed your photos, leave yourself a note with the digital photos about where you stored the printed photos. It's a good Idea to add a large capital letter "P" to the name of the file too.

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Photos can be a little overwhelming.  Try to work in small batches.  If you're having difficulty making decisions that's a sign that you're tired.  Take a break and come back to the task later.

Thanks for stopping by today,

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Creating an organization notebook?  This is a Totally-Tiffany printable post.  File it under Photo Organization.

File this Totally-Tiffany printable post in your notebook.

6 Responses to 4 Digital photo organization tips

  1. I would really like to print your blog posts dealing with photo organization. When I try, I also print the column on the right and end up using a lot of extra paper. Is it possible to put these posts in some type of printer friendly file like a MS Word file or PDF file? Is there some trick to printing to just get the info from the post? Thank you. Great information!

  2. It is possible to only print what you want by highlighting the text and then right click on the mouse and click print. When it is time to choose the printer, be aware to ckick on the wird “selection” and you are done. I did that before Tiffany put the link to a digital photo PDF and it worked well.

  3. Thanks for the PFD printable post. Also, it allows me to save PDF file into my document folder for 2020 GOC information.

  4. I just found this idea and am getting started. When you say to add tags, do you mean as a part of the name of each picture? Can I use commas like you do in your example? Thanks!

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