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Home: 6 Tips for Organizing Your Digital Photos


If you've used a digital camera for long, you've surely noticed that those images can accumulate in a hurry. Even after you've printed the ones you want to display or add to an album, you need to keep the original image. After all, that's your modern equivalent to those little strips of negatives.

In order to be able to access what you need later on, those unused "for now" images must be organized and stored in a way that's quick and easy to navigate. Here are some tips for getting your digital house in order:

Choose a method of storage.

1. Many online photo processors also offer online storage. Sometimes this service is free, but make sure you read the fine print with regard to the maximum amount of storage allowed and applicable time limits. These online albums have the advantage of being easily shared with friends and family via the internet, and can be divided by time period or event. For good options, check out Flickr.com and Photobucket.com.

2. You may have digital photo software which allows you to organize, store and even edit photos on your computer. Storing photos on your computer's hard drive is usually simple, but you run the risk of losing everything should your system crash. If you go this route, always make a back-up copy of your files on a CD or an external hard drive. CDs take up minimal space and can be quickly labeled with permanent marker and filed away. Likewise, an external hard drive is usually about the size of a sandwich, and can fit in a desk drawer. 

Quit waiting for "someday."

3. Set a date and time, and stick to it. Nothing gets accomplished without a finite plan, so look at your calendar and plan a couple of hours to get started.

4. Decide how you want to organize the photos. Chronological organization is a good way to be able to find things later on (If Claire was in the 2nd grade in 2005, then her 2nd grade Christmas play pics are in the 2005 file, for example.) Some other things may be big enough to be broken out into their own file ("Our Trip to The Beach").

5. Transfer photos into the appropriate files. As you go, you can earmark images you'd like to print and copy them to a separate file or CD. Delete the bad shots that don't make the "precious memory" cut.

6. When your time is up choose a good place to stop, like the end of a year or major event. Make back-up copies if necessary. Upload the images that need to be printed to your favorite photo processing website, and schedule your next photo organization session.

In just a few sessions, you'll erase the backlog of images on your hard drive or memory card, and get prints of great memories to display in your home. From that point forward, a quick once-per-month organization session should keep the digital chaos at bay.

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