There are two goods ways to organize digital photos on your computer: Software and folders.
Many software programs for organizing digital images exist, and I can’t address all of them here (though I invite comments about ones you love or hate). I use Memory Manager from Creative Memories ($49), and I’ve heard great things about Picasa, a free program from Google.
But if you’re not interested in learning and using digital photo organization software, you can use a folder system on your computer to organize your digital images. Here are some ideas:
1. Dump: First of all, while you’re moving photos around on your desktop, make liberal use of the Recycle Bin. Get rid of duplicate and cruddy photos while you work.
2. Name folders: Using meaningful names for labeling your folders, and I’m not talking about “Photos,” “Miscellaneous” or “Spring.” Those are too generic. Consider using a naming convention that combines date, subject and location of the photos like “2012.09.24 Garden Grandma’s House.” By listing the date first (year.month.day), the folders will automatically sort into chronological order.
3. Nest folders: Put folders inside folders listed by subject or time (or both) to keep things streamlined. For example:
4. Be consistent: Commit to purging and moving photos to properly named folders every month. Choose a day (like the 15th or the third Monday) and put it on your schedule.
5. Back up: Whether your digital photos are a mess or perfectly organized, back them up. If you use a nesting system, all you’ll need to do is move a copy of the main folder (My Pictures) to a memory stick or external hard-drive. Cloud storage is a valid back-up, too. The best back-up? Print your images.
Note: I store photos from my blog separate from my personal photos. My blog photos are never intended to be printed out, and they general don’t show images of people. Once I’ve used them on my blog (hosted by WordPress), they’re backed up under “Media.” So think about how you’re using the photos as you develop your system.