How to Organize All of Those Digital Photos!

digital photos1
Image via Momof6

I am guessing that most of us feel lucky if we even manage to get all of our photos off of our phones and cameras and onto our computers. But once the photos are there, the process of reviewing them and then doing something with them is just too much!

But just think–if you had a system of storing and organizing photos, you would actually be able to find and enjoy the photos you have, find a particular photo if you are looking for it, and perhaps even turn some of your photos into framed pieces for your home or even assemble them into a digital scrapbook! Lately, I've been making an effort to stay on top of uploading, reviewing, and organizing my digital photos. Here's how to organize all of those digital photos:

Image via Momof6

1. Upload Your Photos Monthly and Organize Them Into Folders

Since I am an all-Apple kind of girl, I use the iPhoto app, which comes pre-loaded on Macs. But if you are a Windows fan, then Windows Live Photo Gallery is your free tool that does many of the same things. Or if you want to store your photos online, you can try Google's Picasa, where your photos are not stored on your computer at all, but are saved in the cloud. (And of course, there are dozens and dozens of photo storage sites–some paid and some free–so do your research before committing to a solution.)

As a Mac user, I have Photo Stream turned on, which automatically uploads all of the pictures that I have taken on my phone and tablet to the “cloud” so that they are instantly available on all of my devices, including my laptop (up to 1000 photos). The cool thing about Photo Stream is that it is a temporary sync of these photos (for just 30 days). All of these synced pictures are in stored in iPhoto by month and are automatically removed from my laptop if I do not specifically save them to iPhoto on my laptop. If I decide that I want to keep any of these photos for the long term, I move them into their own folder within iPhoto.

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For pictures taken on my camera, I have to put a reminder in my calendar at the end of each month to make sure that I upload all of them onto my laptop, and then I delete the originals from my camera, which frees up the memory cards to be used again. After they are uploaded, I group them into logical “events” (which are like folders) and then label each of the events so I can easily find any picture that I need. I know that some people label their photo folders with just the date range of when the pictures were taken. But I find it so much easier to find photos later if I label them by subject, like “New Hampshire Vacation” or “Spencer's fall soccer season.”


18 soccer pictures
Image via Momof6

2. Review and Delete, Delete, Delete!

Here is an example: I recently watched my son play in his first junior varsity soccer game and snapped 18 pictures of him on the field. I came home and uploaded the photos and then reviewed them, and of these 18 photos, six of them are awesome action shots of my son. So right off the bat, I know I can delete the 12 non-keepers. But what about the other six? Do I really need to keep six pictures of him playing in one soccer game? I don't. I need to select just one great photo and delete the rest. Not only does this clear up space on my computer for other things, but more importantly, if later on I decide that I want to print a photo of Kyle playing soccer to frame it, I can go into this folder and find just the one picture that I need. I am not looking through six pictures to decide all over again which one is best.

I think the thing that overwhelms most people is deciding what to keep and what to delete. And so they err on keeping far more than they will ever use “just in case.” But that leads to “photo clutter” on your computer, making it harder to ever find and really use the pictures you love.

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Image via Momof6

3. Back Them Up!

So once we've uploaded all of our photos to a computer and then spent time reviewing and deleting, it would be awful to lose all of those photos that we decided we loved! So it is important to back up your photos periodically (every month or even every three months) just so you know your photos are safe in the event of a computer crash or if your computer is stolen. (I mean, you are backing up your hard drive regularly, aren't you?) You can back up photos on an external hard drive, sync them to the cloud, or burn them onto a CD or DVD, whichever method you find easiest to accomplish. But just be sure to do it!

digital photos2
Image via Momof6

4. Use Your Photos!

Why are you taking all of the pictures anyway? Do you like to display them in frames in your home? Do you enjoy having a series of photos that you can look at on your mobile device while out and about? Do you plan to create a scrapbook of your photos–digitally or on paper? How do you like to interact with your pictures?

This is another area that tends to overwhelm people and leads to all sorts of mommy guilt about “not being organized.” First of all, there is no “right way” to use your photos, so don't feel as if you need to print the best photos and organize them into albums just because someone else does it. You need to decide what makes you happy in terms of looking at your photos.


For me, I love to have mine on display throughout my home, and I like to keep them updated. To stay on top of that, at the end of each month, I upload my best photos to Shutterfly (my favorite photo-printing site) and order the prints immediately.

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Are you a digital scrapbooker? Then decide on the 5-10 photos you want to include on a page and export them now, placing them into a labeled folder on your computer. If you can take a few extra moments and actually do your journaling now (writing your description of the events), that's even better because the events are all still fresh in your mind. If you'd like to learn more about how to turn your digital photos into digital scrapbooks, then please check out my “How to Create Free Digital Scrapbooks Using PicMonkey” over on Momof6!

Are there pictures you want to email to friends? Upload to a family website? Then do it now.

Image via Flickr/ jazbeck

5. Don't Know Where to Start?

Don't focus on how “behind” you are because you haven't followed this process in the past. You need to begin by starting with the photos that you have on your camera and devices right now. Get them uploaded and into one place. Then begin the process of sorting, reviewing, and deleting the photos you have taken in the last 30 days. Decide how you want to use those photos from the last month and print or upload them now. Then stick with this process at the end of every month going forward.

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If you then want to begin working backwards on the photos that you took in months past, I recommend giving yourself one hour every weekend to work on it as a project of reviewing, deleting, and using. Just work backwards one month at a time until you are caught up. Don't think this is something you can do in one day! You'll get overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of photos!

Are you on top of your photo organization? If not, what about it is the most challenging?

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How to Organize All of Those Digital Photos!

My name is Sharon and I am the busy Mom of six children ages 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8. People often ask me "How do you do it?" I tell them that my key to success lies in planning ahead, with a whole lot of creativity and organization thrown in! ... More

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  1. Heather says:

    one thing that I do that I find very helpful is as soon as I upload the pictures, I make a point to crop them all to 4 by 6 so that way when I upload them to Shutterfly I know that no one is getting their head or leg chopped off with Shutterfly doing an auto crop.

  2. Anabelle says:

    I love pictures and i have ton of pictures of my kids. I lost many pictures , saving the pictures in the computer; now i use Shutterfly and I love it, I can upload pictures directly from my iphone and I have a folder per year and in each folder I have the albums organized by date. It is very easy for me to find the pictures and I can also use the app if I want to show them.

    • Hi Annabelle! I too am a huge fan of Shutterfly- I use them for all of my photo printing. In the past, they didn’t have a way to download your albums in high resolution- but I see that is now an option, which makes it a great photo back up tool! Thanks for pointing it out!

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