We’re taking more pictures than ever – digital cameras and mobile phones have really expanded our horizons. But, what are we doing with them? We’re posting them online but they are also living on our computers and phones in a disorganized mess. The computer (and phone) have become the shoeboxes of today. We will share a few simple tips that you may be able to use right away to simplify your digital life.
The first thing to consider is emptying your camera or phone regularly. Schedule once a month (or once a week if you take a lot of pictures) to ensure the images are off your device and onto your computer.
Use consistent folder names. Using names that are meaningful to you can really help you find the images easier. Many people use folder names of their family members, event names or dates. An engineer friend taught me a great way to name my folders by date by using a numbering sequence that stays in order. Using this format can be really helpful: yymmdd – that’s the two-digit year, then month, then day. From there, he adds a dash and then a name. So pictures from Thanksgiving might be in a folder named “111125-Thanksgiving”. He finds his images quickly once he has an idea of when they were taken.
Consider tagging and rating your images. Windows now has features that allow you to tag and even star rate your pictures. It’s a great way to make searching for pictures later. I’ve found though, that searching can be challenging so it’s worth learning how Windows does searches and what settings your system has. Additionally, deleting the mistake images and rotating those that need it is very useful for when you need the image later.
Finally, you may realize that using a software program will make everything easier. There are several great programs available, either free or for a low cost. Some things to compare are its tagging, rating and searching features. Some programs can read your images right from the camera, card and/or hard drive. They can also help with tools for cross-referencing pictures without having to save the image in multiple places on your hard drive. Also, you may want to consider whether or not it offers editing tools and how easy it is to use right out of the box.
Scheduling an hour each time you empty your device can really help you in the long run. If your computer does automatic backups, you are ensuring your most current images are being included. But even more important, consider this: your child just told you that they need a specific image for school the next morning. With a well organized system, that image will be so easy for you to find!