Photo Organization the Fast , Free and Easy Way

I take pictures—lots and lots of pictures—oodles of pictures. I have thousands and thousands of photos in my photo library, thanks in part to digital cameras and the ability to take as many photos as I want, with whatever device I want. But things can get pretty chaotic when you’re taking photos with your phone, your tablet, and your camera. Your photos end up in different places, and maybe even backed up onto different cloud drives. But I have a simple solution to keep my photos organized.

So here are the quick things I’ve learned to do to keep my photos organized.

  • Choose one location where you want to store all of your photos, no matter what device you take them with. It can be a thumb drive, an external hard drive, a cloud drive, your PC hard drive…anywhere, so long as there is lots of space. Also keep in mind that the more crowded your PC’s hard drive is, the slower it will perform—which is why I recommend an external solution for media storage if at all possible.
  • And make sure you upload your photos regularly from your devices. It’s easy to do if you are using cloud storage and you set all your devices to back up your photos to that cloud (if you don’t mind paying the fees for all the storage you’ll need. If you do mind paying fees, consider buying your own cloud storage device). You can also transfer them to a PC or PC accessory (read: thumb drive, or SD card, or external hard drive) via USB connect.
  • Choose or create a designated Photo folder on whatever you chose for your master storage device.

PSE Organize by Year

  • Within that folder I have created a folder for each year.

PSE Organize by Month

  • Within each year’s folder I created 12 folders, one for each month (remember to number the folders 1-12 so that they stay in order, instead of being automatically alphabetized by month).
  • I save all photos into their designated month and year folders.

*Note: to make your life easier, you can organize your photos by date before you start sorting them into folders. In your photo folder window, go to the tool bar at the top and click View> Sort By> Date Taken. That’s how I sort all of my individual photo folders as well.

This same method for can be employed for storing videos, too. Keep in mind that it’s always best to have at least one back up—an SD card, or a thumb drive, or an external hard drive—so that you don’t have all your family memories in one basket, per se.

Once you have your photos organized chronologically it is pretty easy getting to and from photos of any certain event if you have a general idea of when it happened.

PSE Organize by Place

Now, there are other useful ways of organizing your photos as well, which are possible if you have a program like Photoshop Elements. With the Elements Organizer you can go through those folders you’ve already set up and use Elements to further organize your media by person, or by location, or by event. This would have been extremely useful a few years ago…

PSE Organize by people

I was making a photobook for my in-laws for Christmas. For some unfathomable reason I decided it was important that each person in the family receive equal representation (the same amount of photos of each person throughout the book). It took me longer to search for the requisite number of pictures for each aunt, uncle, cousin and grandparent than it did to design and create all the many pages in the book.

This feature in the Elements Organizer would have totally eliminated that tedious task. Woe was me.

PSE Organize by Event

And then there’s organizing by event. It would have made my life easier that one time when I was creating a photobook, as a gift once again, of one particular family vacation…

Anyway, just know that you have the option to organize by person, place, and event as well, and it’s easier to do once you’ve organized your photos into yearly and monthly folders.

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About the author

Cecilia Harvey

I'm a technological enthusiast with a completely unrelated degree in English Literature. I've also been known to dabble in photography and DIY furniture refinishing, with occasional stints of fitness sprinkled among all of the above.

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