10 Steps to organising your digital photos. For good.

With the ease of which we can snap off a pic these days, it’s no wonder our phones, laptops, computers and hard-drives are staggering under the digital weight of all those pixels.    So where are all your photos, exactly?

giphy (2)OK, so comes the day when you want to show your new love interest the randomly blue hair you used to have.  Hmmmm.  How many years ago was that? Deleted or not deleted? this is the question.
You want to prove yourself right – that idiot cousin of yours WAS blotto at Aunt Fanny’s funeral.  Where’s that photo??  Aaaaah…well, it’s under a veritable mound of megabites.

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Tidying up your happy snaps is not something we would enjoy doing necessarily but, surprisingly, it can be quite therapeutic, nostalgic and very satisfying once it’s been achieved.  So – here we go.

  1. LOCATE:

    Find every single possible source of your digital photos and write a list.  eg: laptop, your iphone, your digital camera, your old digital camera, your REALLY old digital camera, maybe third party photos in your emails, in your Messenger, on Facebook,  your old video camera (that can take stills), your old mobile phone, your mum’s phone, your PC, your MacBook Air, even other old PCs and Macs and laptops. flashdrives …Whatever.   Work out where all the photos are.


    Do you have a lot?  not thousands?  Your next step is to purchase an external hard drive or some other form of external storage media. (NOT an USB flash drive stick, they’re too flimsy, though you can do this for your backup copy.)
    Go buy one.  I have a 2Tb External Hard Drive. (EHD)

  3. Your Hub Device:

    Now – pick a wi fi computer device which will be your portal – the one you copy everything to, to start with (It doesn’t have to stay on there.)  This device should have WiFi and the memory capacity to hold digital media, and also preferably have USB 3 ports as your new EHD probably has USB3, at least USB2 which is not quite as quick.
    Ensure this device is not in imminent danger of breaking down – make sure your computer housekeeping is up to date on it – antivirus, defragmentation, all that sort of stuff.

    Photos organising digital images pictures humor humour


    On your computer’s desktop (or if you’re anal you can do it in My Pictures) make a new folder and call it Photos IN.   Make another bunch of folders on your desk top called 2014, 2015, 2016 etc…years, whichever years you think these photos are from.  If you have 15 of them, wow….you’re really slack!!!


    Starting with the easiest item – say flashdrives or other EHDs that may contain your photos, plug those into your computer device and transfer the photos from them to the Photos In folder.

  6. DELETE:

    Open your Photos IN folder and change the ‘view’ to extra large icons so you can see the photos.  Step 1 is to delete every picture of your thumb or quadruplicate or boring unnecessary photo you have.  No point in storing garbage.

  7. SORT

    Move your folder to half screen so you can see the Years folders on your desk top and go ahead and sort them through, into years.  Drag and drop photos from Photos In to year folders.  To drag more than one just hold the control key down and click on all the ones you want to drag then drag and drop.   Usually the digital code of the photo will include a date.


    – For mobile phones there are multiple ways, I have good luck with Microsoft OneDrive – a wifi transferrer of the photos in my iphone and which syncs them automatically to my PC, and any other gadget that has my OneDrive on it.  You need a microsoft account, but other than that, it’s pretty easy.  It works on PC and Mac, iphone and android.
    Click here  for One Drive.  You should install it both on the device and on your Hub PhotosIn device.  Once you have One Drive you can wait until photos in your phone load to it, then they’ll sync automatically to the OneDrive on your computer.  You can find them easily by opening the OneDrive Pictures folder and dragging them to the relevant years.
    – ALTERNATIVELY – your cellphone probably came with a usb cable, you can drag photos from your phone to computer using this.
    – OR you can take the memory card out of your phone if it contains your photos, and insert it into your computer, if it has a media reader.
    – OR Some phones and computers have Bluetooth, you can transfer using this facility.
    – OR Samsung’s Kies Air app enables you to transfer photos to your device wirelessly, and there are many other apps that can help.  My preference is for OneDrive. It works for me.

  9.  CAMERAS:

    For cameras, video cameras and similar devices you often need the software that came with them and the USB cable that joins the camera to the computer.  Look up your brand of camera – eg: Sony use Sony PlayMemories Home, Canon uses Zoombrowser.   They’re always very user friendly.  Once you’ve plugged your camera in, a window generally opens automatically allowing transfer.

    Continue transferring to your Photos In, deleting the garbage, then sorting into your Year Folders until you have finished.   If you want to, you can further divide your Year folders into events or months, but I’m guessing enough is enough.

  10. COPY

    Plug in your EHD, and copy (not cut and paste) the photos over to the External Hard Drive, complete in their Year folders.   You can copy these folders to as many backups as you wish (This is when I do use another simple USB flash drive.  I give it to my parents to keep at their home for protection, should anything happen to my first EHD copy.)


    OK….so there’s 11 steps, not 10.    This step is to prevent the same thing happening again.   In your computer’s My Pictures folder (or similar) Make a folder named the current year “2017 Photos”.  Whenever you have emails, facebook photos, messenger photos, snapchats or whatever, you can copy them to the most recent photos folder.  Once a year (I always do this in January of the next year) collect all your devices, phones and camera and consolidate them into that folder. I sometimes name the groups of photos within them, so I can find them easily “Alex’s first day at school 28.2.17 ” etc.   Then copy the whole Year folder into that EHD.  (and your backup USB if you made one.)
    I keep only the last 2 years worth of photos on my computer.  This way I can usually find what I want, but I also iknow where stuff is from te past….It’s on that EHD in my storeroom, each photo in it’s correct year.

NOW I CAN show everyone the day I had blue hair!!!

Do you have millions of old paper photos you need to organise? A Guide to organising Family Photos – Part 1  and A guide to Organising Family Photos – Part 2

Follow Hocus Focus for much more – how to save your vintage media coming up soon.  Films, editing, slides, 8mm film, dvds, vhs video…and more.


4 thoughts on “10 Steps to organising your digital photos. For good.

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