You’re back! I’m glad you weren’t too overwhelmed by yesterday’s #15in15in2015 kickoff for the First Day of Spring. Since we had to cover some initial housekeeping yesterday because it was the first post of the Spring Fling challenge, today we’re getting right into the nuts and bolts, or should I say, file cabinets, drawers, hanging folders, and manila file folders. Yep, I’m using a visual reference from the physical paper world to help you think about how to handle your digital life.
FILE CABINET FOR JPGS
The file cabinet is your computer hard drive’s PICTURES folder. The file cabinet drawers represent each YEAR of your photo collection. Hanging folders serve as the MONTHS in your collection. And inside each month, you can add further detail with a manila file folder that specifies events, people, and places.
These themed topics are usually the major milestones and moments that we mostly photograph in our lives. Think birthdays, weddings, graduations, holidays and vacations. Although frankly our “everyday” moments are quickly becoming just as photographed thanks to Instagram’s plethora of cat & coffee candids, so maybe you’ll want a generic “catchall” folder for each month’s “miscellaneous” moments too.
If you think of organizing your digital files as if you would paper ones, it’s pretty simple to determine the basic structure for your folders and JPGs. The best part is that once you’ve established the system once, it’s a cakewalk to maintain as you add photos and grow your collection. Not to mention the fact that you’ll be able to find a photo you want much faster than before, if you even could before! And that’s the true beauty of a well-named chronologically based folder organizing system.
But wait, you whine! That’s not how my brain works! I can’t remember what year we visited Disneyland for Spring Break, this system will never do the trick for me. Slow down, I’m not done. There’s more to it than dates. We’ll add details to jog your memory. And maybe searchable keywords later too. Relax and trust my system. Let’s learn more before you jump ship.
2N = NAMING & NUMBERING
The 2Ns are the key to organizing and the secret to finding a photo sooner than later! Without proper naming of files, the computer’s default to prioritize numbering will throw off the best attempts at organizing. You’ll see why in a minute. Do not be afraid to rename folders! It can be done and undone multiple times over until you get a naming scheme that works the way your brain thinks. Don’t just use what you read online or in a book, or go blindly with whatever some organizing pro says (unless it’s me…ha!).
Try out this theory on your own photo collection. Test it on a small batch first to see how it suits your situation. Are the names/terms ones you’d normally use? Does it offer enough variety or flexibility to adapt as needed? Is it overly complex to integrate or far too simple to really make an impact? Don’t be afraid to make a hybrid of a couple styles to best match your specific needs. It’s not a “one size fits all” but if you don’t have a preference that you know of yet, I do recommend you try these dated (& eventually detailed) folders.
APRIL FOOLS FIRST
You’re not a fool but your computer will always start the year in April if you label folders using only words because it sorts alphabetically. To make January show up before April in your list of photo folders, you have to follow my specific naming structure for them to be displayed in order on your computer. That means using two-digit dates, such as 01 for January so it is listed numerically before the alphabetical leaders of April and August.
My other “rule” is to re-use the year in your folder name as well because once the files are moved out of that YEAR folder, that info won’t be as obvious anymore. So the best folder name would be 2015-01 then 2015-02 and so on. Why don’t I put the month first? Well, I don’t want my Mac’s Finder to list a bunch of January folders, then Februarys…etc…through all my years’ worth of pics. I tend to think of the year first & then the month so it makes sense to me. (I have yet to hear a solid argument for putting the month first but go ahead & try me in the comments if you think you have one!)
TO-DASH OR_UNDERSCORE SPACES
That is the question. While computers of our past did not like spaces in folders & filenames, today’s can handle it just fine. However, tech experts recommend naming files shorter terms tied together with either dashes/hyphens or underscores because the internet does not like spaces. In fact, it turns them into these — %20. So to dash-or-not-to-dash. Or dash_or_not_to_dash. These are your choices. Or I guess if you want to be a renegade, you could use “dash or not to dash” as a filename. I’ll never really know but the web might wreck your well-laid plans. I highly suggest you start with one way that you like looking at and stick with it forever after. It’s a personal preference so pick a way and there you’ll stay. [Full disclosure: I still use spaces in my folder names, but not in my file names. Can’t really say why but it’s what I do & it works well for me so far.]
We’ll discuss other rules for naming files when we add more details, but for now, our folder names are just fine with numbers — and dashes or underscores, unless you want to be a renegade Space Cowboy like me.
Your instructions are below. Put any questions in the comments or email me directly. I welcome your feedback! See you tomorrow for Day 3, which is already one fifth of the way to finished!
DAY 2: 15 MINUTES — THE “YEARS & MONTHS MAKE & MOVE” PROCESS
Set your phone’s timer or stopwatch for 15 minutes and start making new folders within your YEAR folders for the MONTHS. Don’t forget to follow my specific naming structure in order to keep them displayed in order on your computer.
You already have a 2015 folder, right? And your January-March photos should be in it, right? (If not, please do this first). Adding a sub-folder of 2015-01 becomes home for your January pics. Do a 2015-02 for February & 2015-03 for March. But this month isn’t over yet, you say. And you plan to take more photos yet this month. No problem. Where should you put the March 20-30th photos once you download them from your camera? In the 2015-03 folder you made inside the 2015 folder you say? Why that’s 100% correct? You got an A+ on your pop quiz!
Now guess what you get to do? More of the same! Go back through 2014 working your way backward through the past year month by month. Using the full 4-digit year and 02-digit months to name folders, you’ll fill them with your specifically dated digital photos.
Don’t take time to look too closely at your photos, delete doubles or worry about editing at this time. Your only goal is to get them quick-sorted into their date/name folder hierarchy. And try not to stroll down memory lane! Once we get your photos all taken care of, there will be plenty of time to play…trust me!
Go back as far as your time allows. If you didn’t finish in the allotted 15 minutes, try to find another 15-minute session to “file” your digital files in their right file cabinet drawers and hanging folders.
In summary, your DAY 2 DUTIES:
- FIND YOUR PICTURES/MY PHOTOS FOLDER & MAKE A 2015 FOLDER (if you didn’t over-achieve yesterday). THEN ADD 3 MORE FOLDERS FOR THE MONTHS (JAN-MAR) INSIDE THE 2015 YEAR ONE.
- MOVE ALL JANUARY-MARCH 2015 PICS INTO THEIR NEW FOLDERS.
- CREATE A 2014 FOLDER INSIDE THE MAIN “PHOTOS” FOLDER.
- NOW MAKE YOUR MONTHLY FOLDERS FOR 2014 & MOVE YOUR PHOTOS INTO THEM. (VIEW YOUR PHOTOS AS A “LIST” & SORT BY DATE TO EASILY SELECT THE BATCHES FOR EACH FOLDER.)
- IF YOU STILL HAVE TIME OR ARE FEELING AMBITIOUS, REPEAT THIS “YEAR & MONTHS MAKE & MOVE” PROCESS FOR ALL OTHER YEARS YOU HAVE PHOTOS ON YOUR HARD DRIVE.
What if you know you have photo files on your hard drive that are NOT showing the date the photo was taken? Maybe they list the date they were scanned or the date you renamed or edited them once before? If you know the year/month and can quickly move it into the right folder, go for it. If you aren’t sure, leave them loose in the main PICTURES/PHOTOS folder or better yet, create a new sub-folder inside it called 00-DATES (so it will always be at the top of your list) to remind you to investigate at a later date. Ha, we can call it Date-Gate!
© Brenda Kruse and PhotoOrganizingPro.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brenda Kruse and PhotoOrganizingPro.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.