Spring Fling Digital Photo Organizing Challenge #15in15in2015 (Day 5: Stars)

Here comes the fun! Time to find your favorite photos & “star” them! Today’s task will be much more enjoyable than the past couple days of folder naming. But who feels more organized already? You should’ve spent an hour (at least!) on these past four daily tasks so far. Much less than you probably spend watching Netflix marathons on the weekends! After today’s 15-minute session, you’ll be one-third of the way to our grand finale for April 3rd!

Well I let you make it to Day 5 before I asked you what team you were on — PC or MAC. Not that it really matters though, as photo management is a universally compatible problem. But today you’ll be making the official decision of what software program, if any, you are going to use to manage your images. I realize this is a touchy subject and there’s no way to please all of you so please don’t start a fight over this topic in the comments.

Much of it comes down to personal preference and the sheer fact that — whatever you pick — you must use it! Regularly & religiously! If you don’t have a favorite program yet or are willing to explore options, I’ll make recommendations you are welcome to try. But don’t just throw in the towel if you aren’t savvy with a certain photo program I mention. If you already know what you prefer to use, fantastic! Simply use my advice to apply the information to your specific software and all will be well!

apple-311246_1280AN APPLE A DAY
Here we go down the road of discussing loyalties a bit. I’m a diehard Mac lover and have been since an early age. I own a couple 17-inch MacBook Pro laptops that are older and well-used but have served me well. However, I also own a cheap PC laptop that I use to run my high-speed scanning equipment. And over the years, I’ve had to work on PCs for clients as well. Two years ago, I finally got on the iPhone bandwagon with a 5 and just recently upped the ante with the 6+. Somewhat surprisingly to some, I do not currently own any iPads or tablets so I can’t answer any questions purely specific to those although most of what we’re doing will universally apply to all devices.

First of all, there are image viewers that primarily show you the photo files but don’t often have editing tools or other advanced features. You’ve probably been using an image viewer these past few days. There are two other types of photo software you may have used, or have thought about trying out.

Of course, the number one name when people think of when it comes to photo software is often Adobe Photoshop, which is a high-end photo-editing (manipulation depending how far you take it!) program — NOT a photo management system. Adobe Lightroom is a DAM program. DAM stands for Digital Asset Management — I wasn’t cursing at you! A database-driven photo manager usually offers some degree of editing along with the ability to create, edit and access image metadata, the helpful extra information that stays connected with your photo.

lightroom-logoLightroom is available as boxed software or a digital download for about $150. You can also use its Creative Cloud monthly subscription method to get BOTH Photoshop & Lightroom for only $9.99/month, which is a pretty good deal. But not if you’re never going to learn them as they do have pretty steep learning curves. If you shoot RAW, you’ll want to use Lightroom. (If you think “shooting raw” means you take pictures of carrots, stick with Picasa.) It also offers a more advanced editing palette and additional metadata capability. So if you’re a pro (or a wanna-be pro), you may want to make this leap. If you’re a novice, amateur, beginner, hobbyist or just plain normal person looking for something that won’t require a college degree to master, keep reading…

Picasa-logoPICASA FOR ME
Personally and professionally, I pick Picasa for organizing, editing and sharing your photos. Now closely integrated with Google, this free Mac & PC software links well with Google+, Gmail and other Google apps if you are already connected. However, you do not need to have fully explored the Google+ realm to use Picasa. The latest version (3.9) can be downloaded here(http://picasa.google.com/).

Picasa Web Albums are perfect for uploading photos to the cloud for sharing and saving as a backup. Storage is easy enough to manage for archiving and I love that it syncs so if I go back to edit a photo, it will upload the changed version so my online copy stays current without me having to do anything!

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 2.29.00 PM

The nice thing about Picasa is that it doesn’t store your photos inside the program. It simply displays the ones you tell it to find by searching specific folders on your computer. Of course, you simply need to tell it to look in the PICTURES folder as you just put everything there in nicely organized fashion! Woohoo!

Another cool point is that when you edit a photo in Picasa, your original file stays safe. You can make all the edits you want but they won’t save until you say so. Even then, Picasa makes a new version of the edited photo, leaving the original safe. It knows that many of us tend to get carried away with editing and can’t “undo” enough to start over. So it saves our butt for us automatically. Gotta love that!

iphoto-logoWHY NOT IPHOTO
Well, I never really liked how iPhoto seemed to hold my actual photo files hostage in its hidden libraries, among other hiccups, and that led me to migrate to Picasa several years ago and I’ve never looked back.

Now with Apple announcing last summer that it will soon retire iPhoto, I’m even more thrilled with my decision! By the way, Apple also killed off Aperture, the more-pro version meant to battle Adobe’s Lightroom. Both prior Apple photo programs will become the sometime-to-be-released Photos App (the world’s lamest name for a product if you ask me). The promise for an “early 2015” release, which some estimate to be by April, but the latest scoop is questioning even that deadline now.

If you have been using iPhoto and feel confident about it, fantastic! Or if you still want it no matter what I say, then click the app logo to download it now. I wish you luck! When Photos is officially released, I’m sure it will be designed to seamlessly transition your images (and all their metadata) into the new software. So you can choose to wait and see what it’s like or make the move to something else now. Your call. But whatever work you do should be safe if you make the conversion to a system that accepts your current software’s metadata files. Not to scare you, but that’s the key!

If you’re using a different software program that does not play well with others, all your hard work could be wasted if the tags, captions, keywords and such are only specific to that software and will not “stay” with your image when it is exported. Do a little research to ensure that your metadata would make the move too!

microsoft-237843_1280I DON’T DO WINDOWSwindowsphotogallery-screen
I did confess I had a PC laptop for my scanners but I mainly use it as a tool to run the machines. Once the images are scanned, I copy them onto a USB flash drive and plug it into my Macs for importing into Picasa where I go from there. However, I realize that there are probably a few of you PC people who want a Windows solution.

Your “iPhoto” option — as in free, included with every computer — is Windows (Live) Photo Gallery. It will do almost anything Picasa does I’m sure. But again, if there’s a free PC-compatible software program designed specifically for photo management, why wouldn’t you try it? Picasa also works well in households with computers (or phones or tablets) on both platforms as it’s universal. Learn one and everyone is on the same page.

folder-25129_1280YOUR FAVORITE STARS
So now that I shared with you my favorite photo management program, I want you to download it (100% free), follow the simple directions to let it load all your images from your PHOTOS folder. It will show all your nicely labeled & organized year, month & event sub-folders for easy reference.

Then you get to have fun picking YOUR favorites! One cool feature in Picasa (there are many so I may say that often in the next 10 days) is that you can simply STAR a photo as a favorite. You can do this a couple ways from inside Picasa. One by one: as you are viewing a full-size photo, click the star underneath it to apply the “star” favorite tag. Multiples: Shift-select several thumbnails in a folder & then click the star to include them all as favorites.

Why bother you ask? I’ll show you why. At the top center, you’ll see a filters menu that starts with a tiny star. Click it once to “show starred photos only.” It sorts out your faves so you can see (& share) just the ones you love the most. This way you don’t have to delete the others, or copy or paste them into new folders, or anything complicated. Just click “star” & click “view only stars” to narrow it down to the best of the best!

rating-153245_1280You may think you’d prefer to rank your photos on a numerical scale or a 1 to 5 stars so you can gauge them along a sliding scale. Other programs offer this option and it’s really your choice but for me, it’s an added level of decision complexity. Because if you really think about it, are you going to keep the photos that you would mark as 1s or even 2s? You shouldn’t! Just delete them right on the spot! I doubt you’ll miss them because you really don’t love them enough. It’s okay. They don’t mind.

If you would give your photo 5 stars, it gets a star. If your photos are borderline 3 or 4 stars, they should just stay in the folder as is. They are your “supporting” cast of actors; not the leading stars. It’s that easy.

If you had to try to pick a number between 2, 3 or 4, chances are you’d spend too much time debating it in your head than it needs. And then you’d dread doing this process in the first place. So you’d stop. Not good. That’s why I’m a fan of either YES (star), OK (supporting) or NO (delete). Simple. Gut instinct. Go!

I’m not sure if you had more fun clicking through your pics to hit DELETE or if you’ll enjoy clicking to STAR them instead, I suppose it depends on your personality or mood. I’d assume more happy & positive people prefer the STAR process, and those feeling grumpy or revengeful might get a little satisfaction from hitting DELETE.

photographer-456834_1920Now if you are just reading all of my how-to posts before you actually do any of them, I suppose you could TRY to combine both DELETE & STAR tasks into one step. Although I don’t believe you will work as fast because your brain will be trying to think on extreme opposite ends of the spectrum — finding the very best AND very worst. It might be more productive to give your full focus to either deleting the duds or starring the favorites.


Set your phone’s timer or stopwatch for 15 minutes and download Picasa to your main computer. Follow the simple instructions to set it up and have it find the photos in your main PHOTOS folder. Once it’s done with that (don’t count this as part of your 15 minutes), open your most-recent photo folder (should be 2015-03 & any event sub-folders if you have them) to view the pics. You can control the size of the thumbnails by using the slider at the bottom right. Or you can double-click to view it at full-size.star-154489_1280

Decide if it’s a STAR or not. If so, click the small white star under the photo. It will turn YELLOW!  If you change your mind, simply click it again. White is off. Yellow is on. Use the arrow key at the top center to click to the next photo in your folder and keep moving through your photos this way. No need to spend time now doing any editing, tagging or captions…all that will come in due time…starting tomorrow!

If you don’t need to see them full-size, you can click the STAR to any selected photo in the thumbnail library viewer as well. Should you need to save time and STAR several photos at once, you can select the first one you want, hold down the SHIFT key and click on the last one you want which selects everything in between those two photos. Now when you click star, all of them will be favorited. A more useful shortcut may be the Shift-CMD (MAC) that allows you to select several specific photos that are not all in a row.

Go through as many of your photo folders as you can, working backward in time. There are no rules for how many STARS you can have in a folder, but you should not have all photos be stars! Be a little selective your first time through. Try to choose your best ones that matter the most.

heart-25130_1280Think about it like this…you’re in an elevator and you want to show someone your favorite photos from this certain folder. You don’t have a lot of time. Which ones do you pick? Now it doesn’t have to be just 3 or even 10 if it’s a folder of 100 photos but it should be a significantly smaller percentage of the total. I don’t want to give you any hard, fast numbers to follow because it’s not about that. It’s about choosing the best photos you love and the ones that best represent an event or moment that you captured in your life. That’s what matters more.

Obviously, as you’re doing this STAR process, if you find a photo (or 2 or 10) that you maybe missed during your DELETION day yesterday, feel free to handle it now. Don’t save it another second! Get rid of it! You can either right-click to choose “delete from disk” or find that option under the FILE menu. But deal with it now while you’re here and have your mind made up.

In summary, your DAY 5 DUTIES:


attention-303861_1280WHOA WARNING
In the end, if you think you have far too many STAR photos in relation to your total photos, you probably got a little too star-happy in your first pass through. That’s okay but now take a second, more-critical look at the ones you starred. Try to be more selective and remove a few stars now that you’ve seen the folder as a whole.

Sometimes you need a second (or third) pass through to really notice the ones that stand out. Those are the ones truly worthy of stars. The others are just supporting cast members. They aren’t bad photos at all — just not THE shots that would crush your soul if they were accidentally deleted and gone for good.

clock-452552_1920TALKING TIME LIMITS
If you have a zillion photos in your collection, this process could take you more than the 15 minutes, especially if you have to download and install Picasa first. But it is an enjoyable step that you should NOT overlook or skip. Forcing yourself to choose your very best favorite photos will prove priceless in the next 10 days of this process. If it takes you another 15 minutes, so be it. Have fun looking back at your memories & finding your favorites!

© 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.