Tis the Season for Spring Cleaning Your JPGs

Spring holds such promise, doesn’t it? Fresh air + fresh flowers = fresh perspective. Time to sweep out the dust of winter’s doldrums & make room for what you love. It’s like a second shot at New Year’s resolutions, right? In case you didn’t get some (okay, almost all) of your grand plans for 2015 going yet, you have another chance to kick it into gear with this hopeful season called “Spring Cleaning!”

All across the globe, people are dreaming up ambitious plans to clean, clear & declutter all their closets, drawers, cupboards, basements, attics, garages, home offices, hobby rooms, [insert any other space that has crossed the line from “lived in” to “can’t live in much longer.”]

Dusting DivaSpring and fall seem to motivate us with a seasonal kick in the pants to clean & declutter our homes, vehicles, offices, our whole lives! Maybe it’s the transition to/from Daylight Savings Time in most U.S. states that initiates this urge. After all, we were taught to change the batteries in our smoke detectors when we change our clocks, right? (Show of hands for who has that “knowledge” since early adulthood?) Apparently a seasonal cleaning phase is also an automatic response.

Sadly, the one item that tends to get overloooked in most spring cleaning sessions — or at least put on the “later” list — is your computer. Of course, in today’s digital-diva/dude world, I’d expand that to computerS (plural), plus add mobile phones (smart ones), tablets, and of course, cameras.

Don't trash your whole computer!
To spring clean digitally, you don’t have to trash the whole laptop! I give you permission (no, I’m giving you a command!) to DELETE SOME of the photo files on your hard drive, and ARCHIVE ALL your best JPGs for safe-keeping. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater…that sure is a creepy historical idiom, isn’t it?

Amazingly, we don’t often think of “spring cleaning” our digital files & photos, yet many of us spend the majority of our days/nights using all these digital devices. Why we worry more about our shoe storage or silverware drawer before we deal with sorting, saving & sharing our photos properly, I just can’t comprehend. But if you’re here, you’re a big step ahead of the rest of the planet so a round of applause for you!

Most of us, minus those of you with an Imelda Marcos-ish shoe collection, would grab our computer (or other device) that holds our digital photos LONG before we’d run back into our burning home for a pair of Jimmy Choos. Okay, I don’t actually own a pair of these so maybe I’m off base. But the point is…our digital photos are usually considered our most cherished possessions on the planet, yet we don’t treat them that way!

That has to stop! Seriously. Make a commitment TODAY to use this “spring cleaning season” to tackle your photo files on your computers & other digital devices. I saw that eye roll, missy! I heard those collective sighs. I know it’s a chore. So is cleaning out your junk drawer but this task is so much more rewarding (unless you happen to find an un-cashed check in your junk drawer, then that might win!).

Click here to start! Organize Your Digital Photos in 15 Minutes in 15 Days in 2015! #15in15in2015 I’m serious. It’s possible. But you have to start & do a little (like 15 minutes!) every day for 15 days. Repeat after me: I can do this! I can organize my digital photos thanks to PhotoOrganizingPro.com!

Lucky for you, I’ve created a 15-day how-to guide for organizing your digital photos! [Insert rousing rendition of the “Hallelujah Chorus” here.] Even better than it being just 15 days long? It should only take you about 15 MINUTES A DAY!?! Okay, these are estimates & I can’t judge your JPG junk drawer from here but if you commit to at least 15 solid minutes each day for 15 straight days, you will feel like a SUPERHERO & will have accomplished a ton!

Imagine kicking off your #15in15in2015 plan of attack on FRIDAY March 20th, the First Day of Spring. That means just 15 days later — on April 3rd, you’ll be doing the dance of joy knowing your JPGs are sorted, organized, shared & saved (in several ways & safely archived in multiple places)! Best of all, you’ll have a system all set up for maintaining it with every single photo you take from now on! Isn’t that worth the “investment” of 15 minutes (or so) a day for 15 days?! [Ignore the image below that says Thursday…stock photo from a past year…it’s FRIDAY FOR 2015!]

1st Day of Spring
Please don’t fill my comments telling me that the 1st Day of Spring is FRIDAY March 20th this year. I did realize that but liked this stock photo & didn’t bother changing it. Plus I blame Daylight Savings Time for making me miss this fact when I first picked the picture! Ha!

Do you have one of these? I’ll bet you do! No shame in admitting it. I’ve yet to find a home without a junk drawer & I highly doubt that you don’t have a mixed-up mess of JPGs that you’d love to have sorted & organized nicely & neatly.

We want to do this because when you want to go find a certain photo, you’ll know right where it will be & can post that #ThrowbackThursday pic to embarrass family & friends (or yourself!). You can show your kids their baby pics — maybe on both a digital device AND in print in some fashion…4×6 prints, scrapbook pages, custom photobooks, canvas prints or other photo-gift.

While your JPGs aren’t a “physical” mess taking up space in the traditional sense of the word “clutter,” their digital presence can hog up “space” on your hard drive, phones and tablets. Just like you sort out the various “junk” items in your junk drawer to group like items together & put them in special “containers” to best hold them for easy access, so also are you going to do that with your digital photo files. Sort & organize photos into folders by date and event/theme, with captions & tags to easily identify images for faster finding when searching.

That said, the primary point of all this effort is to preserve the stories behind the photos! That’s what really matters most. You’re not doing this for your own benefit — you’re doing it for the sake of your children, their children and their children of generations to come who will be fascinated by your photos, but will need the stories that go with them to truly appreciate all your preserved photos.
Delete Key

That’s right, this is the secret to saving your sanity! Drowning in JPGs? Time to be selective. For starters, delete the duds and duplicates. You can. I give you permission!

I’m not asking you to throw out the ones of your kids taking their first steps…or of your grandparents who are no longer with us…or new puppy who now looks a lot bigger. I’m asking you to ditch the ones with a finger in the way, the accidental foot in the parking lot shot, the really blurry sports shots that can’t be salvaged by even the best Photoshop wizards, the unflattering shots of your loved ones (you can keep the ones of your enemies for ammo). Just kidding!

This is just a small taste of the 15-day plan to get your digital photos organized once & for all! Ready to start today? Click here for the Day 1 post & begin your JPG journey.

Need a little more time to get your head around this goal before you commit & kick it off? Check back here on the First Day of Spring (Friday, March 20th) for our official Spring Fling launch session! (Be sure to follow this blog to stay up-to-date with new how-to tips!)

What is your biggest challenge in organizing digital photos? What would you do if you suddenly lost all your digital photos? Has that ever happened to you (or someone you know)? Let me know in the comments below!

© 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.


Wow, we’ve done a lot of work so far! It’s only been a week of daily 15-minute tasks, but you’ve put all your digital photos in one place, sorted them into organized, labeled folders, deleted the duds, picked our “star” favorites, added captions, tagged with keywords, and added geographic location reference to photos. Sheesh! Nice work! To reward your hard work to date, today’s post will be a little more fun! We’re going to play with PEOPLE! Mess with faces!

Some photo organizers insist you should delete MOST of the photos in your collection that do NOT have people in them. I’m not that crazy as I love my scenery pics too but I realize that the ones I want to be sure I save are the ones with my family in them. If I lost some images of an ocean sunset or cloudy skies, I wouldn’t be as upset as if I lost the ones of my kids with their great-grandparents, for example. Keeping things in perspective is important with photo organization!

Think about it. What are a few of your all-time favorite photos you truly cherish? Are they scenic landscapes or ones with people’s faces in them? Typically, our loved ones are what make the photos more meaningful. That’s why Picasa’s PEOPLE library with facial recognition technology is so incredible!

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One of my fave photos is a candid I snapped at my sister’s wedding of my grandma, my kids & my dad — all looking fancy & happy!

When you first start with Picasa and it goes to find all your images in your PICTURES folder, it can scan for faces and will ask you to identify them. Under a zoomed-in “found face” pic, click the “Add a name” white caption box underneath. Type in a name. If it’s new, it will pop up a PEOPLE box asking you a few more details. Click NEW PERSON & fill in the other details as you wish. Now Picasa will magically scan your photo collection to find that face and associate it with that person’s name! All by itself!

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Granted, sometimes it needs some assistance. You’ll have an “Unnamed” folder at the top of the PEOPLE section, waiting for you to identify them. However, once you’ve taught it the person’s name, it will often pop up in a drop-down list when you go to “Add a name.” Simply select the right one or start to type the name and it can auto-fill fast too!

TIP: Be sure the first few photos you identify with a name are clear, focused, front-view photos. This will assist Picasa in accurately locating the others that best match. If you identify a blurry or dark photo with a name tag, you may end up with more mistakes in the suggestions as Picasa is trying to use this somewhat faulty photo as its reference point. 

Picasa sorts all your faces into “albums” it lists on the left under the PEOPLE library. These are NOT duplicates of your photos — they are simply pointing TO the existing file on your hard drive, in whatever folder you have it.

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Here’s one place where it’s perfectly acceptable to IGNORE PEOPLE! Picasa knows you’ll have some group photos where it will find faces that you don’t need to identify. Simply select those and choose “ignore selected” to have it learn those people don’t matter. Well, maybe that’s a bit harsh but it knows that you don’t care to see them called out in the FACES feature. If you choose to change your mind, you can “show ignored faces” and go back to give them a legit label or name tag as needed.

This is often where other people you occasionally photograph will go. Unless you will need to search and find a photo of them specifically in the future, they don’t really need a PEOPLE tag. Save these for your primary faces of immediate and extended family. Maybe leave the kids’ friends un-named for now. It’s up to you and may depend on how many photos you’ve taken of this person — and how many pictures you may take of them in the future.

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Find your favorite shot of each person in their album. Right-click on it and select “set as people album thumbnail.” Or use the top people menu with the icon on the far right. Change this pic as often as you wish!

As Picasa begins to learn that person’s face, it will find some matches it calls “suggestions” and ask you to confirm if these truly are this person or not. In the PEOPLE panel on the left, if you see an orange question mark after their name, it means Picasa has something to ask you about. Click on it to open their “folder” of faces. Near the end of their faces will be the suggestions. Or you can click the “show only suggestions” toggle at the top.

You can either click them one at a time with the green checkmark or red x, but if they are all that person, click the CONFIRM ALL button at the top! Done!

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However, don’t get depressed if Picasa instantly plops another batch of suggestions in that spot! It used the details it learned from the ones you confirmed to find a few more that are similar and wants to make sure it’s correct.

Sometimes, it drops in a face of someone else by mistake. Simply click the red X to remove it from this person’s folder. It doesn’t delete the pic — just puts it in another person’s suggestions file instead.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 11.18.55 PMYou may be wondering how you had all these close-ups of people’s faces when you don’t remember shooting them. They aren’t close-ups at all! Picasa is just zooming in to show you the specific face, so it’s easier for you to identify. The two tiny icons in the upper right corner of the middle section give you the option to see them “zoomed in to the faces” (shown on left below) or “zoomed out to the full picture” (shown on right below).

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This comes in handy when you are looking for a specific picture of a certain person! After you think you found it by their face, you can click to zoom out to see the whole picture. Although you can always double-click any zoomed-in face to open the full photo in the editor window. In the dark gray bar underneath, you can see the exact filename path location for this photo, along with other details, and your caption, of course.

I have been stunned at Picasa’s ability to figure out faces, even ones from infant to adult. It can tell that person even with varying hair styles and when the person doesn’t normally wear glasses. It often recognizes them even when wearing a costume or crazy hair or hat. And it finds them even in a very dark under-exposed or poor-quality blurry photo.

I’ve even seen it pick out the face of a person who was simply in a framed photo on a shelf somewhere in the main photo!?! Because of this, you may see a few strangers in your photo collection. Do not be alarmed. Often these are from group settings at a public event, or even a face from packaging on a Christmas gift! Of course, I haven’t tested this out on identical twins yet. I’m sure that could be a challenge for it!

Once you’ve helped Picasa figure out all the faces in all your photos, you’ll be able to see at a glance who is in each photo, and find the perfect photo of someone without remembering when it was taken! How handy is that?! Hover your mouse over a face in a photo and it will tell you who it is. Or when you are viewing a photo, the right column People Panel will identify them.

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FUNNY FACES: Once in a while, Picasa finds a face in a photo that isn’t really intended to be a face. Well, not of a person anyway!

An almost-hidden (yet magic) way to find several faces in one photo…say you want to find a picture of you with your dad AND your grandma. First, click on the PEOPLE LIBRARY and choose your own folder. Now click on the “people” icon in the lower right corner to open the PEOPLE panel that will show who else is in those photos. Click on the tag of your dad. This will instantly sort your photos to show only the ones with BOTH you and your dad in them.

To add the third level of sorting for finding the photos with you, your dad and your grandma…CTRL (PC) or CMD (MAC)-click on your grandma’s name tag. It will locate the photo(s) of the three of you. Just. Like. That! Sure beats scanning faces or guessing dates or even typing in tags and captions for searching. See how fun this is? To revert to regular view, just click the green “back to view all” button to try a new double-duty search.

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No Master’s Degree needed! You too can manage people. Under Picasa’s TOOLS menu, choose PEOPLE MANAGER. A window pops up to let you see who you have photographed, and interestingly, how many pics you have of them! Since Picasa is integrated with Google, you have other options for managing contacts and syncing too.

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Some people don’t like that Picasa keeps working in the background to search and sync faces from the photos in your folders. Although you can determine in the TOOLS/FOLDER MANAGER menu exactly which folders should be searched, synced and watched. If you’d rather just turn it off entirely, scroll up to your main folder in the folder list on the lefthand side of the Folder Manager and deselect “Face Detection on” and click OK.


Set your phone’s timer or stopwatch for 15 minutes and open Picasa. Go to the UNNAMED folder under PEOPLE on the left column and start assigning name tags and confirming suggestions. Once you’ve identified (or ignored) all the faces in your photo collection, you can have the ultimate fun of this feature — creating a Face Movie!

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This creates a highlight reel of your photos focused on a single face, which is held in one position while the rest of the image changes. The result is impressive as your child grows up before your eyes in a matter of minutes. It randomly selects photos in chronological order and layers them so it creates a unique “morphing” effect of the face over time. You can edit the photos chosen, the order they’re in, add in slides, modify transitions, include a music track and much more. Then save it and even upload it to YouTube if you’d like. Way. Cool.

In summary, your DAY 8 DUTIES:

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The suggestion & cluster threshold sliders are Picasa’s level of effort in facial recognition accuracy. By default, these are both set at 80 but changing them to 85 limits the false positives.


As much as I find the PEOPLE facial recognition part of Picasa fascinating and helpful, I did learn thatthe “name tags” it generates are saved only within Picasa by default. However, you can — and should — opt to have them added to the XMP metadata section of your images. You first have to open PREFERENCES under the far NAME TAGS tab to check ON enable face detection, enable suggestions and store name tags in photo.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 4.54.53 PMHowever, I found out that this does not go back to record all the ones you’ve already done; it will only affect the ones you will do from now on! So it is critical that you finish this step by going under the TOOLS menu, EXPERIMENTAL, then choose the last one “Write faces to XMP.” It opens a new window asking you to write all or write faces or write selected. Depending on your selection, this may take a while so it may be best to leave your computer to do this while you go to sleep or leave for a while.

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Unlike some of our earlier tasks, this is a relatively low-brainpower one that can be done while watching TV. It may take a while if you have many photos in your collection and this is your first time assigning name tags. But once you’ve caught up, it will be an easy, nearly effortless process. Then you’ll only need to stay on top of the new uploads and suggestions to always have instant access to finding the faces you love in the photos you have!

© 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.