You’ve been using your digital camera a while now, and you’ve finally mastered the process of moving digital photographs from your camera to your computer. Now you just have to organize your photos so that they don’t disappear into the depths of your hard drive. (The vast majority of us clutter up our hard drives, so don’t think you’re alone if you’ve got eighty million files stored on your computer, and you have trouble finding one of them.)
Below are a few ideas to help you find precious digital pictures on your computer. Remember the old adage that information is only as good as your ability to find it.
File them in a logical place. Do not save you digital pictures in an out-of the way place. Be honest — you won’t remember to look for little Jimmy’s piano recital in c:mydocumentsfamilystuffjimmydocs. Store all your pictures in one place, such as “My Pictures”. Then, create sub-folders for each download, such as “Memorial Day 2006”. Most photo software will date your downloaded pictures using a date format. Although accurate, it’s still hard to browse through files such as “03-May-05”. Rename them to something you will remember. (To re-name your files, try right-clicking your mouse on the file name, then typing over the existing name.)
Name each photo. As soon as you download your photographs, take a few minutes to name each picture. Odds are that you will not go back to your files a week later to re-name each picture. And if you do, you might have forgotten details. Remember that your computer doesn’t allow certain characters in file names (like %,$, #), so stick to “Jimmy and Grandpa Fishing May 5 2006”.
Explore on-line photo sharing. You can upload and order prints of your photos using such websites such as Walgreens.com and snapfish.com. Set up a user account and follow the prompts to upload your photos. You can then order prints, share photo albums with other people, and order photo gifts. Realize that this is not a substitute for long-term storage – you still should save your pictures at home.
Backup, backup, backup. It’s a sad day when your computer crashes, erasing your digital pictures. If you don’t have them backed up somewhere, they’re gone. Regularly burn your pictures to CD or DVD. If you’ve got an older computer and it won’t burn disks, ask for an external drive for your birthday. Any IT professional will tell you it’s critical to back up your files on a regular basis. It’s easy to remember to backup at the end of every year, storing a year’s worth of pictures on disk. File them away in a secure space, ideally off-site such as a friend’s house.