How to Organize Your Photos

Have you ever needed a photo for something but couldn’t, for the life of you, find where it was on your computer? This used to happen to me quite often, so I decided I needed a better system for organizing all of my photos. It’s been working well so far, so I thought I would share!


All of my personal pictures live in the “Pictures” folder on my Mac. Windows computers also have a folder like this. Inside this folder, I have subfolders for each year. Then there are folders for each month, then each event during the month. In case this doesn’t make sense, here’s a visual example:

          01-01-2012 New Years Party
          01-13-2012 Birthday Party

File Names

As you can see above, I also make sure to rename all of my photos from the default camera file name (usually DSC0001.jpg or the like) to be more descriptive of the picture. This way, if a file gets moved or separated somehow, I’ll have an idea of what the picture is and where it belongs. I always include the date the images were taken, a description of the event, and then the picture count. EX: MMDDYY-event-name-001.jpg. There are a few ways to do this: manually, in Lightroom, and in Photoshop.

Manually: obviously it would take a lot of time to physically re-name each file. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this way! ;)

Lightroom: I’m not sure how many of you out there use Lightroom to edit your photos, but when you’re exporting all of your images, you can make custom file names upon export. In the export menu, under File Naming, select Rename To:, then select Edit from the drop down menu, and type in the file name you’d like.

To create the sequence count (ie 01, 02, 03 at the end of the file name), just insert a Sequence #.

Photoshop: Photoshop (the full version, not Elements, although I’m sure there’s a similar way to do this in Elements) has a nifty bulk renaming tool. You actually have to open Bridge, which is a file browsing application that comes with Photoshop. Browse for the folder that includes the files you want to rename, and highlight all of the files you want to rename. (Hint: use Shift+click to select all of the files between two files, and use Control+click or Command+click to select multiple individual images.) Once you have the images selected, click Tools, Batch Rename. You can rename in the same folder or a different folder, and then you just choose the file name for Bridge to use. I’d just use one Text box and one Sequence box, as seen below. You can also preview what the file names will look like at the bottom.

I hope this inspires you to re-organize your own personal photos! This system makes is SUPER easy to create yearly family photo books or find specific pictures when you need them. How do you organize your photos?

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