How you can picture yourself organized

FI-Log-On-With-Larry-SchneiderDear Larry,
I’m really getting into digital photography now, but at the same time, I find I’m overrun with pictures on my computer with no real sense of organization. Any suggestions?

P. H.


Dear P. H.,

I can remember a day when our bookshelves were overrun with photo albums. While in many homes they still are, these days all the new photos are filling up a hard drive instead of a shelf.

Organization is everything when it comes to your precious photographs, and it’s not as hard as you think to be able to organize your photo collection exactly the way you want it.

To begin with, invest the time and organize at the folder level within Windows. If all of your pictures are not already in your My Pictures folder, move them there. Then employ a consistent naming convention for all your folders. My recommendation is to name each folder with the year, month and day of the event followed by a description. For example, call your files something along the lines of “2006-06-25 Baby naming for Rachel” or “2005-04-08  Mary’s birthday party” or “2004-11-17 Vacation in the Bahamas.” By following this convention, your picture folders will be organized and sorted chronologically.

If you’re not already viewing your folders with thumbnails on, try it out. Thumbnails of folders display a sampling of pictures within the folder. Thumbnails of photos themselves display a mini version of the photo. To turn on the thumbnail view for any folder, all you do is press Alt, View, Large Icons (or Thumbnails) in the menu bar.

By the way, if you’re not happy with the pictures that show up on a folder thumbnail, right-click the folder icon, then click Properties and Customize. Then you can select which picture is displayed within the folder thumbnail icon.

Next, use a good program to further organize, manage and edit your photos. A very good choice is Google’s Picasa because not only is it pretty easy to use, it’s free. You can get it by visiting to download and install it.

Among its many features, Picasa allows you to organize your photos into virtual folders called “albums” (“labels” in older versions of Picasa). Photos are physically organized into folders on your hard drive, but within Picasa, you can also create these albums to organize pictures in other ways.

For example, you can click File, New Album and create an album called Baby Sarah. Then drag every picture of Sarah that you have into this new virtual album. The pictures remain in the folders in which they already reside. However, they’ll also appear in the new album as well. This way, not only can you find your pictures of Sarah in the chronological folders but you’ll also be able to see them in one central location: your new album. It may look to you as if you now have multiple copies of the same picture, but you don’t. Picasa is simply allowing you to organize your pictures in different ways.

Last but not least, if you’re not already backing up your pictures to an external hard drive or storing an extra copy in some other physical medium or location, then you’re asking for trouble. One day, your hard drive may decide to up and die, and without a good backup, all your photographic memories will die right along with it.

This is Larry Schneider, logging off.

Larry Schneider is the owner of Accent on Computers, a Greenwich-based consulting firm — now in its 15th year of business — catering to individuals, businesses and professional offices. PC and Mac services include computer setup, training, troubleshooting, virus resolution, networking, Internet, database, and programming. Call 203-625-7575, visit or send email to [email protected]

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