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Digital pictures management

An image-files management plan is essential.

Pictures of different subjects should be stored on your computer in a logical manner that keeps them organized for easy retrieval.
Pictures of different subjects should be stored on your computer in a logical manner that keeps them organized for easy retrieval.

Once you have begun to download or scan pictures onto your computer, you will soon find yourself regularly adding more and more of them. As the number of image files begins to grow, you'll quickly realize how important it is to organize and manage them so that you can retrieve any picture with ease.


Before you download your first pictures from your camera to your computer, you should have already worked out where you want to store them. If you don't start out with an image organization plan, within a very short time you could find yourself facing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of image files that are stored in no particular order on your computer, possibly spread out in several locations all over your hard disk. It can be very discouraging to have to begin the huge task of placing so many downloaded pictures in order.

You would be wise to set up your image files organization before you download your first picture.


Start by creating a main folder for all your pictures under which you will create "Category" sub-folders. Under the Category sub-folders, you will create more specifically-named folders in which to place your first downloaded pictures. Sound confusing? It is really quite simple, and the benefit and practicality of such a simple file structure will soon become evident.

  • The first folder: Let us call your main folder something descriptive and simple, like "Photographs," "Pictures," or "Susan's Pictures" (if your name is Susan.) Or, if you are using Windows, you might as well use the folder that was created by Microsoft in Windows for just such a purpose. It's called "My Pictures."
  • The second folder: Open the main folder that you have just created, then create a sub-folder beneath it. Name this second folder with the first category or grouping under which your pictures can be described. You might name it "Family pictures," for example, or "Scenery" or "Travel" or "Animals," depending upon the subjects you photograph.
  • The third folder: Let us say you named your second folder "Family pictures" and that you are ready to download the pictures you took of your son Jimmy's birthday party. Open the "Family pictures" folder and create a third folder under it, entitled "Jimmy's 5th birthday." This is where you should download the pictures from the party.

Within no time, you will probably have many
Within no time, you will probably have many "category" file folders under your main folder. Such an organization makes it simple to keep track of all of your digital images.

It makes more sense to name this image file
It makes more sense to name this image file "andrea-headshot-01.jpg" than "DSCF109.jpg"

In future, create new category folders under the main folder as they are needed, and new specific folders that suit the subjects of your pictures. If you stick to this system, you will always be able to find your pictures quickly because your image storage system was logically organized from the beginning.


It is too easy to just download images into file folders and then ignore giving them descriptive filenames. If you don't name your image files right away as you download them to your computer, you will unquestionably regret it later. They can pile up too quickly, and it is a daunting task to have to rename hundreds and hundreds of image files at a later time. Besides, naming them right away generally ensures more accurately-descriptive filenames since the subjects will be fresh in your memory.

When you give your image files descriptive names, you are actually renaming them. Your pictures already have a filename which they were automatically assigned when they were stored on the memory card in your camera. This name stays with them when they are downloaded. It is generally a combination of letters and numbers in sequence, like DSCF0023 - not very helpful when you are looking for a picture of Grandma or your pet dog, Barney.


It makes a great deal of sense to rename your picture with a descriptive name that identifies the subject. It helps you to better organize them, and makes finding a particular picture much easier.

It is important for you to be able to view the actual picture when you are renaming it. Windows users can see previews of all the images in a folder by opening the folder, clicking on "View" in the task bar, then selecting "Thumbnails" or "Filmstrip." You can achieve the same result by clicking on the "Views" icon in the menu bar.

If you want to see the entire image on your screen, just double-click it. The image will appear in a large size on your monitor.

To see all the images in a folder, click on the
To see all the images in a folder, click on the "Views" icon and select "Thumbnails" or "Filmstrip."

Batch renaming of image files that are similar is a great time-saver.
Batch renaming of image files that are similar is a great time-saver.


To rename a file, you can click once on the filename beneath the picture, then once again to highlight the name. Use your cursor to highlight only that portion of the name you wish to change, then type in the new name. You can also right-click on the image, and select "Rename" from the drop-down menu.

Why would you want to change only a portion of the name? Well, let's say the filename is "DSCF237.jpg" and you want to rename it "jumbo-01.jpg" Drag your cursor to highlight only the DSCF237 portion of the name, then type "jumbo-01". The .jpg suffix remains intact without you having to retype it.


When you download several digital pictures that are similar and that can be renamed with one filename and sequential numbering [e.g. vacation (1); vacation (2); vacation (3), etc.], you can rename them all at once if you wish.

Here's how. In thumbnail viewing mode, select all the images that are similar enough to have the same key name. Do this by clicking on the first image in the series and then, while holding down the SHIFT key, click on the last image in the series. That will highlight them all. If the images you wish to rename with the same name do not appear one immediately after the other in the file folder, you can selectively highlight just the images you want to batch rename by holding down CTRL - the control key - and clicking on each image.

Now, right-click on the first highlighted image, then select "Rename" from the drop-down menu. Type in a new name that applies to all of the pictures, for example, "holiday-2006" and press ENTER on your keyboard. Every one of the highlighted pictures will be renamed with the new name followed by a distinct, sequential number in brackets [i.e. "holiday-2006 (1)"; "holiday-2006 (2)"; "holiday-2006 (3)", and so on].

You can also manually rename a series of image files. It's more tedious, but gives you more naming options. You won't be restricted to bracketed numbers at the end of the filenames, for instance. You can use any numbering system you like. Keep in mind, though, that if you are renaming a large number of image files with the same key name, you should use zeros when numbering them. If, for instance, you have more than a hundred similar vacation picture files, then begin naming and numbering them with vacation-001, then vacation-002 and so on. If you leave out the zeros, then vacation-1 and vacation-2 will not appear first and second in the sequence.


There are a number of computer applications that can handle much of the organization of your digital image files for you, including much more versatile batch re-naming than described above. They are known as cataloging programs, and allow you to quickly rename and move image files.

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