I’ve been helping a friend of mine do some house-cleaning in his computer and it dawned on me that there are probably several of my readers who are suffering the same problems he’s been having with his digital photo collection. I know that I’ve had these problems too. Through many, many methods of trial and error I finally got a handle on my photo collection so I’d like to pass along some ideas that’ll cut down the time it takes you to get everything in order on your computer.
First, let’s tackle the dreaded duplicate files. No one ever remembers how it happens or what they did, but all of a sudden you start to find that you have copies of copies of copies of photos in several different folders spread out all over the computer hard drive. Usually this happens when you purchase a new program like Photoshop Elements or you start using a free program like Google’s Picasa and the software asks you if you’d like to “import” your photos into your library. Somehow or another we all make the same mistake and the software ends up making copies of all the photos and storing them in the folder IT wants to use for your photo catalog. This not only creates a mess of your hard drive but it also will slow things down considerably because it’s taking up valuable storage space on your computer. Well, don’t fear…there’s a few software solutions out there that will help in eliminating these duplicates and getting you back to square one. I’d like to recommend one that I know is really good at doing the job. That’s Auslogics Duplicate File Finder (http://www.auslogics.com/en/software/duplicate-file-finder/). This program is free to use and it’s very powerful and feature packed. It gives you total control over what files you are searching for and where you want to search as well as performing its search not only on the external features of the files but also the content of the files. Download this and run it on you photo folder and then let the program help you decide which files to get rid of and which to keep.
The next thing you want to do is get your files in some sort of logical order so you can find the photos you want to look at without having to spend a lot of time searching through meaningless folders. For this, I’m going to turn you over to another program called Organize Photos By Date (http://www.photo-organizer.net/organize-photos-pictures-images-jpg-by-date-taken.htm). You can download and install a trial version to see if you like it but it’ll only let you do five files at a time. The $19.95 for the full version is well worth the investment when you see how much time it’s going to save you. With this program you simply tell it where the files are that you want to organize, then choose a folder structure that you want it to put them in and let it do it’s work from there. I like to have my folders named after the date the photos were taken, such as: “2012 01 01” and “2012 01 02” for the first and second of January. I put them in year, month, day order so that when I open my file explorer they show up in order by year then month then day. The software will read the data that is attached to your photos that show when the pictures were taken or created on your computer and it’ll “automagically” create the folders for you in the order you choose. Just take my advice on this; when you do the organizing, have the program “Copy” the files to a folder that’s not in your photo folder first. This way, if you don’t like the way it worked you can just delete the ones that it copied and start over again. Once you’re happy with the results you can simply “Move” the original files out of your photos folder and into a third temporary folder, then “Move” the newly organized photos into your photos folder and make sure all went well. If so, delete the old photos out of the other temporary folder.
I hope that made sense. If not, get in touch with me and I can either walk you through it or I’ll gladly offer my services to help you with the process. Trust me, it’ll make things so much easier for you and your photo software in the long run!
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