Hey Lifehacker, Over the years I have amassed tens of thousands of photos spanning many different digital cameras. I've backed up the photos multiple times in multiple directories across multiple drives. To make matters worse, since I've used multiple cameras a lot of the jpg file names are the same, but are in fact different pictures. How do I filter, de-dupe and clean up my digital photos? Help me Lifehacker! Thanks, Photo Overload
Digital photos picture from Shutterstock
Sorting out your digital photo archive can be a real nightmare. The first step is to sweep away all the clutter by minimising the duplicates. In addition to making things less messy and more streamlined, this will also free up hard drive space which is never a bad thing.
DupliFinder is an old workhorse of a de-dupe application that lets you compare and delete duplicate images on Windows machines. It sifts through image files pixel by pixel and tells you if they're a match which makes it perfect for cleaning up your photo library.
VisiPics is another option that's worth checking out. It scans the photo content of each image file and then groups matches together. You can also adjust the match intensity via a sliding scale which is handy if you want to delete very similar photos that were taken in the same location. VisiPics can take its sweet time to complete a scan, but it's capable of chugging away in the background without slowing down your computer.
Windows users can also employ Duplicate Commander to remove the extra copies and replace them with hard links. Just be mindful that the tool may remove different images that have the same file name, so use with caution. Windows, Mac and Linux users can also check out Duplicate File Searcher.
Once you've banished your unwanted duplicates it will be time to rename what's left in a bid to make photo management more er, manageable. There are plenty of batch rename apps that can help in this department. Examples we've looked at in the past include Rapid Streams (Windows), Name Changer (Mac) and Bulk Rename Utility (Windows). OS X also comes with a built-in Automator tool which can accomplish the same results.
Now that things are slightly less terrifying, you may want to invest your time in a digital photo organiser. Just be aware that solutions like Picasa and iPhoto can leave you effectively locked in, since they mess with your directory structure, which can make your next clean-up equally painful.
As always, if any readers have their own photo organisation tips and suggestions, please let PO know in the comments section below.
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