Top 10 Ways To Improve Your Messy Photo Collection

Top 10 Ways To Improve Your Messy Photo Collection

Our photo collections have a way of growing and multiplying like weeds, and tidying all the photos up can be a daunting task. With the right tools and approach, however, organising all our photos is less of a chore.

10. Clean Up Duplicates, Bad Dates And Other Issues

Ever have a set of photos think they’re from another date in the future? You can fix this metadata issue with a few useful tools, get rid of duplicate photos, and otherwise make more sense of your photo collection. You can also quickly rename photo (and other) files in bulk.

9. Easily And Automatically Share Your Photos Everywhere

If you like sharing photos, you can use Wappwolf or IFTTT to automatically upload your photos to services like Facebook and Flickr. Admittedly, this doesn’t really keep your computer’s photos folder from being a mess, but your favourite photo sharing sites will have all the photos you want uploaded without any work on your part.

8. Automatically Upload All Your Photos To Flickr

Similarly, after installing Flickr’s new photo tools on your computer and/or phone, you can have all your photos automatically backed up/shared in one place — up to a free 1 TB’s worth of space. Even if your computer’s photos folder is disorganised, on Flickr you can automagically sort by photo categories or date and bulk edit the photos’ metadata.

7. Use Dropbox Instead Of Photo Management Apps

If you prefer Dropbox, in three steps you can get all your photos organised in Dropbox and not bother with photo management software. You just need a clear folder structure and syncing turned on. As a bonus, you can use Wappwolf to automatically edit photos before saving them to Dropbox.

6. Or Use Google Photos As Your Photo Management Tool

Google Photos (formerly Google+ Photos) is our favourite photo hosting site — better than Dropbox when it comes to free storage space and editing tools. You can automatically back up photos to Google with unlimited storage space, and intelligently search your photo collection with some Google-fu, or just enjoy Google Photo’s auto-organisation of your photos.

5. Sync And Sort Your Photos In OS X’s New Photos App

In the new Photos app on Mac, you can sync the photos across your devices either through iCloud or My Photo Stream. Here’s how. Also, you can use Photo’s “Smart Albums” feature to automatically sort your photos and rearrange them by your favourites, specific dates, and more — or use Hazel to sort by location. You might want to add some Automator actions too, for tasks like adding photos to specific albums.

4. Tackle Generations’ Worth Of Family Photos Strategically

There really is no easy way to tackle a gazillion photo prints, negatives and digital photos. You can, however, approach this daunting task with a plan. Lifehacker readers suggest starting with the oldest relative and then going down the family age tree, using Picassa’s face recognition feature, scanning and saving photos into folders organised by family person’s name, and/or organising photos by “era”. Organise as you go.

3. Future-Proof Your Digital Photos With Smithsonian Institute-Level Archiving

Digital photos are great, but we all probably have way too many of them. Delete bad photos, print out the best ones, and back up, back up and back up. It takes time and effort, but if you want your photos to last forever, that constant photo processing is necessary. Even 10 minutes a day of organising during TV commercials will help get your photo collection under control.

2. Get All Your Photos In One Place

You probably have photos buried in your emails. Scattered across your phone, tablet, and computer. Scattered across the web. Choose one folder to store your photos, and use tools like Lost Photos for email or even Facebook’s shared photo albums to consolidate your photos into one place. (You can archive every photo you’re tagged in on Facebook or elsewhere too.) If photos are stuck on your phone and not automatically backed up to Dropbox, Google, OneDrive or the other tons of photo organisation tools, you’ll need to regularly manually import those photos. Also, remember to back up that consolidated photos folder, wherever it’s hosted, lest you lose your most important files.

1. Use A Folder And File Naming Structure That Makes Sense

To really get your photos under control, whether just for you or if they’re shared photos, you’ll I organise by year, then monthly subfolder YYYY-MM, and then special occasion subfolders within the month, separating original photos from edited ones, but you can use any organisation system that makes sense to you. Whatever you do, just like you need to have a system for organising your other digital and non-digital files, make it as easy as possible for your future self to find the pictures you’re looking for. (And did I mention you should back up your photos?)


  • I use QuickPic for Android to batch rename my photos before I delete any. I rename the photos in the following format… YYYY-MM-DD keywords.jpg this way I can sort them by date or search for them by the subject. “keywords” usually have the name of the people involved and the location.
    Eg. 2015-06-24 dad son Dockers football.jpg

  • Do not store them in the cloud, you will lose them and someone will use them, eventually.
    As Pjeaje mentions above, rename in yyyy-mm-dd-hr-min-sec-number.
    Then if you have photos of a wedding create a folder for that event and copy the photos to that folder. In a few years time you can delete the folder with all the photos and still have a copy.
    Keep a backup of all photos on another drive like a nas, server or portable drive.
    Storage is not expensive and your photos are worth every penny you spend on them now for the future.
    Keep a record of events in a document file within your photo folders to help find specific photos quickly.

    • Do not store them in the cloud, you will lose them and someone will use them, eventually.

      What do you mean? You won’t lose them and if they’re in your account, someone else won’t use them.

      Cloud storage should be used in addition to another backup. I have my photos backed up on two separate 1TB hard drives, and am moving them all into Google Photos with the recent updates.

      • Will the company that stores your data in the cloud still be around in 10 or 20 years?
        Will a hacker find a way in?
        Will someone in the company that stores your data like what they see?
        I do not know the answers but the history in my photo collection is not worth the risk.

  • I use PhotoTime app for iPhone to auto-tagging and organize my photos across different platforms.

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