How To Keep Photos Organized On Your Computer

I have been wanting to tackle this post forever! I am excited to share with you all how I keep my thousands upon thousands of photos organized on my computer. As many of you know, I started out as a photographer many years ago, and as soon as digital SLRs came on the scene and Andy was born, my picture taking went into overdrive! For years I struggled with just how to make sure I was going to be able to find all of those precious photos in the future. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I can literally take more than 10,000 photos between my phone and my DSLR on a good vacation. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yep. I’m crazy. Over the years I have tried to get better about selectively shooting and erasing as I go, but needless to say, there are too many pictures to count. ๐Ÿ™‚ So, if you are a photog like me, here is a simple way…and frankly the best way I have found, how to keep photos organized on your computer.

How to organize pictures on your computer

The best part about this system is you can start it today! Don’t worry about all the other pictures you have on your computer, you can deal with those later. Just start today with what you are taking now. I’ll show you an easy way to tackle those old pictures in a bit. 

I have to say I started doing this pre iPhone, so they may want to give me credit…lol ๐Ÿ˜‰ I organize my images in a very similar way to what you see on your phone when you go into “All Photos.” There you can search by Years, Months and Days, which is so nice. Well, I created a similar system on my desktop.

Every January I start a new folder titled with the year and pictures as the title, for example, “2021 Pictures.”  Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like on my desktop…

how to organize photos on your computer

Usually, when we’re hunting for a particular picture, it’s easy to remember what year, or approximately which year we are looking for. Having all our pictures categorized by year is the first step to making organizing photos on your computer easy, and more importantly, easy to find again in the future!

Once I have a year folder, I break it down even further, into months like this:

how to organize photos on your computer

Throughout the month, as I transfer photos onto my computer from my camera, I add them to the folder of the month they were taken…but, I break it down even one step further.

Within each month’s folder, I separate the photos into their own folder named after the event or grouping that will make it easy for me to find in the future, like this example from my March 2020 folder:

how to organize pictures on your computer

When I click on the “Ashley Birthday” folder this is what it looks like:

how to organize pictures on your computer

All of the pictures I took and saved from her birthday are there, easy to find and grab again if I ever need them or want to look at them!

How easy is that?! I can’t tell you how helpful it has been for things like school projects. I can’t even count how many times the kids have come home with some sort of request for 3 pictures from their childhood…one as a baby, etc. It makes it incredibly easy to pull up whatever they need in a flash!

I’m not quite as good about doing this, but I try to remember to import my pictures from my phone each month too and add it to the monthly folder so that I have back-ups and everything in one spot. 

So, I promised that I would help you tackle all of those old pictures on the computer too. Here is what I recommend. This can be a little bit more of a project, but if you are determined to get them organized, here is the easiest way I have found. And I apologize in advance, because I work on a MAC, so that is what I have to show you as an example, but PCs have similar functions, so hopefully this will help! ๐Ÿ™‚

When you open up your desktop or wherever you store your pictures, you can look at them in list view as opposed to a thumbnail view, like this:

how to organize pictures on your computer

Now take a look at that column titled “date modified.” Rather than looking at this list organized alphabetically with the column on the far left, you can click on that little “date modified” header to toggle all those files into an order by date. How awesome is that?

So, if I wanted to work on getting these photos organized I would first create a “2006 Pictures” folder, then within that folder a new “January 2006” folder. Once I had done that I would simply go into list view, toggle the files to be categorized by “date modified”, and then copy and paste all those January 2006 files into that new January 2006 folder. Wa-la! 

To start, with these older photos, I wouldn’t worry so much about separating them into those more specific folders within each month like the “Ashley’s Birthday” folder above. I would just worry about first getting them all into an appropriate Year/Month folder and then you can worry about further organizing them in the future if you have all kinds of free time. ๐Ÿ˜‰ lol!

I hope that you find that to be an easy way to organize your pictures and that I have done a clear enough job of explaining how I do it! ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

How do you organize photos on your computer? I love to know what other people are doing, because there may be a better way out there! Let me know in the comments what system you use and what you think about this way of doing things. 

I know the next question I’ll probably be asked is how I store/back-up so many digital images. I’ll work on that post next! ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

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Happy Organizing!



Creative Director at Pink Peppermint Design
Tammy Mitchell is the founder and creative director of lifestyle blog Along with being a homeschooling mom of two kiddos, she is also an in-demand prop and event stylist, photographer, interior and graphic designer. On Pink Peppermint Design, she shares creative DIY projects, easy entertaining and gift ideas, inspiring interiors and events. She lives in Southern California, with her husband and two children.

how to organize pictures on your computer

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