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How To Organize Digital Files and Photos

By Staff Writer
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Taking the time to organize digital files and photos can be daunting. When you're capturing life's most precious moments, you often end up with more candids than anticipated. If you've always got a lot of collections on the go, it's easy for your file storage to get out of hand. Trying to find what you need at any given moment becomes a struggle. The good news is there are simple solutions to help you get your organization back on track.

01

Decide what storage issue you're having

Not all storage solutions are created equal. Resist the urge to jump straight into organizing. Instead, figure out where you struggle the most with keeping your files organized and accessible first. Perhaps you're great at effectively naming your files but aren't good at putting them into folders. Pinpoint the problem and start there. Then, think about how you normally use your digital files. Do you update them often? You'll need storage that keeps track of your changes. You have to choose what works best for how your brain functions.

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02

Delete and archive unnecessary files

It's important to begin the organization process by purging files you don't need. Otherwise, you may get overwhelmed. Take advantage of software that checks for accidentally duplicated files and images. Then, take some time to delete any images that are blurry or unneeded. Use the search function to pinpoint a timeframe for files you can delete. You may find yourself with too many files to get through; archive them for later and start fresh!

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03

Choose a storage solution

Decide where you want to store your files. Consider how easily you can access them, how often you'll need them, where you'll access them—usually on a phone or laptop—and how much capacity you need. You can choose a cloud-based, external, or hard drive storage solution. Pick the best option for how you use your digital files.

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04

Define your organizational style

Categories are your best friend when it comes to organizing files and images. Some options include organizing based on projects, timelines, events, or locations. You may even find that you need a combination of categories based on the files you want to sort. Most mobile devices automatically place images into categories or chronological order, but you can still set additional parameters, such as by occasion.

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05

Choose a folder system

Create a hierarchy for your files to avoid too many broad folders. For example, say you are organizing images from events. You can use folder nesting to create a hierarchy with subfolders that look something like this: Events>Event Title>Year. Most times, you'll end up with tons of images from an event and need to narrow this down more. You can add subfolders for presenters, decor, location, and more. This hierarchy can be used in many different ways for all of your digital files.

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06

Create a naming system

Use a standard naming system for all your files to ensure effective results from your searches. They can be as simple as name_date or more intricate like date_name_location_event. Whichever you choose, stay consistent each time you save a new file or image.

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07

Use tags, labels, and colors

Once your files are safely stored away, create tags or labels for your most commonly used items so you can find what you need in one click. You can use tags for specific things like family photos or your cousin's graduation. If you're organizing files in your inbox, you can choose labels or assign specific colors to documents or emails based on their content. You can search by tag, label, or color to pull up the specific category of files you need.

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08

Don't forget security

This should go without saying, but you shouldn't forget to set security measures for sensitive documents. You can apply passwords and be cautious about who can access the files at any given time. If you're just taking pictures for fun or jotting down your thoughts in a word processor, it might not be such a big deal, but most of us have some private files on our computers, and those might call for a bit more protection.

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09

Keep up with filing

Storing and keeping your digital files organized is a lifelong process. It doesn't just happen once, and then you can forget it. That's how you got here in the first place, right? Remember to file your documents or images immediately. Name, label, and store files as soon as they're created. It's the most efficient way to stay on top of them. In addition, you can schedule file maintenance times. You may prefer working in batches and dedicating time once a week to organize them all at once.

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10

Declutter often

Decluttering your file storage is an ongoing process and a huge part of your overall file maintenance. Make a habit of regularly clearing out unnecessary files. You can look into automating your organization using online tools like Zapier if you're feeling less than thrilled about the upkeep. Even with help from an online tool, though, you need to do a little leg work to keep files and images well organized.

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