Works For Me: Organizing Digital Pictures

Wfmwheader About five years ago, I ditched my film camera for an upgrade to digital.  I was enamoured with this new technology, and I click-click-clicked away with happy little fingers, downloading hundreds of pictures into every nook and cranny of my computer.

After a few months of this, I sat down to place my first big digital picture order.  And I realized I had not the foggiest idea where any of my digital photo files were.   And when I finally did locate most of them, I couldn’t recall–had this one already been printed out?  Did I already download that one to the photo site?

This little photographic crisis taught me that I needed a system for keeping up with all these digital shots.  Over the years, I’ve found a plan that works pretty well for me.   

First, in the My Photos folder under My Documents (I know I’m talking Microsoft, so you Mac-lovers try to hold your disdain), I created a folder called NYD (Not Yet Developed).  Anytime I download pictures off my camera, I make sure they’re going straight to that folder, and nowhere else.  Then I immediately delete them off the camera.   

I keep photos sitting in my NYD folder until I have enough saved up for a print order.  I try to do this every couple of months to avoid ridiculously expensive orders.  I upload to the print site directly from the NYD folder.  Then–this is the important part–I move photos out of the NYD folder to their permanent home.  In my case, this is a set of folders organized by year and season (Spring 2005, Summer 2003, etc.)  If I don’t immediately move them, I find that I tend to forget they’ve been developed and I re-order them on accident. 

It’s a simple little system (and you’ve probably all been doing this for ages and you’re thinking "System?  She calls that a system? " but humor me, okay?)  It has saved me much time and money having a plan in place.

By the way, my favorite photo printing site is Shutterfly.  If you’ve found one that you love, please share it in the comments section!

Have a clever idea you’d like to share?  Blog about it at your place and leave a link below.  WFMW guidelines can be found here.

1. The Pumkin Patch
2. The Lazy Organizer (teach kids to work)
3. Michelle at Scribbit (gardening)
4. An Ordinary Mom (Alec\’s Law – back up responsibly)
5. Smockity Frocks (DIY Portraits)
6. Chrystal (Frugal Preschooling)
7. Beth F. (pretty finger nails!)
8. Life with Littles(Corny but Fun)
9. Lori – Queen of Dirty Laundry (Control Toy Chaos)
10. Tammy\’s Recipes (more veggies)
11. OW (free customized ring tones)
12. Tales from the Scales–planning portions
13. Cherish The Home (Keeping Soda From Going Flat)
14. Elizabeth (Flaky Pie Crusts)
15. Joyful Days (fun crafting tools)
16. Wooden Porch (take better pictures)
17. Our Side (Eczema Treatment)
18. KD (Easy Shaving)
19. Jordan @ MamaBlogga (clean out closets)
20. Soggy Cheerios
21. Finally Five Minutes to Myself
22. The Building Brows (Epiphany: Shaving Cream Alternative)
23. Military Mommy(Cheap,Easy Chicken Broth)
24. Lela (Shipping Books)
25. The Preacher\’s Wife – Loser Mom Ice Pack
26. Alexandra(Decorating Doorways)
27. Sincerely Anna (Abadaba Alphabet — pre-reading)
28. Jessica (shopping specific colors)
29. Owlhaven (packing for a trip)
30. noodle
31. Robin (buying bananas)
32. Michelle (Sundae Sunday)
33. Amy Jane (Most of us have time!)
34. Jennifer, Snapshot (potty training)
35. Anne (my timer)
36. Stephanie (shredded paper)
37. Mama Says (Save time and $ on laundry)
38. Tara (kid wrangling)
39. Girl Gone Wild (Miracle Salve)
40. Carol (hand soap in the kitchen)
41. Mom in Action (Drycleaning tip)
42. Song of the Sagebrush (Bulk Food Shopping)
43. Elizabeth
44. Beth/Mom2TwoVikings (crayon removal from walls)
45. Amy (volunteer from home)
46. Heather L. (ice packs)
47. Connie (onion cleanup)
48. Mama Duck (homemade glass cleaner)
49. Rebecca (De-stressing husbands)
50. ThoughtfulMom (Wall Art)
51. Jessica (Baby Shower Game)
52. What About Mom? (napping, “self-entertain”)
53. Amblin(dairy egg free lemon cookie)
54. Mama Russell (getting rid of clutter)
55. Barbara H. (“Thy list be done”)
56. Eva (Toilet Training Essentials)
57. Toni (mopping made easy)
58. Hoemschool Mama (Trip Planning Sites)
Trixie @ Farm Home Life (Jewlery Cleaning)

60. Neighbor Jane (vases)
61. Lady Why (stair basket)
62. JanB (online food diary)
63. Kathy (End to whining)
64. Ann Kroeker (surviving crazy-busy end-of-school activities)
65. Cammie (Mess free meals)
66. MC Milker ( daily rhythm)
67. Viscountess (Real Rewards for Shopping Online)
68. Mandy (kids & chores)
69. Elena (Dover art)
70. Bryan (memory)
71. Madridmom (mother\’s day cards)
72. Aubrey (free moving boxes)
73. SeaBird (Introducing Kids to Spanish)
74. Jennifer (spending special time with children)
75. Laura
76. Whymommy (Cut yourself some slack!)
77. Darcy (Grocery Shopping Prep)
78. Crystal @ Biblical Womanhood (my timer is my best friend!)
79. The Cheerio Queen (mess free grilled sandwiches)
80. Mummymac (Free Meals)
81. So Many Joys (Easy $$! –ebates)
82. Jill
83. jen (WDW w/ young\’uns)
84. Jill (easier deviled eggs)
85. Kara (feed reader)
86. Shelly (Baby Things)
87. Kim (* take cool pictures!*)
88. Carrie (more efficient grocery shopping)
89. The Estrogen Files (spelling helper)
90. GP in Montana
91. J. Fergie
92. J. Fergie (taco casserole)
93. LammyAnn: Frame Facelift
94. Digital Mama (Docs to Go)
95. cmhl (easy dinner for busy nights!)
96. Karen L
97. Christine (Lazy Susan for Undersink)
98. Amber (super soft lips)
99. Karen (bath storage)
100. Elizabeth (taming the sock monster)
101. Tammy (The Ultimate 1st Birthday Gift)
102. The Family CEO (photographing books for eBay)
103. The Wuggy Chronicles (better biscuits and pastries)
104. Sarah (Learning Left from Right)
105. Dee (Easy Sunday Mornings)
106. mistihollrah
107. Kahri (Munchkin)
108. Ashley (washable crayons)
109. Christine (affordable handwriting/copywork materials)
110. Liza\’s Eyeview
111. Angelena
112. Angelena (summertime fun free and frugal )
113. Liza\’s Eyeview (His Needs Ner Needs For Parents)
114. MommaBlogger (Product Review)
115. Proverbs 31 (cheap GOOD trash bags)
116. jenn (cereal containers)
117. Tessa (Bring Your Own Vase)
118. Pastormacโ€™s Ann ( sneaking in veggies)
119. Amy (1 coupon a week)
120. a suburban housewife (frozen cookie dough)
121. Laura (no drip pb&j sandwiches)
122. Jessica (grocery store)
123. Mrs. X (fun with food)
124. Shauna (letterboxing)
125. Crystal(occupy toddler on airplane)
126. Kathleen Marie (plants plus driving)
127. R (unloading groceries w/ toddler)
128. Joo (veggie storage)
129. Kim – Finding a Date Night Babysitter
130. Sam(antha) (Library Book Piles)
131. Ang (no spill coffee)
132. McFearsome (supplementing your library)
133. Jenny (make-shift funnels)
134. Stephanie
135. Melissa- 1.5 pt Delicious Pancakes
136. Totallyscrappy
137. Laura (speed up coffee prep)
138. Dawn (At-Home Salad Bar)
139. Jaime (easy pumpkin CC cookies)
140. Lindsay (frozen juice)
141. Barbie (saving lives for FREE)
142. Bethany (Once a Month Cooking )
143. Amanda (Homeschool Momma)
144. Amanda (what to do with your favorite recipes)
145. branson show tickets

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54 thoughts on “Works For Me: Organizing Digital Pictures

  1. Trista says:

    I am SO behind on getting my pictures printed! I use Snapfish…but I haven’t gotten any printed in I bet a year! I know….I need to get with it!

  2. Michelle at Scribbit says:

    This just reminds me of how I used to, every January, religiously update all my family’s scrapbooks. I printed off the pictures for the year and did the Good Mom Thing.
    Then I started blogging.
    I haven’t updated any in a year and a half. Sigh.

  3. Chrystal says:

    Well, I am a MAC user ๐Ÿ™‚ but my system is pretty similar to yours. My folder is called “Photos to Print”. The sad part is that I’ve had my digital for almost a year and STILL haven’t printed. I have virtually scrapbooked through my blog and I think it’s made me lazy on the actual printing. I’m so behind.
    I’m a wanna-be scrapbooker that can’t seem to get anything done because I want the pictures to be so pretty.
    Oh well. One day ๐Ÿ™‚
    I use Snapfish or Costo. I have yet to try Shutterfly but I will! I’ve heard good things from many people.

  4. Overwhelmed! says:

    I have a little system for my digital photos as well. I upload them into monthly folders, then I upload them to Snapfish, then within Snapfish I mark the best ones as a “Favorite”, and then I order those favorites. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. KD says:

    Thanks Shannon for your idea and for hosting the Works for Me Wednesdays each week. It’s wonderful to have one place to get such good ideas!

  6. Diatribal says:

    Great Tip. I just had one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments while reading! I use and
    With Walmart’s photo site, you can upload and have them printed in an hour. Then you just go to your local wally-world and pick them up. It’s the BEST when you remember on the last day that you don’t have your Christmas Cards ready to go out yet. (Yeah, y’all keep on pretending you don’t know what I’m talking about!!!!) We use it all the time!

  7. Amber says:

    Apparently I’m linky-loo deficiant. My WFMW post is a lesson we did last week on “first time listening” in order to take back control.
    I’m impressed that you print out pictures at all- I don’t know that I’ve ever done a huge order/print out. I usually only print out 1 at a time when one kid needs a picture for school or something.

  8. Jessica Snell says:

    We really like printing ours out at Sam’s Club. The prices are good, and we can order them online, and then pick them up along with the groceries. Pretty convenient!
    peace of Christ to you,
    Jessica Snell

  9. Emma says:

    I’m inspired to organise my “photos” folder! I’ve been putting this off for so long =) Great tip!

  10. Amy Jane says:

    We just flip through our digital pix on the computer when we want to look at at stuff.
    I wouldn’t dare make a blanket run of prints– nothing would happen to them and I’d have more stuff to sort!

  11. Carol says:

    Great system!
    Do you do backup disks, too? Seems like a lot of trouble, but I can also see where I’d be steamed if I lost the pics in the HD.

  12. Heather L. says:

    Great tip! I don’t do anything like this and I really should! I usually take my SD card to the store and have them printed off, but it looks like Shutterfly may be cheaper.
    Thanks for hosting!

  13. ThoughtfulMom says:

    I have a similar filing system for my digital pictures. And this month, after having to order seven months of prints at once, I made a rule that I will place a print order every three months.
    It works for me – and you too, apparently. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Barbara H. says:

    I resisted digital cameras for a long time, but I love them now. Ours go into a program called Picasa. I don’t know if there is a way to separate the developed from the non-developed there, but since I am behind on my photo albums, it is a nice place to keep them all until I can get to them (as opposed to the shoebox my pre-digital pictures are in.) With all but one grandparent gone now, we don’t print off as many to send out to others.

  15. Toni says:

    I hardly ever order hard copies of my photos but still use a system like this. My NYD folder is called Pics In Progress and basically that means that any photo it contains has not yet been captioned, red-eye removed, cropped, etc. and uploaded to my digital album of choice: Phanfare. Once they are uploaded I delete the pictures from my hardrive because Phanfare maintains multiple backups and I can download or send a high-res image to print directly from their site whenever I need. I think this age of digital cameras encourages us to take more pictures than ever. A person definitely needs a system for keeping track of them all. Thank you for sharing yours today.

  16. Eva says:

    I used Shutterfly till my prints started coming back looking bad…the color wasn’t great and they were cut crooked. I switched to Wal-Mart’s instore printing, which was okay. I have tried the Creative Memories website’s printing, and I love it. I don’t think far enough ahead to send away my prints, though, and usually get them done at Wal-Mart or Walgreens on the day of some scrapbooking event. Then it costs a hundred dollars!!

  17. Mandy says:

    Shannon, I could kiss you for that digital photos system! I have wasted so much money on double and triple orders. Worse, I have no idea what photos on my computer I DON’T have printed out at all! Thank you, thank you!

  18. Melanie says:

    Have you ever tried Picasa? It’s free, and it searches your computer for you to find pictures, in case you accidentally stuck them somewhere you didn’t intend to. You can tell it to search everything, or just a few select things like My Documents and My Pictures. It even has a bit of photo editing with it.

  19. Amy says:

    Take it from someone who recently LOST ALL THE PICTURES ON MY COMPUTER…. print those babies off and then burn them to CD for safekeeping. (Now if only I would take my own advice…)
    I use the 1-hour printing at WalMart. I do it right before a planned trip to WalMart, so I can just pick them up while we’re there. It’s quick & easy, and only $ .19 per print.

  20. Shelly says:

    I’ve used shutterfly, but I like Kodak Gallery. I have a Kodak camera and can upload right from my easyshare software into Kodak’s website for sharing, printing and creating gifts.
    I do all my cards online now and send them right to the recipiants!

  21. Shannon says:

    Thanks for the tip. How is Shutterfly as far as color saturation? Hubby and I are trying to find a photo printing company that does not over saturate the greens…we’d rather have the “true colors”.

  22. Christine says:

    Hey! I use Kodak Gallery. I’ve been pretty happy with it but sometimes the auto crop feature on it is an annoyance. I’m wondering if Shutterfly does that, too?

  23. Becky says:

    After I download pics from my camera, I immediately upload them to my Flickr PRO account. I am so glad that I do this because recently my computer crashed and I would have lost all the pics I had taken in the last year. Yes, I SHOULD back them up, but I don’t – so this saved me!!

  24. Dee says:

    Thanks for the great tip! My mom got me a new digital camera for Christmas last year, so I will definitely use your advice.

  25. jenn says:

    WOW – i love this tip – i am pretty good at uploading my pictures to my computer and sorting them properly but ever since i switched to digital over 2 years ago – i have not printed!!!! thanks for the tip on shutterfly – i just spent the last hour checking it out and ordering some prints – can’t wait to see how they turn out.

  26. Babystepper says:

    I use Walgreens, because you can upload your pictures online and then pick them up at your local Walgreens that same day if you want. Saves the cost of shipping. Especially nice because my husband works in the town where Walgreens is, so I just make him go by after work and pick them up. =)

  27. courtney says:

    if you have a costco near you they have cheaper developing than shutterfly and they deliver via postal mail to your house for free.

  28. mom2fur says:

    Great Ideas. In my case, I have the pictures sent to an “Art & Photography” folder I made. I used to name them, then add a P to the end of the name when I printed them. Now, I leave them ‘numerical’ until I’m ready to print or scrap them. It’s easy because I have a new computer and am just starting a new file–so there aren’t that many names yet. If a photo has a name, I’ve used it in a scrapbooking layout. I also have a feature that lets me print ‘thumbnails,’ so I can quickly scan over it and see if there are any pictures I’ve forgotten and want to use.
    Hard to believe we (at least some of us) lived in a world where you had to wait a week or more for photos!

  29. Kathleen Grone says:

    Thanks bunches. I used flickr to order from once (I think it is through target) and half the heads were cut off! I was so bummed! Thanks for the tips!

  30. MamaToo says:

    great ideas! I noticed a couple people mentioned Picasa – love them! It’s especially good because
    (1) free is a good price
    (2) it finds all of your photos and organizes them by date, etc.
    (3) it has photo editting software for basic fixes (no, it cannot seem to take 15 pounds off my thighs, but redeye is gone!)
    (4) it has cool features like “Email This,” and at the click of a button my photo is compressed (so as to not cause major headaches!) and sent off to the recipient of my choosing.

  31. Emily says:

    I use Shutterfly, too. I love their Studio software – it makes it so easy for me to upload just the photos I want!
    I like your system. I’ve used a similar one, but without the NYD folder. I think I’ll tweak my system and incorporate that idea.

  32. Jamie says:

    Last Christmas I was determined to print my favorites from the previous year and a half (that is how far behind I was!) and I filled a couple of pretty albums from TJ Maxx.
    I have used Shutterfly, Snapfish, and for this big bulk print order I signed up at Winkflash as they were having an incredible deal!

  33. jen says:

    LOVE the Jesus Bible Storybook! (Comments on that post are closed, so you get a misplaced comment here.) Seriously, both Hubs and I love reading it to our kids, and they love it too. Thanks for recommending it!
    And Shutterfly – me too! Love it!

  34. Polly says:

    I have a WFMW idea. But I don’t have a blog to link to. So here it goes…
    1 jar spaghetti sauce (plain)
    1 jar salsa (I used the cheapo WM Medium)
    2 cans red beans, drained & rinsed
    1 pound ground turkey-cooked and drained
    1-2 rounded tablespoons chili powder, to taste
    1 tablespoon cumin
    Optional: 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 tablespoon masa harina to thicken. These items make for a more authentic Mexican flavor.
    Mix all together and simmer about 45 minutes.
    I came up with this recipe this morning when I couldn’t bear the idea of chopping an onion, bell pepper and celery for chili. I thought, well, all that stuff is in salsa and spaghetti sauce. So, there you have it! Very yummy and easy. Does’t get better than that. Happy Wednesday everyone.

  35. Leslie says:

    Oh I absolutely love Photoworks. Shutterfly is probably my second fave. Last year I shot a wedding for a couple in my church who had no money so I went to all the sites I could to get free prints. The couple ended up with a very full photo album. Anyway, a side by side comparison made me swicth to photoworks for good.
    Just my 2 cents!

  36. Carla says:

    please please please tell me that you back all these precious photos up on a disk somewhere (preferably more than one disk).
    Trust me, hard drive crashes are NOT a good thing for Mommy’s pictures. Many a tear was shed.
    For my developing, I use a pro lab. It’s more expensive though.

  37. An Iowa Mom says:

    Good idea … I never print my photos because I always feel so unorganized about it. I will be using your idea.
    Also, I’ve found that I have SOOOO many photos on my computer that it started running slower … so each month, I burn them from the computer onto a CD and label it and delete the photos from my computer. Then, at the end of the year, I pull out all 12 CD’s and make a DVD of the year with that years top hits as background music. THEN, I copy those off and send to the grandparents as a Christmas gift. LOL!
    It’s a process …
    Now … I’ll be putting PRINTING into it.

  38. Tamara Cosby says:

    I use SNAPFISH. It works the greatest as far as I am concerned because it downloads more than one picture at a time and you can choose to pick your pictures up at Walgreens or have them shipped to you. They also have FABULOUS customer service and are ever so slightly LESS expensive than shutterfly. They have GREAT enlargements…I have two 20 X 30’s they printed, AMAZING!!!!
    Love WFMW!!!!
    I also love the Jesus Storybook Bible, it is amazing, I even got another friend of mine hooked!!!

  39. Eva says:

    Hmm…I guess I can’t edit my comment on here. And now no one will probably read this. *sigh*
    I just wanted to say that it was not Shutterfly I stopped using. It was Snapfish with the bad print cropping. Shutterfly is great. *sigh again*

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