How to Organize Digital Pictures and Videos

Do you remember a time before digital cameras existed? I’m talking about the film camera era when the number of pictures we had to organize was determined by how many rolls of film we could afford to buy and develop.

With today’s technology we are granted the ability to take and possess literally thousands of photos at little cost.

So then it is no surprise that one of the hardest digital things to do is organize our pictures and videos.

Related: How to Declutter Your Digital Life

The Importance of Organizing Your Pictures and Videos

Pictures and videos capture time and allow us to look back on times gone. They are truly some of my most prized possessions.

But it can be very easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of photos, that we don’t even know how to use them anymore.

Related: How to Declutter Your Computer

We go from enjoying them and reliving memories to simply being frustrated by SD cards and low-storage warnings on our phones.

Keeping your photos and videos organized is important because it allows you and your family to enjoy all those wonderful moments again and again.

Pictures and videos will be the links that show future generations where they came from and what life was like.

How to Organize Your Digital Pictures and Videos

Step One: Start with a declutter

When it comes to organizing your digital media, we can’t skip over the important task of decluttering the media as well.

We all have those crazy pictures our toddlers took of their faces or videos that are shaky and make you nauseated to watch.

Several SD cards and an external hard drive

When you are going through your digital media, take some time to delete items that are blurry, shaky, or simply unusable. Consider each photo and video and how you would use it or share it.

Step Two: Move Media to a Central Place

Digital cameras, multiple phones, and all the SD cards. It is not uncommon to have photos and videos in all sorts of different places but now is the time to create a central home.

You want to make sure that you are keeping all of your media stored in a central place. Now, I highly recommend backing this large file up somewhere else but more on that later.

There are many options for storage but I personally use an external hard drive.

All of our phone media and SD card media is saved on the external hard drive and organized accordingly.

Step Three: Organize Media By Date

Now that you have all of your media in one central location it is time to get it organized.

When organizing always remember what your goal is with the items. With digital pictures and videos, the goal is to be able to find what we need quickly so we can share them with other people.

There are multiple ways to organize anything but for digital media, this is the method I have found most efficient.

Create a folder for each year

Computer files named by year to organize digital pictures and videos

Within each year’s folder create a folder for each month. Label them with numerical digits as shown below so they remain in chronological order.

How to organize and name the folders for storing pictures and videos

Lastly within each month create a date for each day of media. I like to go on to add a description of the photos in the name. This helps me know what sort of media is in each folder.

View of computer files named to organize pictures and videos

Step Four: Have a Secure Back-up

Digital media can quickly become lost forever if a computer crashes or you drop your phone in the toilet. Because of this, it is important to make sure you have a backup for all your photos and videos.

Thankfully there are multiple options for backing up your media.

1. An External Hard Drive

An external hard drive is a great way to back up your pictures and videos separate from your computer. This will ensure that should something happen to your computer, your photos will be safe.

2. SD Cards

If you take lots of pictures using a digital camera (ie: not your phone), you are likely familiar with SD cards.

With SD cards you have two options. You can either 1. Move all photos from the SD card to your computer or separate device and then clear the SD card or 2. You can move a copy of your media to your computer and KEEP a copy on the SD cards.

If you opt to keep a copy on your SD cards (which I prefer), it is important to make sure your SD cards are organized so you can easily find the cards you are looking for.

I use this SD card organizer and label each of my SD cards so I know exactly where to find what I am looking for.

3. Google Photos or iCloud

I personally am an Android user but no matter your preference, it is crucial to link your phone to some form of automatic upload and backup. The majority of our photos and videos are captured using our phones, it is important to back them up so we do not lose them.

Google photos storing pictures

I personally prefer Google photos. Google photos uploads each of my pictures and videos each day. I can then access them from any computer, tablet, or any device. Additionally, Google photos links to most major photobook creators making the process of turning photos into

4. Other online storage systems

Another option is to purchase a subscription to an online storage system such as Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, Smugmug, or Shutterfly

Pictures from a cell phone being backed up digitally

These online storage systems usually include a monthly or annual subscription but then will hold your files for you.

This is a great, minimalist option as it is all digital and requires no extra devices.

Step Five: Enjoy your pictures and videos

Organizing digital pictures and videos is crucial to preserving them but it is also important to actually enjoy them as well.

Here are a few ways you can make sure you are enjoying all those memories you are capturing

1. Digital Picture Frames

Digital picture frames make a great gift for grandparents. It is a way to showcase multiple photos without needing multiple frames.

2. Photo books

Photo books are an incredible way to show off your pictures. You can create books to honor a person such as one for father’s or mother’s day. Or you can create a family yearbook that includes pictures throughout the whole previous years. When it comes to photo books the options are truly endless.

Here are a few options for quality photo book makers

  1. Artifact Uprising
  2. Shutterfly
  3. Mix Books
  4. Snapfish

Being able to capture so many wonderful memories is such a gift of our modern age. But it is vital to make sure you are caring for these pictures and videos so you can pass them along to future generations. Follow these tips to make sure you properly protect and organize your pictures and videos.


Advice on how to organize digital photos.


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