How to: Organize Your Digital Photos

According to InfoTrends/CAP Ventures, by the end of this year more than 55 percent of all U.S. households will own at least one digital camera. With so many digital cameras in use, it is important for people to understand how to organize and store digital images in ways that make them easy to find. Additionally, today's affordable, large megapixel cameras are able to create and save very high-resolution images, which can take up a significant amount of space on a hard drive. Here are some ideas for organizing your photographs.

Use Your Photo Software

One way to organize your photos is to use the software that came with your camera or computer. These products will allow you to create albums—collections of your photos that you choose from your library of digital images. You can organize these albums any way you wish; for example, by class, project, or year. You can also create albums any way you want, such as thematically—"Class Trip to the Zoo" or "School Play." Because each album is virtual, the same photo can be put in multiple albums without creating duplicates. Many photo software products also let you make slideshows, export photos to movies, or develop a Web page out of the photos.

Create Your Own Folders

Within the Pictures or My Pictures folder, you can create your own folders in which to store your shots. Just open the Pictures folder and choose New Folder from the File menu. Name the folder any way you wish and move your photos into it (by dragging and dropping them).

Offload Your Photographs

With the file size of a high-resolution image sometimes reaching as large as 2 or 3 MB, a library of digital photos can rapidly take up a significant amount of your hard-disk space. That's when you might consider moving your photos off your computer.

CD burners are now fairly standard on computers, so simply organize your photos into folders and then burn them to CD. After verifying that the photos have been copied, you can delete them from your computer to free up space. Each CD you burn can be related to a different event (such as science fair projects) or different year (school photographs, 2004-2005).

Another option is to save your photos onto a flash drive, a small device that plugs in to your computer and appears on your desktop as a hard drive. (See "How To Use Removable Mass Storage Memory Devices" on www.techlearning.com). A 1 GB flash drive, compatible with Macs and PCs, can be purchased for as little as $50. Although more expensive than a blank CD, a flash drive does give you the opportunity to easily copy or delete your images when you wish, as you would from your hard drive.

Finally, if you really have a lot of images, you may want to consider using a digital image storage device. Newer iPods store images, as do devices such as the FlashTrax and the Transcend 20 GB digital photo album.

Jeffrey Branzburg is a contributing editor and regular columnist for Technology & Learning.

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