How to Organize Photos

Windows and Mac users both have access to powerful software options for editing and organizing photos. Windows Photo Gallery allows you to tag pictures so you can quickly search for them later, while Windows Explorer makes it simple to arrange photos into groups. Meanwhile, Apple Photos is an all-in-one application for importing, organizing, and sharing your favorite images. With today's intuitive (and free) software, learning how to organize photos is easier than ever.

Using Windows

Naming Photos 
Typically, a digital camera will label your photos with generic file names (like P0000421.jpg) that make them much harder to find with a simple search. It's easy to title multiple pictures at once, though, so you can label all of your recent vacation photos with the same name.

To do this, open Windows Photo Gallery and select all of the pictures you wish to rename. You can hold down CTRL + click to select individual photos. Then, right-click on one of the thumbnails and select "Rename". An info pane will appear, allowing you to name the entire group of photos. For example, if you use the name "2014 Summer Beach Trip", your photos will automatically be titled in sequence — "2014 Summer Beach Trip (1)", "2014 Summer Beach Trip (2)", and so on.

Adding Photo Tags
To provide even more context for your photos, Windows Photo Gallery also allows you to add tags. This can include the photo's subjects, where the photo was taken, or any other important details that you might need to search for later. 

It only takes a few seconds to add tags while importing photos — the Importing Pictures and Videos dialog box has an optional section called "Tag these pictures", which you can fill in with whatever details you find important. If you've already imported some photos, you can also update them with tags whenever inspiration strikes. Just select the photo(s) and click "Add Tags" from the Info pane. Then, type the tag and press Enter.    

Finding Photos with Tags
Once you've populated your photo library with tags, you can use the Search box to instantly bring up any relevant photos. For example, searching "beach" will certainly bring up your "2014 Summer Beach Trip" album, but it will also show any other photos that have the "beach" tag. More specific searches (i.e "summer beach trip") will lead to narrower results.

Arranging a Library
Finally, if you're using Windows Explorer to browse your photo collection, the "Arrange by" feature makes it easy to view photos in a variety of groupings. You'll find the "Arrange by" menu above your photos in the Library pane. Each option in this menu will arrange your photos in an entirely different way. For example, choosing "Arrange by Month" divides the files into stacks, and each stack contains all of the photos from a particular month. 

Using Mac

Importing Photos
Apple's Photos program (formerly known as iPhoto) is designed so that novices and professionals can import images with the push of a button. It's really that simple. Once you've plugged in your camera/phone/tablet and launched Photos, just click the "Import" button at the top of the screen. Before it starts, the program will give you the option to hand-select photos or import the entire batch. To do the latter, click "Import All New Items".    

Any imported images will appear in the "Last Import" album, but they'll also be viewable within the "All Photos" section. You can always look up a particular photo or album by using the search bar, which is located at the top right corner. 

Creating Albums
Once you've finished importing, you may want to organize groups of photos into more specific albums. First, select "Albums" from the main list of tabs, and then click the "All Photos" option. You'll have access to your full photo library, and clicking on any photos will add them to the album. 

When you're happy with the selections, click the "+" button in the top right corner, choose "Album" from the menu, give your new album a name, and press OK. You can also use this method to add more photos to an existing album.

Smart Albums
Finally, the Photos application also has a "Smart Albums" feature, which simplifies the importing process even more. It allows you to set specific parameters, so that any time you upload a particular image (say, anything taken on an iPhone), it will send that image straight to the "iPhone" Smart Album. Once you've set up enough of these albums, you won't need to think about how to organize photos, because the program will take care of it automatically. 

To create a Smart Album, select the "Albums" tab, click the "+" icon in the top right corner, and then choose "Smart Album" from the list. Give your Smart Album a name, and then specify the conditions for adding photos to this album. You can choose multiple conditions for the same Smart Album, such as "Camera Model is iPhone" and "Title is Beach". When you're satisfied with the settings, press OK.

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