It's time to get serious about organizing your digital photos! I promise that it's easier than you ever dreamed possible. Thank you to Adobe for helping me share this post with you.
Tell me I’m not the only one who has a digital photo collection that is in total disorganized chaos. It’s something I’ve been meaning to deal with for so long, but every time I think about tackling it, I break out in a sweat.
In the past, I think this resistance to organizing my photos came simply from not knowing how best to do it. Should I organize by date? Or maybe by event name would be better? Where do I even start? Thankfully, there is software available that makes the whole process dead simple. For me, that software is Photoshop Elements 13.
I’m going to walk you through the different features that the Photoshop Elements Organizer provides, from labeling and tagging your photos to arranging them in folders. Plus, there are some pretty cool tools, like the facial recognition and location grouping.
Let’s get started…
Importing Your Photos
You can either choose to use a card reader or directly plug your camera into the computer using a USB cable. Either way, a dialog box will pop up. This box includes information, such as how many photos (and the space they’ll use) are available to be uploaded. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to choose where the photos will be saved, create subfolders and choose the way they will be named.
For example, I choose Custom Name so I can enter the name of an event or recipe. I also like to include the date, but you should pick whatever makes the most sense to you.
At the bottom of the dialog box, choose whether or not the photos should be deleted from the card or camera once imported.
Once you click on “Get Media” at the bottom of the dialog box, thumbnails of your photos will pop up in the Photo Downloader. If you don’t want to import all of the photos, make sure check marks appear only under the photos you want to download.
The photos will be displayed in your Organizer in a reverse chronological order. So, the newest photos will appear at the top. If you prefer, you can change this by choosing Oldest in the drop down menu labeled “Sort By” near the top of the Organizer.
I’m not going to go into this in detail, but be sure to set your preferences in the Backup Catalog. This will tell Photoshop Elements to do a full backup of your photos to an external hard drive (which should be done at the beginning), then later to run incremental backups of new material that is imported.
Tagging Your Photos
On the bottom right side of the Organizer, click on the “Tags/Info” icon. Enter a custom tag, such as “Appetizer” or “Skiing” into the box that reads “Add Custom Keywords”. Next, click on the photos in the Organizer to which you want to apply this tag. To choose several photos, use Command-Click on a Mac and Ctrl-click on a PC. Then, click “Add” beside your custom keyword to apply the tag to those photos.
By default, Photoshop Elements will list your custom tags/keywords under the “Other” category, but you can create your own categories to make the tags easier to find. To do this, click on the plus sign at the top of the tag box and choose “New Category”.
Creating albums is easiest to do once you’ve tagged your photos, so that you can look up the photos by tags. It’s not necessary to place all of your photos into albums, but it’s really useful if you want to create a slideshow or always have those photos at hand easily.
To create an album, click on the plus sign beside “Local Albums” on the left side of the Organizer. Choose “New Album” and type a custom name.
Now you can choose various photos from the Organizer and drag them into the album. Easy as pie!
Grouping by People
This is one of the coolest features of the Organizer. I am still in awe of it! Photoshop Elements actually uses facial recognition to identify the people in the photos, and then groups the photos in stacks according to each person. Mind blown!
To get started, click on “People” at the top of the Organizer. Click the “Add People” icon at the bottom of the screen. Pictures of various people from your photos will pop up and it’s up to you to label the person where it says, “Who is this?” You can even download your list of Facebook friends.
After labeling the various people in the dialog box, click “Save”. The photos that include those people will show up. Occasionally, Photoshop Elements labels someone incorrectly. To fix this, hover over the photo and click on the arrow at the bottom right of the photo. There will be an option to change the identification.
Grouping by Location
This is another handy tool that helps you group your photos. When you take a photo with your Smart Phone, that photo is likely embedded with location data. However, you can still use this feature with other photos, too.
Click on the “Places” tab at the top of the Organizer. Photos that include location data will be show, alongside a map that identifies where the photos (and how many) were taken.
If there are some photos that don’t include location date, simply click “Add Places” at the bottom of the screen. A row of your photos will appear at the top, with the map underneath. Choose one or several photos at once and drag them onto the relevant location on the map.
Finding Your Photos
Even though organizing photos will give you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, the real reason to organize is so you can find the photos when you need to. There are several ways to find your photos, but I will share the few that I use the most.
To find the photos using keywords/tags, click on the “Tags/Info” icon at the bottom right. Click on a tag name and…voila…only photos with those tags will show up to the left. This alone is reason enough to take the time to tag your photos!
You can also use the People and Places tabs at the top to find certain photos that you are searching for. Just click on the relevant person or location to bring up the photos relevant to your search.
Even if you haven’t tagged all of your photos, you’ll still be able to find them using the Timeline. Under the “View” tab at the top, choose “Timeline”. All of your photos will show up in the box (overwhelming at first, right?) and a slider will appear in the top right corner of the Organizer. Choose the correct year, then use the slider to find the correct month. Just click on the bar to make that month’s photos appear in the box below.
Now that your photos are organized, you’ll be able to easily share them with your friends online, print out photos and create slideshows. Organization can be a wonderful thing!
Amanda @ The Kitcheneer
I needed this! Thanks for the great tips!
Great lessons, and easy-to-follow, too. Thanks for sharing from your experience!
Getting Lightroom changed my life - my photography life at least. I started using a lot of the same tips you listed and it has made such a difference! I actually enjoy looking for photos now!
You don't even know how bad the storage on my computer is right now. Such great tips!
Rose | The Clean Dish
I was taking notes while reading through this -- I really need to organize all my files - soon! It's always the last priority for me but I'll treat it like spring cleaning this year 😉 It just has to be done!
Kim (Feed Me, Seymour)
These are such great tips! I know I have about 2 million photos that are just a disaster!
kellie | The Suburban Soapbox
My photo files are a hot mess. Great tips....I'm so lazy. Will you just do it for me? 🙂