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Organizing your Pictures - Best Practices
November 20, 2014
2:43 pm
Forum Posts: 3260
Member Since:
July 2, 2010
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I just had a great conversation with a professional photo organizer, Cheryl Frank of My Memory File. She had several questions about how Picasa (on your computer) and Google+ Photos (in the cloud) can work together to design the best system for organizing and backing up your precious photos. I think Picasa and Google+ Photos do offer the best tools to do this for family memory photos – but what is the Best way?

Cheryl had a few specific questions and I hope this thread grows from there.

Q: Is there a way to use Google+ Photos to share your photos without using the Google+ social network?

A: Yes. If you use Picasa (on your computer) select a group of photos, click the “Share on Google+” button and create an album but DON’T share it here. If you share here – it will create a ‘Post’ in your Social ‘Stream.’ If you don’t share it, it will be a private album in your Google+ Photos account. Then you can log on to your Google+ Photos account and change the sharing options of that album to be “Share via Link.” Send that link to whoever you want and they can view and download those pictures. Here’s an article I wrote about that a while ago: What Happened to Picasa Web Albums?

Q: Using the Google+ AutoBackup feature: if you have been using that for a while and, for some reason you lose the photos from your computer, how do you use that AutoBackup to “Restore”

A: It really doesn’t work that way. I wish they had called it “AutoUpload” rather than “AutoBackup.” It only creates one giant shoebox full of all your photos. There is no structure in the AutoBackup album other than the dates that are with each photo. The Albums on Google+ Photos however, are separate copies of photos in structured albums. You can import them to your computer using Picasa’s File->Import from Google+ Photos

Here are some videos that may help:

Q: Do captions get embedded into the picture file somehow so they stay with the picture after uploading to Google+

A: Yes! Check out this video:  341.Uploading Pictures to Google+, then using in a Blogger Blog and this older, but still valid video: pics12.Add Captions to your Photos #154

I love the discussion about best practices for using Picasa and Google+ photos for organizing all your photos! Let’s keep this conversation going! And, please watch this short video on my general thoughts: Discussion of “Where are Your Pictures?”

November 22, 2014
4:07 pm
Michael Dorsey

I watched your video about “Where R Your Photos”. Call me lazy, but as much as you seem to like that sort of challenge, I think I will struggle along with the mess I now have. I have started to do a better job with photos in the last few weeks. But as for the last ten years worth, they will not be reorganized. Embarassed

November 23, 2014
2:51 pm
Cheryl DiFrank

I apologize if this somehow gets posted twice.  I thought I responded but don’t see it here…..

Thanks Chris for that thoughtful and thorough explanation!  When I organize someone’s photos, I do it all offline using separate software but then I need to help my clients set up a system they can stick with going forward to keep their photos organized.  I’d love to hear from others how they organize, back up and share their photos if they use Picasa but are not members of Google+.  The fact that my client can email photos to his friends and family without having to go through Google+ is very appealing!

I also always recommend that people keep their digital photos organized in folders/directories on an external hard drive (folders by year or month).  Then you can use Picasa (or iPhoto or whatever software you choose) to view those folders and create new albums, etc.  Then if you stop using that software for some reason or it gets discontinued (ie. iPhoto being discontinued next year!), at least you won’t lose your original organizational structure.  You can easily take that hard drive of photos by year and use another application to view it.

Michael, check out my website.  I can organize those last 10 years of photos for you pretty easily and give them back to you on a hard drive, organized by year.  I also add the date the photo was taken to the beginning of the filename so they will always automatically sort themselves by date (when you sort by filename, or in the finder), wherever you might move them.  Most photos have a couple different dates embedded in them – the date it was actually taken/created, the date it was modified and the date it was copied to the current drive.  If your software doesn’t sort by the correct one, it can be very misleading.  That’s why I put it in the filename so it never changes and you can easily see it.

Thanks for continuing this discussion Chris!



November 24, 2014
4:43 pm
Forum Posts: 3260
Member Since:
July 2, 2010
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I hear ya about organizing all your past photos – and I won’t make you ! :-)  

But … do you at least know where they all are? I do think it’s important to have them all in one place … one external hard drive most likely. Don’t worry about sorting/organizing them, but just copy them all to one place.


I too would love for others to join this conversation to tell us how they organize their pictures – just like office filing systems, every one is different. There is no right way, it depends on how you use them. I do think that the default way is by date … year and month. If you have no other compelling reason to organize another way – pictures should be stored in folders by month. Then use other tools, like tags and faces to view the pictures in other groupings. For example, to see all your wildlife photos together, tag them all with the word ‘wildlife’ then you can view them together without moving them from their monthly folders.

Here’s the video on that: Use Tags to Make Albums #238

Although I completely agree with your advice to have your pictures on an external hard drive, just realize that iPhoto would not be able to work with them like that. Unlike Picasa, iPhoto does indeed store the pictures in one library file – it can’t work with .jpgs outside of its library.

November 24, 2014
5:20 pm
Cheryl DiFrank

Not to turn this into a discussion about iPhoto, but that’s exactly why I don’t like iPhoto.  iPhoto users’ photos actually “reside” inside the iPhoto application (photo “pack”) and then you have to physically export them to use them in anything else.  And when iPhoto is discontinued, you’re forced to figure out a whole new system for your photos.  On the rare occasion that I do use iPhoto, I actually “import” just the photos I want to use for the project into iPhoto but the originals still stay on my external hard drive, safe and sound.  That’s another thing I like about Picasa – that the photos don’t actually reside inside Picasa.  You just tell Picasa which photos you want to look at and where they are (or let it find all the photos on your computer, wherever they are – another very handy feature for those who have no idea where all their photos are.) 

December 1, 2014
11:02 am
David Violette

As a full time RVer since 2010, half time from 2006-2010, I have tens of thousands of photos from all over the North American continent. We have parked our motorhome in 49 states and 11 provinces, and in more than 320 places/stops. I organize by state and location, and sometimes add a place to the folder name. An example might be: ME Houlton, CA Hearst Castle, CA Marina Dunes RV Park, or AL Red Bay Tiffin.

Then within those folders if there is more than one session or topic I use subfolders. Sometimes those subfolders will be labeled with a date (e.g.: 141130, for Nov 30, 2014) and sometimes a topic (e.g,: Tour 140623). I ALWAYS state dates in YYMMDD format so that they sort properly from most general to most specific and in proper date order.

I use this structure since I am mostly likely to look for photos of or at a certain place rather than by time. But, I always have my itinerary schedule by year since 2006 in case I need to find something by time, so I can see where we were when.

Just another idea, and one that works for me!

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