Once upon a time we took a roll of film, had it developed and put the best photos in a photo album. Today, we can take thousands of photos on a digital camera, smartphone or tablet. It’s a wonderful convenience, but the sheer volume of photos can be overwhelming.
How do you sort them all? Where should you store them? And how can you be sure your favourite photos won’t get lost?
Before you can start organising your digital photographs, you’ll need to transfer them to your computer.
Transferring photos can usually be done either by connecting your camera or device directly to your PC or by using a Bluetooth connection.
To transfer directly, you’ll need a connection cord. One end of the cable will plug into your camera or device and the other will connect to a USB port on your computer. In most cases, as soon as you connect the two and turn on both devices, your computer will recognise the new hardware device and give you access to it.
To use Bluetooth, both your camera and computer will need to be Bluetooth enabled. Bluetooth works like a wireless connection, but is limited to connected devices within a short range. After you turn on Bluetooth on both your computer and your device, your computer will detect your device and you can transfer photos wirelessly.
Filing digital photos
The secret to accessing all those digital photos you take is in the way you file them. It can be easy if you have a system and stick to it. It might be a little harder if you already have hundreds of photos, but take the time now to sort them and you won’t regret it later:
- Set the current time and date on your camera if you haven’t done so already.
- Transfer photos from your camera or phone to a “Pictures” or “Photos” folder on your computer.
- Create subfolders to organise your photos. A good way to organise them is by year and by subject. You can also create subfolders within subfolders (2015/Family/Nick’s birthday, for instance) if you need to.
Separating folders by year and adding subfolders is like having a library of photo albums arranged alphabetically and numerically. But what will you do if your computer crashes and you lose them all? This is why backing up is so important.
Backing up digital photos
The most secure way to back up your photos is to store them on another hardware device and online. Hardware devices include external hard drives and USB ‘sticks’, and backing up this way is easy with our guide to backing up data.
To store your photos online, services like Flickr and Dropbox will give you limited storage space. If you take a lot of digital photos, consider paying the modest yearly fees for greatly increased or even unlimited storage.
These services are not going away any time soon and will probably outlast both your computer and camera, so are well worth investing in.
Printing digital photos
You probably won’t want to print all your digital photos, but it’s always nice to have the option. If you have a colour printer, you can print them yourself on plain or photograph paper.
For the best quality prints, choose a printer designed specifically for digital photographs.
If the DIY option isn’t for you, you can always visit your local printing store with the selected photos on a hard drive or USB, or use an online service like Photobox which will print and deliver them to your door. Photobox can create a photo album or even print your favourite photograph on a mug or other gift item.
Once you get into the habit of storing, filing and backing up your digital photos, it’s easier than ever to keep track of all your precious memories.
Related: Where to get your photos printed