How to Organize Digital Pictures Without Any Software

This page explains the simplest and most efficient method to organize your digital pictures without using any software. If you learn this simple way to name and structure your picture folders, you will be able to control your growing collection of digital pictures. Really! For example's sake let's say we have a family: John and Mary and their daughter Carly.


  1. Image titled Organize Digital Pictures Without Any Software Step 1
    Have only one folder that contains all your pictures folders. All your pictures folders should be contained in only one folder. Usually it’s My Documents/My Pictures or just My Pictures. You must start here, otherwise you will be lost. In the figure for Step 1 you see the folder at the very top of the structure is called My Pictures-final. This is where all the other folders have been created.
  2. Image titled Organize Digital Pictures Without Any Software Step 2
    Add a folder for each significant category (i.e. Family, Work, Church, Friends) Going along with the example we have been using all along, John and Mary will create the following category folders: Carly (for their daughter), family (for all their family pictures), friends (for all the pictures they get from their friends), church (for all church pictures) and work (for pictures taken at John’s work events). Also, they’re adding a section called misc. to include miscellaneous pictures downloaded from the Internet or scanned from old photos.
  3. Image titled Organize Digital Pictures Without Any Software Step 3
    Add a folder for each year. There is one thing still missing. While adding categories certainly helps, the family folder will grow very large very quickly as time passes by. So, “divide and conquer” is called for once more. For this reason we recommend creating a folder for each year in the family folder. You may add folders for years in the other category folders but that may be too much for a folder like work where there might be only one or two events per year. However, if you anticipate that any category will grow very much, then you can add folders for each year.
  4. Image titled Organize Digital Pictures Without Any Software Step 4
    Create and Name your Folders. This is the most important step. The folder structure you create here is the backbone of this method. In order for us to remember an event we need two pieces of information, namely an approximate date and an approximate description. You must include both of these in your folder names. You must name your folders as follows:
    • 2 digits for the year (i.e. 06 for 2006)
    • 2 digits for the month (i.e. 08 for August)
    • 2 digits for the day - the day is not mandatory, but if you remember it put it in the folder name. If an event spans more than one day, use only the month.
    • description - you need two things: description of the event and description of the place. Use one or two words to describe the event and one or two words to describe the place.
    • don’t leave blank spaces in the folder names, instead use the hyphen (or minus) sign between your words. This way your folders will be automatically sorted properly by your operating system.
    • Examples of good folder names: 06-08-11-dads-b-day-Tony's-restaurant, 05-07-family-trip-California.
    • Examples of good descriptions: “hiking-kings-cyn”, “church-picnic-Mandalay-beach”, “visit-grandma”, “Christmas-our-house”, “4th-July-at-Petersens”
  5. Image titled Organize Digital Pictures Without Any Software Step 5
    Be consistent! Now, use the same techniques every time you transfer more pictures from your camera to your computer. Congratulations! You have just organized your pictures. However, it is very important that you remain consistent every time you transfer new pictures to your computer. If you become lazy again, you will have to go through the same process later on. However, it will take more time because you will not remember what has been organized and what hasn't.


  • This page only shows you a method. You have to be careful when moving pictures from one folder to the other. If you're not careful you can accidentally delete your pictures.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Digital Photography