How can I organise my mass of digital photos?
February 20, 2006 12:34 PM   Subscribe

I've got a directory filled with the digital photos I and friends have taken over some eight years. It's a disorganised mess with no coherent, standardised naming format. I'd like to: -remove duplicates -sort, rename or place in folders images based on EXIF data or content I'm on Mac OS X but could possibly gain access to a Windows box if necessary. Any ideas?
posted by dance to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
iPhoto, which comes free with most editions of OS X, is actually a pretty powerful tool for sorting and keeping digital photos. It's not professional-grade, but it'll help you sort them.
posted by maxreax at 12:36 PM on February 20, 2006

While you will need a machine with windows on it -- which could be more than a little inconvenient given your situation-- Goggle's Picasa is fabulous. And it's free. I can't recommend it highly enough. It will locate every photo on your computer (you can limit where it looks if you like). I found numerous things I didn't remember that I had.

Here's the link:

posted by bim at 12:47 PM on February 20, 2006

iPhoto obfuscates the storage its own proprietarily encoded directoy structure. Does Picasa actually meet the file system and organization naming requirements of this request?
posted by shagoth at 12:51 PM on February 20, 2006

I'm faced with the same tasks, and iPhoto isn't even in the mix of options. iPhoto sucks. It's completely inadequate for working with photos in any serious, meaningful way. On the other hand, iPhoto is free. It came with your Mac. You may want to play with it, and if you only have a few hundred photos, it may be the answer. But if you're talking higher orders of magnitude, iPhoto will be painful to work with.

Picasa is PC-only. It won't work on your Mac.

Do you have any version of Photoshop or Photoshop Elements? You could use the Browser or the Bridge to make much of this work less painful. There are also several low-cost apps out there that do various photo organization tasks for you. I've always been intrigued by Lightbox though I've never used it. Apple's website has a section for downloads of imaging software, free-ware, share-ware, and demo-ware. Maybe one of those would work for you?

For my own upcoming organization project, I'm going to use Adobe's Bridge.
posted by jdroth at 1:22 PM on February 20, 2006

Also -- I should point out that though renaming files seems like a good way to impose organization, it quickly becomes a mind-numbing task. My personal preference is to not mess with filenames at all, but to impose organization via metadata, adding captions and tags as needed. This is a more robust solution, anyhow, and when done from within a program like iPhoto or Bridge, much easier than monkeying with file names in the Finder or the Save As... dialog.
posted by jdroth at 1:26 PM on February 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

I use ACDSee to sort through my images.

It allows me to sort by EXIF, to batch rename, to batch-rotate my photos. There's a 30 day eval period for the software, and the product itself is $50.

I've used it since its fourth version, and cannot recommend it highly enough.
posted by seawallrunner at 1:41 PM on February 20, 2006

The application that people keep recommending to me is iView. I haven't used it yet myself but may give it a try now that I'm inspired by this question.
posted by olecranon at 1:58 PM on February 20, 2006

I have not used iPhoto extensively, but it does have one feature that could prove useful in this context. When you import photos it checks and warns you about duplicates. If you have piles of old digital photos that have been copied and moved around over time, this is useful.
posted by alms at 2:23 PM on February 20, 2006

Response by poster: I'd just like to say thanks for all the responses so far! I do have access to Adobe Photoshop, jdroth, but I've not heard of 'bridge' - guess I have some playing to do!
posted by dance at 2:43 PM on February 20, 2006

iPhoto 6 is massively better than previous versions, and it allows you to keep your own structure.
posted by bonaldi at 2:46 PM on February 20, 2006

A quick summary of google results for Adobe Bridge: official overview, introduction to the app, reviewing photos in Bridge.

Older (pre CS2) versions of Photoshop have a similar app called the File Browser. Photoshop Elements has a similar app called something else. They all essentially do the same thing. They may or may not be of use to you (but, as I say, I'm planning to use them myself when I organize my photos). Look in your Applications folder for Adobe-branded applications that you never knew were there. That's probably where Bridge resides for you...
posted by jdroth at 2:58 PM on February 20, 2006

Even better; back them up at the same time - Smugmug does all that you would need, but obviously you have to upload them first.

Use Send2Smugmug to avoid the size limitations when uploading, and you can just set it to run overnight for example.

All you'd need to do is initially arrange some basic folders online to facilitate arranging; putting them all in one online folder to then try and arrange will cause stress - so, say, arbitratily divide them into 10/20, and work from there?

I've tried all the rest, Bridge, Picasa, etc etc (PC - not a Mac user) and this is the best system for me - it has a host of ancillary benefits too - such as DVD back up ability, tagging, cropping etc etc.

If you want to share with friends, they can just access too and make changes as they wish.
posted by DrtyBlvd at 4:59 PM on February 20, 2006

iPhoto, which comes free with most editions of OS X

Actually, it comes free with Macs, not Mac OS X. If you don't have it, it costs ~$80 as part of the iLife bundle.

iPhoto obfuscates the storage its own proprietarily encoded directoy structure.

Not anymore, and the new version's a lot faster too. (Even if it did, no biggie. Folder structures are a bad way to organize photos anyway.)

You might also look at Kodak EasyShare. It comes with Kodak's digital cameras, but it's a decent organizer in its own right, and it can be downloaded for free from Kodak's Web site. I used it for quite a while until iPhoto stopped sucking so badly.
posted by kindall at 9:00 PM on February 20, 2006

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