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Organize your messy photo collection in 4 simple steps

Almost everyone today has a high-powered camera in their pocket, so it’s no wonder photography in the U.S. is booming. According to InfoTrends, more than 1.44 trillion digital photos are expected to be taken in 2020 alone.

Today’s photo editing software is easier to use than ever, too, and there are free options just as good at expensive Photoshop. Tap or click here for a list of free alternatives to Photoshop that have all the features you want.

For most of us, taking and editing all those photos isn’t the issue. It’s sorting through the endless folders and galleries spread across our devices.

If you have a mess on your hands, you’ve come to the right place. Organizing your photos takes patience and time, but you’re only a few simple steps away from setting things up the right way. Here’s what you need to do to make your photo library easier to navigate.

1. Where are your pics?

You probably aren’t taking photos with your phone exclusively. The first step is to gather all your devices — your phone, tablet, camera, laptop, old thumb drives and hard drives, and any old phones that still power on.

Then move on to digital storage. Raid your email and social media accounts for photos from friends and family you don’t want to lose track of. Look through cloud storage services you subscribe to like Google Drive, iCloud or Dropbox to make sure you’re not missing anything there, either.

UP YOUR SKILLS: Tap or click here for 5 common mistakes that ruin your photos.

Once you’ve found all the files you want to keep, move on to physical pictures. Scour your home for any place you might have old photos stashed away, such as photo albums, storage boxes, frames and scrapbooks. Don’t forget about those undeveloped rolls of film that have been hiding in the back of your drawer for years.

Now that you’ve collected your physical media together, it’s time to convert it into a digital format you can work with. Tap or click here for a step-by-step guide to preserving your old photos and videotapes.

All of this is a bit of work, but it’s also a fun walk down memory lane. We can guarantee you’ll find photos you totally forgot about.

2. Storage matters

© Carmenmurillo | Dreamstime

Storage space on your phone is valuable. You don’t want to run out of real estate storing thousands of photos. Your best bet is to store them digitally using an online photo service.

Not all of them offer all the space you’ll need without charging hefty fees.

If you’re a serious photographer, check out Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Its Lightroom plan with 1TB of cloud storage gives you everything you need to edit, organize, store and share photos across desktop, mobile and the web.

Lightroom Classic allows you to organize photos based on file type (your original RAW images, JPEGs and PSDs), rating, metadata, camera or lens used and so much more for $9.99 per month.

If you prefer a free option, Google Photos is the way to go. This handy tool offers free, unlimited storage for photos up to 16 megapixels and videos up to 1080p resolution.

Courtesy of Google Photos

Google Photos lets you easily organize your collection into various subjects such as People, Places and Things. This makes finding photos easier and faster. It’s very simple to use, too. You can add images to your Google Photos account from your computer, tablet or smartphone and set up automatic syncing.

There’s a Google Photos app available for both Apple and Android gadgets that makes managing and sharing your collections easy, too. Tap or click here for 5 Google Photos tricks only the pros know.

3. Stop hoarding

Now that you have all your photos stored in one place, it’s time to clean things up. A few duplicate photos here and there isn’t a big deal, but having hundreds or even thousands of duplicates is a waste of time and storage space.

Hunting down duplicates manually is miserable. There are apps for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac that can do the hard work for you.

Apple and Android gadgets

Remo Duplicate Photos Remover is an app that scans your phone for duplicates and deletes them for you. You can also use it to quickly remove duplicates created by messaging and social media apps.

For Mac users

Photos Duplicate Cleaner easily locates and removes duplicate photos from your Mac. It’s available as a free download from the Mac App Store.

PDC creates groups of duplicate photos, so it’s easy to find the number of occurrences of similar images. All copies of a photo are deleted except the original. This can save you plenty of disk space on your Mac.

Once you’ve downloaded the program, follow the instructions found on the download page to use it.

Removing duplicates on Windows machines

For Windows users, Duplicate Cleaner helps you locate and delete similar photos, and it works for other file types, too. Search for and delete multiple copies of documents, pictures and music quickly and easily.

It displays potential duplicates side by side for easy comparison. You’ll find photos that have been edited or saved in a different format so you can delete the duplicates you don’t need.

Follow the instructions on the site to use the program once it’s installed.

4. Sort through the mess and make sense of it all

Now that your collection is free of duplicates and all in one place, your next step is to actually sort through the mess so you can easily find the photos you want. If you have hundreds or thousands of photos, how can you speed that process up?

A smart photo organization app is your secret weapon. We recommend digiKam, a free, open-source program with powerful tagging tools you can then use to sort through your photos quickly.

This free app lets you work directly with your photos’ metadata, or all the info stored within the photo file like when it was taken, the camera details and even location.

Not only can you edit your library’s metadata, but you can also edit batches of photos in one go. You can also search through metadata to find specific items you’re looking for.

Source: digiKam

You can add tags and geographic coordinates to your photos that make them simple to search for. You can also scan for specific faces in photos and label them, which will help you group photos by the people they feature.

Best of all, digiKam also contains exporting features that let you upload your files directly to your favorite cloud storage services. This lets you organize and back-up your photos all in one place.

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