Tips for organizing pictures

For as long as people have had cameras, they've stored photographs in shoeboxes and stuffed them in the closet. These days, shoeboxes have been replaced by computers, which provide an opportunity to organize your pictures so that they're always easy to find and ready to use.

Say goodbye to obscure file names

For all of its virtues, your digital camera isn't smart enough to give your pictures file names that are likely to be meaningful to you. That means your pictures arrive on your computer with names like DSC00234.JPG and P0000234.JPG. It's time-consuming and tedious to rename each picture on your computer. If you want to eliminate all of those meaningless file names, there's a better solution.

Name multiple pictures at once

Using the same word or phrase, you can rename an entire group of pictures at once. Here's how:

  1. Open Windows Photo Gallery by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking All Programs, and then clicking Windows Photo Gallery.

  2. Hold down the CTRL key, and then click the pictures that you want to rename.

  3. Right-click the pictures, and then click Rename.

  4. In the Info pane, type the new name for that group of pictures in the name box.

    Each picture will be given the new name with a different sequential number, like this:

    Summer vacation 2005 (1), Summer vacation 2005 (2), Summer vacation 2005 (3), and so on.

Tag your pictures instead

Giving your pictures meaningful file names is the traditional way to organize them, but we don't usually think of pictures by name—we think of them by who is in the picture, where it was taken, or what we were doing at the time. Now you can attach tags to pictures to keep track of that kind of information. Tags are pieces of information that describe your pictures. You can create tags and add them to your pictures at any time, but we recommend adding them as soon as you have imported your pictures from your camera to your computer. Not only will you be more likely to tag your pictures if you do it right away, but the information about the pictures is still fresh in your mind, so you can tag them more accurately.

Add a tag when you import

You can add your first tag to your pictures when you copy them to your computer by using the Importing Pictures and Videos dialog box. For example, if you are importing your summer vacation pictures, you can add a "Vacation 2006" tag. Then, when the pictures appear in Photo Gallery, each picture will contain that tag. You can always add more tags later.

Picture of the Importing Pictures and Videos dialog box
You can tag pictures using the Importing Pictures and Videos dialog box

Add more tags at any time

You can add tags to your pictures any time you have a few minutes and you're in the mood to organize your pictures.

  1. Open Windows Photo Gallery by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking All Programs, and then clicking Windows Photo Gallery.

  2. Click the picture that you want to add a tag to.

  3. In the Info pane, click Add Tags.

  4. Type the new tag, and then press ENTER.

Reuse tags by dragging

You don't have to keep typing the same tags over and over whenever you get new pictures. To apply an existing tag to a picture, click the picture, and then drag it to the tag in the Navigation pane.

Not only does this save you a lot of extra typing, but seeing all of your tags in the Navigation pane makes it easy to remember the names of your tags so you avoid adding slightly different tags to some of your pictures. If you accidentally create three slightly different tags for the same kind of picture ("flower," "flowers," and "plants," for example) it is more difficult to see all of your related pictures with a single search.

Find pictures using tags

Once you have added tags to your pictures, you can use the Search box to find them. If you want to find a picture you took at a birthday two years ago, for example, and you know that you added tags called "Birthday" and "Party" to those pictures, type Birthday in the Search box. All of the pictures that have the word "Birthday" in the file name or in a tag will then be displayed. Or, click the Birthday tag in the Navigation pane to see only those files that have the Birthday tag applied to them.

Here's another tip: If you click the Birthday tag and there are still too many pictures to sort through, type Party in the Search box. Now you'll only see the birthday pictures that also have the Party tag applied to them, which will reduce the number of pictures displayed.


  • Tags are not the only way to attach information to your pictures. You can also add captions using the Add Caption box at the bottom of the Info pane. When you search for pictures using the Search box, you can find pictures using caption text in exactly the same way that you can find pictures using file names and tags.