Things You Should Know About Sorting Pictures

Today, I want to share things you should know about sorting pictures. In today’s digital picture world, it’s easy to amass a large number of photos. For instance, on my phone, I have (as of this morning) 14,087 photos. On the computer I’m using to create this post, I have 21,991 pictures. For the record, only a small number of the same pictures exist on both my phone and my computer. With such a massive number of photos, finding a photo I want or need can be a challenge. While you may not have the same quantity of pictures, you probably have enough to make hunting for a particular one frustrating. Let’s see if I can help you.

First Things First

If you’re old enough, you may remember that we used to get only our film negatives developed. Then, we would look at them and pick out the ones we wanted to be printed. We did this because each print cost money and we didn’t want to waste our cash on an out-of-focus picture or a double exposure.

Today, however, everything is digital. It doesn’t cost a penny more if we take 10 pictures of the same subject than if we only take one. With that in mind, the very first thing you should do to help with sorting is eliminate the pictures you don’t want. Instead of having to deal with a multitude of photos that you’re not going to use anyway, delete them before moving on. Reasons to delete might include: out of focus; people or reflections in the picture that shouldn’t be there; the wrong angle; and/or glare from the sun or some lighting.

Things You Should Know About Sorting Pictures – #2 – Names Of Photos

Once you’ve gotten rid of the photos you don’t need, the next thing you should know about sorting pictures is the importance of renaming them! Our smartphones and digital cameras automatically name our photos. They often use names like “IMG_7307” or “DSCF0001.” Finding a picture you took six months ago based on these kinds of names is pretty much impossible.

With that in mind, you should give your photos new names as soon as possible. Use file names that will tell you at a glance what the photos are without having to actually open the picture itself. Some of you know, I’m a big railfan. When I rename photos of train engines, for example, I use names like: “FEC_Southbound_Engine100_after_Stuart_Bridge_001.JPG” (See the photo HERE.) Just looking at the file name, I know if I open the picture, I’m going to see FEC (Florida East Coast Railway) engine #100 headed southbound right after the Stuart Bridge. While my title seems very long, it’s precise.

(Just a quick note about naming files: you’ll notice I don’t have any spaces in the title. I always use the underscore (_) in place of a space. The reason I do that is that spaces can sometimes cause errors when transferring files from one source to another. Also, not all operating systems recognize file names with spaces. Therefore, I recommend not using spaces in file names.)


Besides renaming photos, another great organizational tool is the creation of folders. While some importing software will automatically create folders for you, the folder is usually based on the date. If you see a folder labeled “January_2022” will that help you know what pictures are in there? Probably not.

Again, creating folders and putting related pictures inside them will really help when it comes time to search for a particular photo. As an example, one of my folders is labeled “Gator_Down_the_Street.” Just by looking at the folder name, I know the subject of the pictures inside. If I wanted to drill down even further, I could add the date such as: “Gator_Down_the_Street_July_2022.”

Things You Should Know About Sorting Pictures – Tags

Another great thing you can do to help find a picture is to use tags for each of your pictures. Tagging pictures manually is definitely time-consuming. Still, it can be worth it. In this post, I’m not going to show you how to tag photos manually. I’ll do that in an upcoming post.

There is software to automatically sort your pictures by tags (also called keywords). I have a video showing you the one I use. Have a look by clicking the picture below.

Things You Should Know About Sorting Pictures - screenshot of Excire Foto video

About the Author

John Grubb

I've been working on computers since 1983! I love helping people resolve their computing issues and sharing preventative measures, as well.

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