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Managing Your Photo Library

Learning Goals

  • Learn a strategy for building a helpful photo library structure
  • Move your previously filtered photos into your library
  • Backup your pictures to preserve or transfer your library
  • Use Picasa to manage your photo library
  • Learn to easily find pictures in your library

Structuring the Photo Library

In our last tutorial we downloaded and prepared our photos to be inserted into our Photo Library.  The Photo Library is the place on your computer where you will store all your high quality photographs.

Your Library folder should be organized by date and event. Using date based organization is the most helpful for managing backups and effective searching. Here is a suggested structure:
  • Library
    • 2009
      • 01F - Birthday Joanne 25
      • 02S - Badminton Tournament
      • etc..
    • 2008
      • 12R - Christmas Family Get Together - Smiths
      • .....

Rather than trying to label each photograph, use meaningful names for the folders you put them in.   This saves you a lot of time since most photo management programs will quickly search the folder descriptions.  In addition, Picasa now includes facial recognition as an additional way to find and organize your photos.

I like to use event-based folder names that start with a two digit representation of the month followed by a code and then a meaningful description.  Here are some of codes I use: 
  • F - Events and pictures of our immediate family
  • R -  Events involving our relatives and extended family
  • S -  School related events and activities
  • C -  Church related events
  • W -  Work related events and pictures
  • M -  Miscellaneous 
If you have a number of photos that are not event specific, for example, random family shots taken throughout the year, then simply create a general family folder to store these in.   I usually have a couple of family folders that I use depending on when in the year the pictures are taken.  In my Library under my 2009 folder, I might have:
  • 2009
    • 03F - Family Pictures
    • 06F - Family Pictures
    • 09F - Family Pictures
I simply move these general shots into the one that is closest to the date of the photo.

Moving Processed Photos into Your Library

Use these steps to move your filtered photos from your Download directory into your Library:

A. If these photos are part of an event already in your Library, add them to the appropriate Library folder. Here are the instructions from the Picasa on-line help file:

The easiest way to move or rearrange photos in Picasa is to drag and drop them at their desired location. Before you get started, it's important to understand the implications of the move: Moving a photo to a different folder in Picasa also moves the photo on your hard drive. Moving a photo to an album, on the other hand, has no impact on the photo's actual file location on your hard drive.

Follow these steps:

  1. Select the photos you'd like to move. You can only drag and drop photos from one folder or album at a time.
  2. Click on a selected photo and hold the mouse key down while you drag your photos to their new location. Once your cursor is at the desired location, release the mouse key to drop them in the new folder or album.

If you have a large collection of photos, it may be easier to drag them to the folder list on the left-hand side of your library and drop them once the desired folder or album is highlighted.

B. If these photos are all part of a new event, rename the folder according to the naming guidelines above.

You can also add information about:
  • Date
  • Place taken
  • Detailed description
  • Background music for slideshow and movie presentation modes
To edit a folder's properties, please use the following steps:
  1. Select the folder you'd like to edit.
  2. Click the Folder menu in Picasa.
  3. Select Edit Description.
  4. Make your edits. Please note the following:
    • Date: You can manually choose a date that should be associated with the folder. Alternatively, Picasa can analyze the timestamp of your photos in the folder or album and determine a date for you if you select the 'Automatic Date' checkbox.
  5. Click the OK button.
... and then move the folder to your Library:
    1. Right-click the folder you'd like to move in the Folder List.
    2. Select Move folder.
    3. Choose your desired destination (e.g. 2009).
    4. Click OK.
The folder will now appear under the 2009 section in your Library.

C. If these photos are part of a more than one event, then split the folder into several folders first.

Follow these steps:

  1. Right-click (Windows) the first photo of the group that should be separated to a new folder.
  2. Select Split Folder Here. Notice that all the subsequent pictures in the folder are also selected.
  3. Enter the folder properties.
  4. Click the OK button.
Follow the instructions above to move these folders to your Photo Library.

Preserve Your Library

Once you've processed and moved new folders into your Library, it's a good idea to backup the Library.  You can backup on CD or DVD, but I would recommend a few options:
  • Backup to a quality USB Drive.  These are becoming more and more reasonably priced and are convenient and portable. 
  • Backup to another computer.  If you have multiple computers at home, you can use the extra space on one of the machines to store a copy of your Library
  • Take a copy off-site from time to time, or use an on-line backup service like PicasaWeb or Mozy.com
It's important to backup from Picasa in order to preserve all your settings and to remember what's already been backed up:

Organizing Your Library

Picasa provides several helpful ways to organize and manage your Library. 

  • Folders, Albums, and People.   Picasa automatically detects and organizes pictures according to where they are on your computer.  This is represented by the Folders section in your Library view.  You can also create your own groups of photos in Albums.   These are only visible in Picasa, and deleting a photo from an album, just removes it from the collection, not from the computer or folder.  Lastly, Picasa 3.5 has added People tagging, so you can organize people based on the face detection and people tagging activity within Picasa.  See Adding Name Tags for more instructions on tagging people.
  • Tagging. You can also tag your photos to make it easier to search for them.  Each tag acts like a keyword that you can quickly associate with a photo or a whole group of pictures. Check out this topic in Picasa Help for more details.
  • Captions.  You can easily add a caption to any photo.  Text in captions is available for searching when you are looking for a photo.  See the on-line topic for more details.
  • Favourites. Another great way to highlight your favourite photos is to mark them with a star.  This provides another way of quickly finding some of your best photos.  Check on-line for detailed instructions.

Finding Pictures in Your Library

One of the great things about Picasa is the speed and accuracy of finding photos once you've stored them.  

Picasa can search based any text associated with a photo. This includes the following:

  • Filenames
  • Captions
  • Tags
  • Folder or album names
  • Camera maker
  • Date (i.e. 'November' or '2008')

Enter a term in the search box in the upper-right corner of your Library. As you type your search term, Picasa refines the results. To narrow your search, include multiple words in your search criteria.  Learn more about searching in Picasa on-line.

More About Picasa

As mentioned in our previous tutorial, we've selected Picasa for a number of reasons to be our main Photo Management program. The following video reviews some of the features of Picasa 3.0:

This video demonstrates the new features in Picasa 3.5