How you organize your files will ultimately depend on how well you organize in your mind. Some people are great at organization, and others, well not so well. As you contemplate your way of organizing, talk with family as well. They will ultimately inherit your system of photo organization down the road. Will they understand your file organization?
Over the years of working with folks on this, I have seen so much disorganization of their scanned files. Files have been seen inside of Windows System folders, in the "root directory", Program Files folder, and so on. These files essentially become "lost" when they become so scattered. Scattered files are also very hard to back up when they can not be easily located.
- Put all your images under ONE folder. Typically "operating systems" like Windows or Macintosh will have a "My Pictures" folder. Use this folder for your images. There is one caveat to this. If you are using a "cloud drive" like OneDrive, Dropbox, iCloud Drive, etc, create an image folder for your family photos.
- Create "SubFolders" to further organize the images. Again, this will depend on how you have "lived your life". Various organizational strategies to organize your subfolders are reviewed to the right.
- Learn about "Metadata". Digital files have the ability to contain "metadata" within its file structure. What this means is that you can put searchable tags, names, dates, descriptive comments, and more into the file's metadata fields. These are "invisible" except if you open the file's "Properties" values. Right click on any file and you can view associated metadata. This data will travel with the photo, such as if you share the photo with others. There are programs that can help you more easily modify this data, and are well worth looking at. In more simple terms, let's say that you want to find all the images that have been tagged as "Camping Trips" between 2006 to 2010. Using simple search parameters, your computer will search through your 1000's of photos and only show those images that met that criteria.