My folder structure

Folder Structure

I finally did it! Some weeks ago, I re-organised my entire photo collection. Quite a task considering the 10533 pictures. It all started when I got my new external hard-drives. I didn’t have a backup of my pictures except from the DVDs I made every three months and was rather unsatisfied with this method: complicated, unsafe, expensive in the long run. To inform myself, I asked around, read reviews and “Top n” lists and so on… I finally decided to get me two of the “LaCie 1TB Design by Neil Poulton” and a Logitech USB hub, since all slots of my Macbook were already taken.

I categorised the pictures in three groups:

  • taken with my DSLR
  • shot with some other camera (such as mobile phone cam)
  • taken by someone else (e.g. friends & family / events where I spotted my face in the crowd etc)

My old system wasn’t effective at all and contained the two last groups mixed together in one folder tree.  The pictures taken with my DSLR were in a different tree which made it rather complicated to find all pictures from one specific date. Let’s imagine that I went for a walk on May 23, 2009 and took some pictures with my mobile phone. In the evening I shot some photos at the local concert and found myself on a Face The Show picture of that evening (if they would come to Regensburg). My afternoon pics were mixed with the Face The Show pics and I had to switch folders to view all pictures of that day:

“Photos/other/2009/05 may 2009/2009-05-23/2009-05-23 (05).jpg” and “photos/canon eos 400d/2009/05 may 2009/2009-05-23/2009-05-23_09.cr2”

Although I had to re-organise the entire folder structure by date with sub-folders for the three groups, sort unsorted photos and re-name all of my pictures consistently, it was worth the effort.

“Photos/year/year-month/year-month-day/year-month-day GROUP/year-month-day_LETTER_SEQUENCE.suffix”

  • GROUP (corresponding to the list above): DSLR, Andere (=”others”), Sonstige (=”misc”)
  • LETTER (corresponding to the list above): d, a, s
  • SEQUENCE: 001 – 999 (I’ve never reached 999 on one day)

The advantages are obvious: I can choose a date and view all pictures of the subfolders and can specify the pictures which I want to edit/view/share by selecting the respective subfolder if needed. Furthermore, it is consistent in the names of the pictures and the file names are unique (hence, accidental overwriting is impossible).

My old 400gb external HD is now used for the less important files which I don’t need on my internal Mac HD… The first LaCie is exclusively used for the photos. The second one, however, is partitioned in “Macintosh HD Backup” (contains a bootable clone of my internal HD), “Photos Backup” (contains a clone of the “Photos” external LaCie HD) and finally “Archives” for important and/or ancient files (such as my first Corel Draw graphics from the 90s, home-studio tracks from my old band etc).

I use Carbon Copy Cloner (donationware) to copy/clone the different hard-drives. The light-weight app is easy to use, efficient and very recommendable. Maybe the post helps others to figure out a system for their folder and photo organisation.