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Get App-y: Organize your photos before they take over your computer

We take thousands of photos these days with smartphones and digital cameras. How can we keep track of them all?
by Lillie-Beth Brinkman Modified: September 16, 2013 at 6:00 pm •  Published: September 16, 2013
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With the advent of digital photography and smartphones that come with high-quality cameras, it's now too easy to take pictures and videos of every sunset, food presentation, child milestone and memorable moment that we encounter each day.

Since we don't have to be as selective about the photos we take as we did in the film developing days, we take so many that it has gotten much tougher to manage thousands of photos and find them again on our computers when we need them. All my photos before 2004, pre-digital photography, are stored in acid-free boxes or albums and organized by year or event.

Now I need a similar shoebox-like filing system for the digital files on my computer, especially the ones I don't print.

Recently, I realized that my photos had taken up so much storage on my computer that I only had 3.5 GB left on the 640 GB hard drive that I share with my children. The machine would barely run.

In a moment of desperation, I turned to two applications for my Mac desktop in order to fix the clogged storage situation quickly. Then I asked two professional photographers for some help in getting a better handle on organizing and managing photos and videos backing them up.

“This is one battle I'm constantly trying to wage. I have the same problem,” said Oklahoma City professional photographer ErickGfeller. It's gotten even tougher as cameras have improved and photo file sizes have increased, he said.

To get my photos ready for a new system, I first used the $9.99 desktop app Daisy Disk (www.daisydiskapp.com) to analyze how much space on my disk and what was taking up much of it: my photos, of course, followed by music. It's a great app, with a good visual presentation to show you what's taking up all your space in individual files, even hidden ones, on your entire hard drive or even on an external drive.

The next one I turned to was MacPaw's Gemini app, also $9.99 for the Mac (http://macpaw.com/gemini) to find duplicate photos. Since my backup storage plan included backing up photos in two places on my desktop, I had pretty much duplicate copies of every photo I had taken, including the bad ones. This app is extremely useful and well designed.

With Gemini, you drag files into the app to be scanned, and it finds your duplicates. You can then see copies of each duplicate file and where they are located and select the ones you want for deletion, either individually or as a batch. There is little danger of deleting the wrong one, and the graphics are neat — when you click on “remove files” after selecting them, the graphics simulate a paper shredder, shredding up your files and moving them to the trash.

I know there are equivalent apps designed for PCs, and MacPaw even makes a series of them for other devices, but I didn't want to recommend them without trying them out. Email me with any suggestions you have for other devices.

Now that I've cleared 70 GB of storage space on my computer and still am working to delete more duplicates, I asked Gfeller and another professional photographer, Alonzo Adams, of Oklahoma City, for some organizing and storage tips. Here is what they suggest:

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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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