One Step at a Time

This year we’re running with the mantra One Step at a Time. We’re tackling tons of little tasks and making small changes that will hopefully add up to help us reach our big goals for the year. Taking it one step at a time keeps us from getting overwhelmed, and we’ve been getting a ton done as a result. We’re working on a bunch of steps simultaneously all the time, but we wait until we’re done until we share it with you.

Step 11

This step is actually a BIG step: we reorganized all of our digital photos. This is a really big deal: we had over 30,000 photos floating around. Yikes! Now they’re all neatly organized by year in nine separate iPhoto libraries. Here’s how we did it.

iPhoto Library

We knew that we wanted all of the photos organized in iPhoto. We love the program: it’s so easy to visually browse through many different events when we’re looking for a certain photo. When you drag the scroll bar, the program allows you to move through events quickly and the month and year pop up (so we can easily get from December 2012 to January 2011 without having to scroll all of the way through). It reminds us of iPods in that respect. It’s also nice that we can make quick edits from the program (though we mostly edit in Photoshop).

It would be nice to have all of our photos in one place, but you can’t throw 30,000 photos into one program. There isn’t room on our primary computer hard drive, for one. And iPhoto was taking FOREVER to load when our current library held about 15,000 photos (understandably). So, the plan was to have multiple iPhoto libraries with the 2012 photos on our main computer and the rest on 8 other libraries by year, stored on our external hard drive.

We were a little worried, because we’ve had problems splitting iPhoto libraries in the past. Or maybe there was a problem when we updated the software. I don’t really remember the cause, honestly, but one of our libraries in the past became corrupted and it was a giant pain to extract the photos. So we were a little timid going in.

iPhoto Library Manager

Our solution was the wonderful iPhoto Library Manager program (free trial, $19.95 for permanent software). iPhoto Library Manager allowed us to easily split our existing library into multiples and made it super easy to divide and conquer our old libraries (which was a big pain, because for awhile the photos were spread out over our three macs). I also love the short-cut links to the libraries. Even though some of the libraries are stored on the computer and some are stored on the external hard drive now, we can open them all from one place.

We do want to note that iPhoto Library Manger claims to be able to extract photos from a corrupted iPhoto library, but didn’t work for our corrupted library.

(*If you have a corrupted iPhoto library, you can still see the photos in Finder. You’ll loose the metadata, but you can extract the photos through Finder.)

Old Photo Organization

What took us so long if the program was so easy to use? Well, firstly it took us a few tries to figure out that we can’t move thousands of photos at once. We crashed our poor 5-year-old iMac a few times. Once we started moving things in manageable chunks (less than 2,000 photos at a time), things went much more smoothly.

What took a ridiculous amount of time, however, was going through folders and folders of semi-organized photos on our hard drive. These are all photos from our pre-iPhoto days. I hated those folders. Even when using Adobe Bridge to browse through them more quickly, it would take me so long to find old photos that I’ve just completely avoided scrapbooking those years. To get them into iPhoto libraries using our new program, we thought we had to import each folder individually. Now I think we could have done it much faster, but it’s too late now! Ooops.

Daily photo editing will be faster and more efficient for both of us, and I’ll be able to find old photos for memory keeping quickly! Even though it was a big step (it took all of our free time for two days), it’s a small step towards our goals of organization and efficiency. But this small step is going to make a big difference: we’ll make back our time spent in time saved in just a few weeks!

How do you organize your photos?

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