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Organizing Your Digital Photo Collection


You know the feeling. You took a photo of that amazing sunset or beach vacation or that perfect dessert you baked. But now you can't find it. Did you save it on your computer, your phone, in the cloud? Was it just an Instagram story? And didn't you save a better, edited version somewhere? How many photos do you have anyway?

For a New Year's cleanup of your or your family's photo collection, we called tech guru and radio host Kim Komando for some guidance. Welcome.

KIM KOMANDO: Hi. Thank you.

FADEL: So I think I must have thousands - several thousands of photos I've collected over the past five or six years. Can I - help me with some shortcuts. How do I store? How do I find? How do I organize?

KOMANDO: It's a big mess, isn't it?

FADEL: Right.

KOMANDO: What you want to do is actually start at the beginning. And it's not a fun process. You want to grab your phone, your camera, your tablet, your memory cards, your computer. And if you have any old phones sitting in a drawer, pull them out, too, because odds are there's photos on there.

FADEL: Oh, wow.

KOMANDO: And then what you do is you pull them into your computer. You want to pull them all into one central location. And don't forget; you might even have undeveloped rolls of film. Yes, you've been hiding those for years. So you might as well get them into the digital age, too. And then you want to look at, you know, what do I really want to do with these?

If you're a professional, a serious hobbyist, that's when you want to probably use Adobe's Creative Cloud. It gives you the ability to edit, organize, store, share your photos. And the Lightroom plan gives you one terabyte of cloud storage, and it's not bad. It's, like, $9.99 a month. But if you want free - and we all love free, right?

FADEL: I definitely like free, yeah.

KOMANDO: Then Google Photos is the way to go. It gives you free unlimited storage. But there is a caveat. The photos have to be 16 megabytes of - videos up to 1080p storage.

FADEL: So if you put everything in Google, what type of privacy issues might you be dealing with?

KOMANDO: That's an excellent question because anytime you mention Google, privacy comes up - right? - because...

FADEL: Right.

KOMANDO: ...They track every single thing that we do. You know, of course, you're going to see some targeted ads. So if you put up that beautiful Maui sunset, you may start seeing some ads for - I don't know - maybe an Airbnb or some other location that is similar to Maui. But with Google, you know, if you're looking for a photo, well, Google gives you a great way to sort by people, places and things.

FADEL: Oh. Well, actually, on that note, what's the best way to organize things so you can find them? When you go through, when you're organizing them, what should we be doing?

KOMANDO: People have different ways to organize even their lives and their selves, right?

FADEL: Yeah.

KOMANDO: We also all have that junk drawer in the kitchen. And so you want to set up individual folders. Maybe it is family reunions. Maybe it's by a person. And then what you want to do is start looking for the duplicates because we all take two or three photos of the same thing. And it's...

FADEL: Or 20.

KOMANDO: Yes, you're right - maybe 30 in some cases. And so that's where you want to start using things like duplicate photo remover apps. And for Mac users, there's Photo Duplicates Cleaner (ph), which is a free download. And if you're on Windows, Duplicate Cleaner is a similar program.

FADEL: So is the age of printing out photos, saving physical pictures over? Do we still do that?

KOMANDO: You know, that's an excellent question because I have a tendency - if it's really a great photo, then I'm going to print it, or I'm going to send it to Shutterfly or someplace else. I think if you have an excellent photo collection and if you're looking to preserve memories, that's where you want to look at photo books.

If your son or daughter is just turning 18 and they're graduating high school, then you create a photo book of all their memories and you give it to them. Because, you know, while we have all these cameras in the digital age and we have all these photos that are creating all these precious memories, there's nothing like an actual book for somebody to pick up and look at.

FADEL: Tech guru Kim Komando, host of the "Kim Komando Radio Show" (ph), thank you so much.

KOMANDO: You betcha (ph). Anytime.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.