Pictures Folder Right now I’ve got 4,234 pictures taking up 8.53 GB of space on my desktop computer.  As a matter of fact, I’ve got a boat-load of video files too since I recently bought an HD Video camera.  And 33 GB of music too.  So soon I’ll be exploring ways to back up all of this information.  But for now, let’s talk about tagging! 

The other night I wanted to organize all of the pictures on my PC.  Sure, I’m a Vista user but I still haven’t figured out all of the features included with it.  I fired up Windows Photo Gallery to see what it can do.  It’s a pretty intuitive application so before long I had all of my files organized and tagged.  Tagging is a cool concept.  If you aren’t familiar with it, when you tag a photo (or another file), you assign it a category.  But unlike the folders that we store photos in, I can put many different tags on a picture.  So if I have a photo of my wife and I, I can tag it “Andy” and also “Rebecca”.  Plus, if we are on vacation, I can tag it with “vacation” or “skiing” or whatever. 

Although Windows Photo Gallery is part of Vista, I also have Windows Live Photo Gallery, which is a free download.  It seems to have a few more features then the version included with Vista and, as far as I know, it works on Windows XP too.

Why tag photos?  Now that my collection is organized with tags, I can easily search my collection with Windows Photo Galleryphoto gallery search for specific pictures.  If I want to see all pictures of my wife and I on vacation, I just enter “Andy Rebecca vacation” in the search box and BAM, I get what I was looking for.  Or I can search for “Rebecca Hiking” or “Friends Skiing” or “Family Beach”.  Plus, I can sort the results by date, tag, folder, etc.  Pretty cool, huh?

Tagging It’s really easy to do.  I started off tagging photos in bulk.  My files are already organized in nested folders with meaningful titles such as “Skiing-> Big Sky” or “Vacation -> Italy”.  Andy I’ve (already) got tons of pictures of little Ben in folders like “Ben -> Week 1″.  So to start, I selected every picture in the the folder called “Ben” (including 6 sub folders) and tagged every picture “Ben”.  I did the same for the vacation photos.  I found folders named after various holidays with my family so I tagged all the photos “Family”.  You get the idea.  Within a few minutes I put some simple tags on most of my pictures.  Since the thumbnail viewer is pretty good and I have a wide screen monitor, it was easy for me to then open folders, select lots of pictures at one time and apply more specific tags such as “Andy”, “Rebecca”, “Grandma”, etc.  Plus, I removed the tags that didn’t seem appropriate from my earlier “bulk tagging”.  For instance, there were pictures in the folder Ben that were just of other family members.

The project only took about an hour and I was pretty well tagged up, but I am sure I’ll keep on tagging my existing files to get more accurate.  From now on, I’ll be tagging all of my pictures as I import them from my camera.  My tagging strategy is pretty simple.  I have tags for people such as:  Andy, Rebecca, Mom, Grandma, Grandmom, Grandpop.  Plus I use last names for siblings and their children.  So “Doe” would be used for my brother John Doe, his wife and all of their children.  And one for Friends too.

I also have activity/event tags such as Weddings, Vacation, Skiing, Sightseeing, Beach, Outdoors (hiking, etc).  You get the idea.

With 4,234 pictures and still growing, I’ve got a lot of great photos, and some that aren’t so great.  But I hate to delete photos, (even though I should start doing so).  But with Photo Gallery, I can also Rate pictures!  So I can put 5 stars on all of my favorites.  By doing that, I’ll be able to filter my pictures even more!

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