image of woman placing photos in photo album for the post How to organize family photos both digital and print the easy and safe way

How to Organize Family Photos Both Digital and Print the Easy and Safe Way

Please note that this article may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. You can read more at the bottom of this page or read my full disclosure on my Affiliate Disclosure Page

You may have wondered how to organize family photos, but the thought of doing so can seem like a daunting task. Today, we will show you how to organize family photos with steps and tips to make the project more manageable and, maybe even fun.

There are several options for how to organize your family photos. You can go digital or print. We will start with how to organize family photos the easy and safe way .


We’ll start with how to organize your family photos –the easy and safe way – for digital photos then move on to how to organize your printed family photos.

image of woman placing photos in photo album with text How to organize family photos both digital and print the easy and safe way

How to Organize Family Photos – The Easy and Safe Way

All of your photo albums, scrapbooks, and slides need a permanent home that’s neat and easily accessible. That’s where how to organize family photos comes into play. In addition, all those priceless ways to organize family photos should be preserved and protected for future how to organize family photos.

You may have digital photos or you may still have boxes of photos that you have printed. Let’s tackle each one and get you and your photos organized! Here’s the recommend way for organizing your photos:

How to Organize Family Photos – Digital

Step 1: Download 

At least once a month, you should download photos from your camera and/or phone to your computer. If you don’t do this regularly, you could lose precious photos due to your camera or phone breaking or being lost or stolen.

Step 2: Edit 

Look at each of the photos that you have downloaded and delete poor quality photos and duplicate photos. Look through them again and delete any photo that is repetitive or you just don’t love (don’t keep them just to keep them – they take up space and if you don’t love it enough to want it in the future – let it go!). Having less photos of high quality will also make it easier for you to locate the great ones when you are looking for them in the future.

Step 3: Create Photo Folders.  

Now that you have your photos on your computer, you need to decide how you want to organize them. There are several schools of thought on this. Chronological is one approach; by theme is another. I suggest using a combination of both. Create a folder for each year, and inside it, a folder for each month. Inside the month folders, create themed sub folders (Disney vacation, Mary’s birthday party, Johnny’s first hair cut, etc.).

Step 4: Rename and Edit Each Photo 

Next, go through each photo that you have downloaded and give it a name (rename it from the string of numbers that your camera assigned to it). For example, for a Disney trip, you might use the name of the ride you went on or the hotel you stayed at for pool photos. If you use color-correct, fix red-eye, or otherwise edit your images, do that as you rename. Your computer may have programs already installed for this purpose. Check your computer for photo software that comes pre-installed.

Step 5: File the Photos 

Place your newly named and edited photo in the appropriate file that you created earlier.

Step 6: Back Up. 

After you have uploaded, edited and organized a batch of photos, back it up. Experts recommend using at least two of the following methods: an external drive, an online storage service, or prints. (Most don’t recommend backing up on DVDs or CDs unless the discs are archival-rated, which are expensive.) If you go with an online service, look for one that focuses on storage. Those that offer printing often charge for downloading a photo and reduce its resolution. Here’s a deeper explanation of each method:

You may have wondered how to organize family photos, but the thought of doing so can seem like a daunting task. Today, we will show you how to organize family photos with steps and tips to make the project more manageable and, maybe… Click To Tweet

External Drive.  For less than $100 (I purchased mine for about $50), you can purchase an external hard drive to save your photos to. Plug it into the USB port on your computer and drag your folders of organized, edited photos onto it.

Online Services.There are dozens of photo sites, each offering a combo of services, including storage, printing, and online sharing. Here are the top rated ones for 2021.

Prints. Whether you print online, at your local Walmart or at home, having a “hard copy” of your photo is still the best “backup” you can have. Printing at home can be expensive and the quality not as high as getting them printed professionally, but if you enjoy printing your photos at home, then, by all means, go for it.

Step 7: Delete

Now that your digital photos are safely stored away on your computer and back up, it is safe to erase/delete them from your camera or phone.

If you’d like to store your photos on an outside source, Shutterfly is a great option.


How to Organize Family Photos – Printed 

Photo Storage Options

  • Purchase a set of photo albums and photo boxes. I like these from Amazon.
q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B0014R91OE&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=virtuoushome 20&language=en USir?t=virtuoushome 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=B0014R91OE
q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B003WSR9E2&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=virtuoushome 20&language=en USir?t=virtuoushome 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=B003WSR9E2
  • Go through photos when you first receive them from the printer (or you’ve printed at home).
  • While you sort, record an identifying description, such as the date or who’s in the photo, on the back of each photo.
  • Don’t keep bad exposures, blurry shots, or bloopers you won’t look at again. Throw away any photos you’d rather not remember.
  • Nab your favorites to put in an album or frame right away; pick out images to give to friends.
  • Make a list of any reprints or enlargements you need and take it to the photo store next time you’re out and about.
image of Shelves with storage boxes, black and white folders, and green plant. for the post How to organize your family photos both digital and print the easy and safe way

Storage for Printed Photos

  • When using a photo box, create a filing system similar to that you have used for digital photos (by month/year and/or event).
  • Clearly label each envelope or clear pocket with dates and any other identifying description — Road trip to Yellowstone or Christmas 2012, for instance.
  • Label tabbed dividers to further organize into subcategories, perhaps by year or family member.
  • The key is to create categories that will fit all of your photos and that you’ll remember when the time comes to search out that certain shot.
  • Albums or binders with acid-free plastic sleeves are great systems for organizing your photos. Identify shots by leaving a blank pocket in front of each new set of photos.
  • Slip a little labeling card in the pocket — something to remind you and other viewers that these are moments from your second honeymoon in Hawaii or your niece’s graduation party.

Protect Photos

  • To protect your precious photos, keep these points in mind:
  • Temperature, humidity, and light affect photos. Stash stored photos and photo albums away from sunlight in a cool, dry area.
  • Hang framed photos on a wall that won’t get direct sunlight, which fades photos quickly. Or use blinds and draperies to control the light.
  • Avoid storing photos in basements or attics, where temperatures and humidity fluctuate.
  • Oils on your fingers degrade photos and negatives, so handle them by the edges only. For additional protection, wear clean white cotton gloves.
  • Paper clips, rubber bands, glue, and tape shouldn’t come in contact with photos, unless specifically designed as safe for photos.
  • Plastic pages, bags, and boxes that aren’t acid-free might release harmful vapors that permanently damage photos. These plastic products are considered safe: polypropylene, polyethylene, mylar, tyvek, and cellulose triacetate. Before you buy, check labels on photo boxes, mats, and albums to make sure they’re acid-free and photo-safe.
  • Always frame photos using acid-free matting materials.
  • Keep photos away from wood, plywood, chipboard, rubber cement, animal glue, shellac, contact cement, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), pressure-sensitive tape, and porous marking pens.
  • Adhesives might chemically interact with images and ruin the photos if you try to remove them from an album at a later date. Use only specially made acid-free glue sticks, markers, and corners on your photos.
  • Never use magnetic photo albums that have damaging glues on the photo pages.

It’s important to know how to organize your family photos for safe and easy storage. Here are some tips on how you can do this.  We hope that our blog post has helped you learn more about organizing your photographs, as well as provided a few helpful hints that will make the process easier! Which of these photo organization methods have been most effective in helping keep those memories alive? What would be your best tip when it comes to storing old family photos safely? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!

Sharing is Caring!