OK, I’ll admit it. I am not a very organised person. It is not something I am proud of. I am forever reading books on decluttering and getting organised. I buy even more books on the topic, but then they get put somewhere and I can’t find them! Urbandictionary.com defines organised as “a word used to describe people who are too lazy to look for things”. That might just be my favourite quote ever! Seriously, if I could bundle up the time I spend looking for things I could take a nice long holiday.

So you might be surprised to hear that when it comes to my photos, I am very organised. Well, my digital photos that is – won’t discuss my printed photos today, thanks. Last week I wrote a tip on using the “Search Vault” function in Memory Manager, and I have been asked to describe the way I have my photos sorted. So if you will indulge me, here it is. (Disclaimer: This is how I do it. I am not telling you this is how you should do it. If you are happy with your system, go with it. If your digital images are all over the place, you might pick up some useful tips here)

  • Vaults

Memory Manager stores images in what it calls a vault. A vault is just a folder in your computer. I know some people have lots of vaults, but to me having all my photos in one Memory Vault is a key component of making MM work for you. The only separate vaults I have are for the two big overseas holidays I have taken in the last 5 years.

  • Sort Boxes & Folders

I used to have lots of sort boxes, with folders cascading down 3 or 4 or more levels. I thought it was very clever, and very tidy. Trouble was I could never remember where all the folders were, and I was spending forever clicking on layers of folders trying to find photos. I would end up with whole folders for just a few images. Once I learned about using the Search Vault button, I turfed all my folders and started from scratch. Now I can find any photo in 2-3 clicks, and I can spend more time digi-scrapping, and less time tearing my hair out.

  • My Sort Boxes

Everything in my life seems to fit under 6 headings. Not sure what that says about my life!!

I do also have a couple of “loose” folders. Things that don’t quite fit in those headings, but don’t need a sort box of their own. There is one for my Day2Day photos (which mostly are also in other folders, but I wanted to keep them all together). There is a folder called Odds & Ends for photos that just don’t fit anywhere.

Inside each Sort Box are my folders. I will show you just what I have, but obviously this reflects my family and my life, so each person’s would look quite different. (Some headings changed for privacy reasons)


Church Events Family House Places Sport
Weekends Away New Year’s Eve My family Renovations Major holidays Cricket
At church Weddings (individual names) Current home Weekends Away Footy
Special Events Christmas Siblings Previous homes Favourite Places Swans
School Grandparents Garden Zoos
Family gatherings Friends My home town
Birthdays Pets
Special Days
  • Some explanations

The Family Sort Box is the only one that has a second level of sort boxes. So My Family, Siblings and Grandparents are Sort Boxes. My husband, my 2 sons and I all have our own folders, but the siblings and grandparents are listed by family unit. (Eg my sister & her husband and children are all in one folder). Zoos gets a folder of it’s own because zoo photography is a hobby of mine. The Swans are our favourite footy team (Australian Football), the Footy folder is photos of my son playing footy.

To understand how I cope with such broad headings, you will need to read the recent tip, and also this one , which is on using the Timeline in Memory Manager.

Any given photo will be in at least one but often two or more folders. An outing to the zoo with my sister-in-law, Helen and her boys  would go in Zoos, family outings, and in Helen’s family folder. A school Christmas party with my children would go in school, Christmas and in each of my sons’ folders. (Probably not mine because I used to avoid getting my photo taken – but that might be the topic for another blog).

  • Guiding Principals
  1. KISS – Keep It Simple Sweetheart. If my system takes more than a few minutes to set up, it is too complicated and I won’t use it.
  2. Keep on top of it. Label and folderise (is that a word?) your images as soon as you download them from your camera
  3. Start with your most recent photos. If your photos are not organised at all, this task may seem overwhelming. But if you start with your current photos, you will never get any further behind, and you can catch up on the older photos as you find time.
  4. Just do it.
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10 Responses to Blog: Getting Organised

  1. debzz debzz says:

    What happens now that we have catagories and folders, not sort boxes?
    How do we change the name of catagories and move pictures around?
    How do you delete a catagory you don’t want anymore?
    Trying to simplify and get more organized…pictures pictures pictures!

    • Shelley says:

      Categories and tags work pretty much the same as Sort Boxes and folders (respectively). These videos (PART 1 and PART 2) will give you an overview, and we will have lots over the next few weeks & months that will answer your questions fully. To delete a category, just click the drop-down arrow and you’ll see a delete option in the menu.

  2. Lanita Medina says:

    just an observation – organized is not spelled organised… is that spell typo on purpose on your blog? what you have written is very helpful as I am teaching a session on this very topic next week.

    • Carolyn says:

      Hi Lanita, I’m going to step in as an American and tell you that “organized” is spelled “organized” in the United States, but the correct spelling in Australia is “organised.” As a pixels2Pages team, we had to decide how we would handle these spelling differences and we made the decision to honor our international teammates by spelling words as they are correctly spelled in our own countries, at least in our own personal blog posts. Thanks for pointing out the error, but this one’s not incorrect. 🙂 You’ll also notice differences in color/colour often used on our site and I’m sure there are many others. We try as a team to proofread everything that gets published. We do sometimes miss some typos though so we appreciate your eagle eye!

  3. marytwells says:

    My folders are pretty much the same with the family folder being the most compartmentalized. I also have a friends folder where I organize friends and their kids, etc. by their last name. That way if a friend asks for a pic, I can find it easily. I also have a work folder for work events etc.
    The simpler the better, I try to sort pictures right away after uploading them. Currently, I have about 500 unsorted but they are all from a recent vacation. I also empty my phone pictures and save pictures in MM that friends send me in emails.
    I have about 25,000 pictures so far.

  4. Suziqcat says:

    I organize many things the same way you do. When I started, I was sorting things into Trip 2010, Trip 2009, etc…then the lightbulb went off and I started letting the program sort by date for me! That certainly cut down on the number of boxes I needed!

    I would like to see how people use the rating system…I am not sure how this extra step would make finding items easier.

    I am a big fan of the print track feature. A money saver for sure!

  5. Kim says:

    I love your new word “folderise”! You have given me a lot to ponder! I really like how you use MM!

  6. dpasquini says:

    I just transferred over my MM and SBC 4.0 to a new laptop. I ditched all my sort boxes and folders on my old computer and re-organized my vault. Kept things much simpler and much easier to find, too! Simple is the only way to go!

  7. Maureen says:

    I’m wondering what they would say about us Oregonians if our Ducks and Beavers started playing “footy!” Seriously Shelley, simple is the way to go! I still find some organizing in Memory Manager as they did with all the My Pictures files on their computer. I just love the search feature in MM and it makes setting up our Sorting system so much easier! Thanks for keeping us on our toes (or should I say feet)! Oh, and the Swans must be a very graceful team to watch!

  8. clsmith19 says:

    I am working on my 30,000+ photos a little each day and have been for over a week. I have a lot of them done and in their folders and my story written. When we sit down at night to watch TV I get my laptop and get started. If I don’t stay busy while watching TV I find it watching me within the 1st hour. You would be surprised just how many photos you can get through in 4 or 5 hours of television. Wish me luck.

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