Now that you’ve found your media and chosen a platform for where you want to store and organize your media going forward, it’s time to pull all your photos and videos together to make the final ongoing part of the process easier. As always, feel free to visit the Tidy ’24 Calendar page to see everything we’ve covered so far.

Photos Week 3: Centralize Your Collection

It’s time to dive into a task that isn’t just looking for stuff or deciding things! This week, you get to start pulling your media collection together into a single location to prepare it for the final sorting, filtering, culling, and organization step–something that will be ongoing as long as you continue making or collecting new media.

Depending on which platform you decided to use last week (such as Mylio, Monument, Google Photos, or self-managed local media storage), the specific steps of this task will look a bit different. However, the same high-level approach works either way. I also encourage you to check out this week’s video for extra commentary and example discussion if you don’t usually do that anyway.

Action Steps:

  1. Choose one device or service at a time to work with for importing your media. Focus only on that until you’ve transferred all your photos and videos to your target platform.
  2. COPY, don’t MOVE to ensure you can return to the original messy set in an emergency during the later steps of the process.
  3. Identify each device as completed when finished to track what remains. You can use a sticky note, a handwritten list, or a physical box into which you put finished devices (works better for old hard drives or devices).

If you’re using something like Google Photos, you’ll need to install the relevant app on your smartphone, tablet, or computer to streamline the upload procedure. On desktops or laptops, you can also use a web browser to upload sets of files easily. However, I recommend a dedicated app for more efficient (or ongoing) transfer of more extensive collections. Google’s apps can be found here. Cloud-based services generally leave the original copy in place unless you specifically configure different behavior, so you don’t have to worry about the whole “copy vs. move” thing.

If you’ve chosen local storage with a self-managed folder structure approach or one of the hybrid choices I recommended last week (Mylio or Monument), you’ll most likely want one or more dedicated hard drives to act as the master location. Monument’s device does this for you, but Mylio relies on your hardware for the primary copy.

Although you can make it work with the built-in storage on a laptop or desktop, it always helps to have a single-purpose drive to simplify organization and backups. If you can afford it and aren’t intentionally using a 100% cloud-based solution (which I wouldn’t recommend), you should consider getting at least one photo-specific drive.

As you work through each device (digital camera, phone, hard drive, USB flash drive, memory card, computer, etc.) or cloud storage platform (Google PhotosiCloud PhotosDropbox, etc.), note when you’ve finished importing or copying what you need. This makes it clear how much you’ve accomplished and what still remains.

Once you get through everything on the list you put together in Week 1, your whole collection of photos and videos will be conveniently gathered in one spot, ready to take the final step: organizing!

…but we’ll get to that task next week.

Feel free to reply to this email if you have questions about any of the platforms mentioned above or are considering something not mentioned. I’ll be happy to look into it and answer any questions I can.

How Does This Help?

Gathering all of your photos and videos into one spot makes it possible to organize the entire collection at once. This is particularly important for steps like de-duplication and similar photo detection. Cataloging, organization, and management tools always work best when they can access the entire media set simultaneously. With this approach, you’ll avoid needing to do some steps multiple times.

Who Does This Help?

Anyone with photos and videos spread across multiple devices or services can benefit from gathering everything together. These days, that describes most of us. It makes the organization process much more efficient and provides a clear sense of control and direction over this significant aspect of our digital lives.

Who Does This NOT Help?

If you only have one device with photos and videos, either because you’ve done this already or you only take pictures with one thing, there’s no need to do it again. Or, if you specifically need to keep certain parts of your collection separate–for example, because your profession requires it–obviously, this isn’t a helpful process. However, this most likely doesn’t describe many of my readers.

Quick Review

For Week 3, your task is to centralize your collection. You want everything copied (or uploaded) into a single location, either on a hard drive you have or a cloud service dedicated to photo storage and management. Ensure you copy, not move as you go along to keep the originals available as an emergency backup until you’re 100% satisfied with the new centralized collection. Label each device when you finish with it.

Getting your digital photo and video collection into one place is a significant achievement and puts you ahead of the curve in digital organization. Take a moment to appreciate the effort you’ve put in! You’re now more organized than most people, and you’ve laid a solid foundation for the next steps in managing your digital memories.

If you have questions about this task or anything related to digital organization, feel free to reply to this email, and I’ll be happy to talk.

Happy data-taming!

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