©2021 Donald R. Snow -- This page last updated 2021-09-13.

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ABSTRACT:  Digital photos come from digital cameras, smartphones, scanners, and screenshots.  This class will discuss some ideas of file naming so you can find what you are looking for in your photos.  Freeware programs help by extracting the date and time from the photo metadata and putting it into the title, so they sort chronologically.  Keywords or tags can be added so that other freeware programs then help find what you are looking for.  The notes for this class, with active links and related articles are posted on my website .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. The notes for this class with active URLs, as well as additional information in other notes and articles, are posted at .
  3. Tips:  (1)  To put an icon on your desktop for these notes, or any webpage, just drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser onto your desktop.  (2)  To open a link, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control key while clicking the link.
  4. The problem for today:  How to name digital photos so they sort chronologically and you can find what you want.

  6. Digital photos come from places like digital cameras, smartphones, scanning hard copy photos, and screenshots, and are usually in jpg, tif, png, and a few other formats. 
  7. Once digitized they can be named so you can find what you are looking for by such things as date and time taken and keywords or tags of what's included.
  8. Files can then be organized into groups or used in slideshows or other ways.
  9. For photos of documents, usually in pdf, I use a different naming system that is described in other notes and classes.

  11. Digital cameras and smartphones have clocks built in that record the exact date and time photos are taken -- be sure your camera clock is set correctly; smartphones get their times from the carrier, so don't need to be set
  12. Date and time and other data such as the camera, settings, GPS location, etc., are stored for each photo in the netadata of the file and stay with the photo.
  13. "Metadata" means "about" and is very useful. 
  14. To see the metadata for a photo right-click on the file and go to Properties > Advanced > Details  -- you can edit the metadata, if you want
  15. Can sort by the metadata, but my method extracts the date and time using a freeware program and puts them in the file name, so the photos sort in chronological order; then added keywords (tags) in the title describe what's in the file.

  17. To work with photo files download them to your computer -- download camera photos with a USB cable; download smartphone photos by copying them to DROPBOX or GOOGLE DRIVE, etc. My iPhone 8+ doesn't always include all the metadata in photos and I don't know why.
  18. Metadata in photo files is also called EXIF data
  19. Free program NAMEXIF available from -- -- will copy the date and time from the metadata into the file name. 
  20. Set it to work on one or more photos -- start with just a few until you see how it works
  21. I use the Custom option and set it to rename the photo file to PHOTO-[Date & Time YYYY-MM-DD-hh-mm-ss]-[Former File Name]. 
  22. The date format YYYY-MM-DD is International Date Format and makes the files sort chronologically. 
  23. I include the old photo name so I can always go back to find the original, if I need it later, since I save all the originals in separate files that I don't always rename.
  24. Here's a screenshot of my Custom Options settings in NAMEXIF.
  25.   https:/
  26. Now click Next to start renaming the files.  When it finishes, click Finish. 
  27. Your photo files will now be named PHOTO-[Date & Time]-IMGxxxxx.jpg, etc. 
  28. Such files are easy to find anywhere on your computer by using the free program EVERYTHING available from -- -- and discussed in other Freeware Corner articles. 
  29. Searching for PHOTO in EVERYTHING now brings up all your photos in chronological order from anywhere on your computer.

  31. The above is the easy part.  The hard part is now to add keywords or tags in the file names, e.g. the location of the photo, who is included, etc. 
  32. EVERYTHING helps with this since you can turn on Preview and show the photo without having to open it in a program while you rename it. 
  33. I add keywords after the date and time including such things as location, people, event, etc.
  34. Once you have the files renamed, EVERYTHING will find all photos in chronological order for the keywords you enter; or you can search by date taken.
  35. With such a list you can copy or move them to another folder for further use. 
  36. For scanned pictures and slides, estimate the year, at least, and put it at the start of the name; I sometimes use YYYY-00-00 so I know it's an estimated date. 
  37. For Macs there is a comparable program like EVERYTHING.

  39. Another free utility program that helps here is BULK RENAME UTILITY available from -- .  
  40. This is a more complicated program and  allows editing or replacing any characters or words in file names or adding prefixes or suffixes and much more. For instance, if you misspell a person's name in several photo names, rename those files in BRU so you correct all the file names at once.
  41. I use this to put "PHOTO" at the start of all photo names for scanned pictures and slides, since these don't have metadata with the original dates.

  43. Naming photo files so you can find them on your computer takes time, but will make your photos more accessible for you and others.
  44. Just having the date and time in the title makes them findable, if you know approximately when the photo was taken. 
  45. Use a system that works for you, but be consistent, so you can modify it easily later, if you want
  46. If you don't already have a system, perhaps start with this system and modify it as you want later; go back to your old photos a little at a time, since it's a major task.
  47. Don't get discouraged!  It's a big task.  Good luck.
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