Photo Organization: Tags vs Albums

Tools to help with Memory-Keeping Organization

Many photo organization programs and websites offer a variety of tools to help organize your media. A couple of these organizational tools include Albums and Tags. Each program may call these tools a variety of names and you can check your individual software to see if it supports the concepts we’ll discuss in this article. As an analogy to understand, we will use the example of a library – you know, those buildings that have books…

The Library

In your photo organization, the Library has ALL of the books whether they are on a shelf or not. Likewise, your photo library has ALL of your photos, whether they are organized or not. That means if you delete something from the library, you are deleting the file from any albums or tags that it is in.


A very helpful feature of your photo organization is albums. Albums are more like the bookshelves in the library. In the library, each shelf holds books that are related somehow. For example, there is a shelf for gardening books, another for biographies, etc. In your memory-keeping organization, each album holds a certain group of pictures that are somehow related or tell a story. (Where the analogy breaks down is that a single picture can be in multiple albums, but it is still only stored in a single location on your computer.)

Albums also give you a good way to share groups of pictures. You can create albums for anything you
want including:
Events – such as holidays, vacations, birthdays, graduation, weddings, etc.)
People – You could have an album for individual people or families, or even use an Ahnentafel numbering system we discussed in a previous article.
Date – Albums can be by decade, year, month, or any other increment you like
Documents – An album could hold documents relating to wills, finances, or any other you need
School – Documenting a school year is another example of what can be stored in an album

These are just a few ideas. You can also use nested albums to further refine your organizational structure. Many times, albums are a great way to share pictures with family and friends.


Like the Library Catalog, Tags are a way to Index your photo organization. For our library analogy, you can have multiple entries in the catalog for one book. The same is true for tags in your memory-keeping organization, you can assign any number of tags to a single file. For example, an individual photo could be tagged with the names of the people in the photo, the event that is happening in the photo, the place the photo was taken, or any number of things you might want to identify. To find a photo, you can search your entire library to find all of the photos that are tagged with a specific tag.

Ideas and Help

Feel free to contact me for more ideas and help with your photo organizing goals!

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