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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 17: Organize Your Digital Photos

Level Easy

Platform Windows, Mac OS X

Cost Free

The ubiquity of digital cameras, camera phones, and cheap storage means that even the most amateur photographers can accumulate hundreds — even thousands — of digital photos on their computers over time. After even just a few months of taking photos, it’s easy to wind up with a hard drive cluttered with a bunch of folders filled with images named things like IMG_8394.jpg. Pictures don’t mean anything unless someone sees them, and no one will see the photos buried on your computer if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

The problem with digital photos is that your computer doesn’t have much information about them. To your computer, a digital picture is just a collection of different-colored dots. Some information is stored inside a photo when it’s snapped, such as what your camera settings were and the date and time, but the photo doesn’t tell your computer who’s in the picture or at what event it was taken. To make your photos searchable (and therefore useful), you have to add metadata such as captions, labels, and ratings to them. Google’s free photo organizer for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Picasa (http://picasa.com), can help you organize, edit, caption, label, star, and even automatically recognize faces in your digital photos.

Import Your Photos into Picasa

Download Picasa from http://picasa.com (free) and install it on your PC. The first time you launch the program, it asks whether it should ...

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