Organize & Archive

Tagging photos: why it’s important

Written by Digicamhelp Editor

Tagging digital images allows you to quickly find files based on common keywords and phrases you attribute to them. It sure beats navigating through folders on your hard drive.


Digital photography opened a whole new world of freedom for photographers. It gave them the opportunity to take seemingly endless number of photos, free from the cost of film development.

However, with this new freedom came a problem: difficulty sorting through hundreds of photos to find a specific image stored on your hard drive.

The problem

For many, keeping images in folders simply is not adequate. The only way to organize photos into categories and subcategories is to create new folders and sub-folders, duplicate an image and place it in the folder. This process can be time consuming and is not very practical, particularly if hard disk space is limited.


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Tagging: the solution

Fortunately, there is a solution: categorizing subject matter using keywords and phrases known as tags.

Tags allow you to search for and find files based on common terms you attribute to them such as subject matter, name, event and location. Images can be given any number of tags.

After tagging, you search for images with keywords. Every word with that tag is located quickly and then can be viewed as a group.

Tag images while reviewing

Many software programs let you easily tag photos as you view them on your hard drive. Other programs, such as Adobe Lightroom, offer very sophisticated tools for tagging and searching. However, the level of sophistication is something professional photographers and photo enthusiasts will find most useful.

Most casual photographers do not need a sophisticated tagging system. But if they take more than a few shots, they can benefit from tagging.

Star rated imageSome programs not only let you tag photos, but rate and star them. For example, you may mark all your favorite photos with a star, or number them between one and five.

When searching for photos, you can refine your search. For example, searching for “Family” and “Fred” will locate all the photos containing Fred with the rest of his family. But if you exclude the term “Fred,” the search will return every photo you’ve tagged “Family,” whether Fred is in them or not.

Tagging photos is quick and easy and, when you do, finding photos is quick and easy too. Check your software help files for specifics.