How to Quickly Organize a Large Collection of Images, Some Thoughts and a Solution

by Jawwad in Software, Tips&Tricks, Windows | 3 comments

image collection | How to Quickly Organize a Large Collection of Images, Some Thoughts and a Solution These days it is not uncommon for many people to download/collect a large amount of images from Internet. Particularly after the immense popularity of online photo sharing services such as Flickr, Picasa, Smugmug and Zooomr this trend has increased drastically. And then there is a large number of photos that we take ourselves on regular basis thanks to the continuous trend of falling prices on higher resolution multi-megapixel digital cameras. Under most circumstances these pictures/photos tend to originate from multiple sources, online or personal photography etc. It is highly desirable to organize this large collection of images in a logical manner so that future retrieval and searching is easier. Organization may be as simple as categorizing images in to family, wallpapers, scenery, people, movies and comics folders or a more complex than this depending upon on an individual’s requirements. Under many circumstances this can be a cumbersome process to do manually, particularly when all the images that needs to be organized are mixed up in a single folder. Of-course this is not possible to automate this process(in most cases) because of the nature of the task(each image may require human judgement to be directed to a category).

Now the problem that I have described has some simple(but tedious) solutions but none of them is entirely satisfactory. One of them is to open the images folder in a photo viewer such as IrfanView in thumbnail view mode and from there select and move the files to the respective folders. But it is quite tedious to select and then move files in different folders based on categories when you have hundreds of files. Second approach is that there are some free image organization applications that will allow to tag the images (FSViewer, XNView, Windows Live Photo Gallery etc.). Second approach may be less tedious than the first one but the problem is that in many cases this organization is program dependent and you can’t take advantage of the organization that you will perform in that software outside of that software (contrast this with the categorization based on the folders). Although tagging does have some inherent advantages such as multiple tags may be associated with a single image. I think for tagging to be effective(not just for images but for any file) it needs to be supported at the Operating System level. Unfortunately, Windows XP not allows to define and associate custom tags for the files natively (although some hacks and utilities are available to do it at a software level). Even Windows Vista has limited support for tagging (a major disappointment in this case) contrast this with the native tagging support in Mac OS X.

An image organization utility called keyimage may be helpful here as it allows to organize images in different folders in most efficient manner currently possible(in my opinion). Although it is also manual and human intervention is necessary, but it is still quite efficient as it will save you a few clicks and more importantly time. It works like this -  you start the utility and give it the path to the folder where your images are stored and after that it will display all the images starting from the first image in the directory allowing to classify each image with a single key stroke. When you are done, keyimage will move each image to a subdirectory according to which key you classified it with.

 keyimage | How to Quickly Organize a Large Collection of Images, Some Thoughts and a Solution

To best understand this take a look at the example given below(as provided by the author of this utility).

Let’s say you have a directory containing pictures of three things: cats, landscapes, and delicious cakes. You decide ahead of time to use the letter ‘c’ for cats, ‘l’ for landscapes, and ‘d’ for delicious cakes.

keyimage before thumb | How to Quickly Organize a Large Collection of Images, Some Thoughts and a Solution

So you open keyimage and select this directory. Then each time you see a cat picture, you press ‘c’, and so forth. When you are finished the cat pictures will move to ‘keyimage/c/’, the landscapes to ‘keyimage/l/’ and the delicious cakes to ‘keyimage/d/’.

keyimage after tn | How to Quickly Organize a Large Collection of Images, Some Thoughts and a Solution

There are also some special keys, ‘enter’ to finish early (unseen images stay where they are) ‘backspace’ to go back to the previous image.

Of course, you will manually have to properly name the folders after the operation is finished(such as rename ‘c’ to ‘Cats’ and ‘l’ to ‘Landscape’ etc.). It could be better if this utility by itself allowed to map keystrokes to complete folder names rather than just alphabets. But this is just a minor blemish.

It may not solve the image organization dilemma completely as human intervention is still needed but at least this utility is targeted at a specific task and will save you a number of extra clicks and time when approaching this problem by other means. Try it yourself and see that if it can save you some valuable time.  If you have some other more efficient solution to this problem then let me know.

You can download Keyimage here.

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  • virox

    I hope people will read this, but I can’t find this “keyimage” program anywhere. Did it vanish from the internet or something? Please answer.

  • virox

    Please, I really need someone who can give me that program. The link in your post doesn’t work anymore. Jawwad, if you still have it, can you provide keyimage please?

  • Neil

    Also looking for the keyimage program, but the link is dead, can you please post another link.

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