digi scrapping organization

(I just can’t get away from talking about the digiscrapping. Oh well.)

As in paper scrapbooking, people wonder about how to keep all those luscious digital supplies in order. Some people talk about copying all their papers into one file, so as to have all their papers together, and so on. The very thought makes me cringe – first of all, I have SO MANY FILES. And how do you look at them all? Or figure out where you got them from? Do you keep multiple copies of the same item? If so, you’ll probably have space issues all too soon. What about keeping kits together so that you can take advantage of the nice coordinated products and all?

My method is this (I use the amazing Photoshop Elements Organizer, just as I do for photos):

First I download a freebie or bought item, then I move it from my desktop to the appropriate folder. I have a folder on my external hard drive called digiscrap supplies, and within that folder various others, named after the places that I get my supplies (occasionally after the designer herself); so for example, DesignerDigital, OScraps, Shabby Princess, Katie the SBLady, Scrap Artist, 2peas and so on. (Freebies always go in the main folder; if I paid for it, it goes in a “paid” folder within the location folder. I like to keep my paid stuff somewhat separate.) I put the zip file into the designated folder, and then unzip it. After I’m done unzipping my files, I move the zip files to their own folder: “unzipped” and “unzipped paid.” Less clutter. I don’t move any of the actual files or anything (except if there’s an .abr brush file, or a pattern file, I do copy that and put it in a folder I have specified for my PSE brushes – but I leave the original in the folder, just as it unzipped). I usually unzip things one kit at a time, unless I have lots of small individual freebies that don’t go with anything in particular.

PSE Collections screenshotNext I go to my PSE Organizer. Under normal circumstances, it automatically detects that there are new files and asks if I want to import them, so I just click yes. Every now and then for some reason it doesn’t do this, and I have to choose Get Files from Files and Folders and do it manually — it’s not too bad though, because there is a box to check for “get files from subfolders” so it’ll grab them all at once rather than making me go back and do it again and again from each folder. So it pulls up thumbnails of the files – tip! press Ctrl-A instead of going through and checking each individual box. I won’t tell you how long it took me to figure that out. Ahem.

It then imports them, and right away I begin filing them. I first put them in a collection. My collections are named by designer/shop, and then kits or categories within that. So for example, Shabby Princess collection group, and under that collections with the names of the kits: Festival, Two Soon, etc. I sometimes have a collection called “LDD freebies” and “LDD paid other” for things that I want in a collection, but that aren’t part of a large kit.

Here at the left is a screen shot of my Collections bar, so you can see some of the different categories that I mean. My general rule for this (as with most of my scrapbook organizing) is: where would I look for it? How would I find it? In digi, I tend to want my kits together, so that I can easily look through them and use them for whole albums — also so that I can scan through them for color schemes and so on. However, sometimes I want to break out of the kit mentality, and try matching up things myself, or I want to find a particular item – a ribbon, or brad, or photo corner or something. That’s where the tag part of the system comes in.

Next I use tags to file them by item type. Here’s my list of tags, all under category Scrap Digi and subcategory Digi Scrap Elements:

  • alphabets
  • brads/buttons
  • brushes, overlays
  • embellish (hearts, stars, anything that defies other categorization)
  • flowers
  • metals, inking
  • paper
  • plopper, templates
  • ribbon, stitching
  • swatch cards (for all the preview images, very nice for abbreviated browsing)
  • tags, frames, photo corners
  • theme (clear themes like Christmas, Halloween, etc.)
  • to file (I use this mostly for TOU images and other such extras)
  • words

I also have a subcategory for color tags – ROYGBIV – but I’m way behind on tagging things with those. In a way it’s sort of silly to have them, since you can recolor things so easily, but oh well. And finally I also have a tag called Paid Good Money, so that I remember to use the ones I actually paid for as often as possible. It’s nice that I can choose to exclude the entire Scrap Digi category when I want to see how many photos I have, not counting all the digi supplies (which easily add several thousand files to my PSE catalog).

I use the Stack Photos feature to group alphabets together – it makes them more manageable when I’m looking through the Organizer normally, not having to scroll through 26 (well, more with numbers) individual letter files all the time — when you pull up the collection the alphabet is in they will be visible unstacked (and you can always do that manually in the regular part of the organizer, too).

So that’s my system for digi supplies. This way I always know where I got something (for the purpose of crediting, etc.) and can also just look for supplies by coordinated kit, or simply by what it is (let’s see, I really need a flower here…). It’s been working great so far. One more note: when I’m doing a coordinated album (like the birthday one I did for my dad – hm, I should post that – or the family reunion one I’m in the midst of, or the baby album I need to do for my boy) I decide which kit (and extra items) I want to stick with for it, then I either make an additional tag (“Family Reunion Album”) or collection, and apply it to all those files, as well as the photos I want to include. It’s like my “supply bag,” keeping all the supplies for that project together, and then when I’m working on it I just click that tag (or collection) and it pulls up everything I need for it, and from there I choose my photos and supplies for any given page and just open them into the Editor.

Then later I delete the temporary tag or collection and it is removed from all those photos and files. At least, as far as the Organizer goes it does. However, I recently read that while PSE applies tags to the files, right in the metadata, it does not actually remove them from the metadata when you delete the tag, or remove it from a photo. So I think I’ll probably start using a collection instead of a tag for this “supply bag” purpose. One other reason to do this – when I click on a tag it takes a while to sort through and load just those photos; loading a collection is much faster.

So there you are. I’m sure you could institute a similar system with any program that lets you use tags and so on – Picasa, ACDSee (I think), or others. I just hope that someday in the distant future when I actually get real live Photoshop, that it plays nicely with the PSE Organizer. Because I would be lost without this thing.

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5 responses to “digi scrapping organization

  1. You have an excellent system set up, much like I used when I started digiscrapping! Unfortunately, after accumulating about 20Gb of materials, the program bogs down and make searching, organizing, etc. a nightmare! I’m glad that I switched to ACDSee after discovering this, before I had over 75Gb of supplies to organize!

  2. Great post. It’s one thing to be a creative digital scrapbooker, but it takes so much longer when you are disorganized

  3. I just got Elements 6.0 and I am very frustrated with it’s menu system.
    In 5.0 I could make my own menu with my own file names for their drop downs and I could delete their ugly papers etc.
    I was wondering if anyone has figured out how to customize the drop down menus in 6.0 in order to organize the files?

    Also, using the org. system above, do your png files come in at weird sizes?

  4. I have a few questions for you regarding PSE tags if you don’t mind.
    I have all of my scrapbooking supplies on my laptop and backed up to an external hard drive (which I am thinking of taking them off my laptop and just having them on 2 separate external hard drives, do you think this is a good idea?). Well, my laptop hard drive crashed and the computer store replaced it with a new one (they backed up all of my data and put it onto the new hard drive). I was using PSE7, so I thought it would be a good idea to update to PSE11. I am in the process of getting the PSE7 tag catalogue off of the old hard drive and transferred onto the new hard drive. I think there is a way of getting all the tags transferred into PSE11??? Now, for my “real” questions, if I remove all of my supplies off of my laptop and just use them from the external hard drive, will all of the tags “follow” the image or do I have to do something else to keep the tags/image together? Or will I have to retag all of the images from my external hard drive location? Also, at some point I will be getting a new laptop, so can I just save the catalogue on the old laptop and transfer all of the tags over to the new laptop? I don’t want to put a lot of time and effort into PSE organizer if I will just end up having to redo it in the future. Please help!!!

    • Hi Cindy! It’s been a while since I upgraded versions of PSE, so I’ll help as best I can.

      First of all, my understanding is that you should be able to upgrade the catalog. That is, first get your original catalog file onto your laptop or wherever you’re going to have it (mine is on my laptop, as opposed to on my EHD – external hard drive). Then upgrade to PSE11 and there should be a way to have it transfer/update your catalog to the new version. You absolutely should not have to retag everything, because the catalog should move to the new version.

      Now, if you move all your supplies from your laptop to an external hard drive (which is what I have, all my photos and supplies on an EHD, and one for backing up is a great idea; I also back my photos and supplies up online with Crashplan.com): again, you should not have to retag everything. What you will have to do is RECONNECT everything. Basically, the PSE catalog knows where all your files are. If you move a file, then it no longer knows, unless you do it through the program itself – which is fine if you’re just doing a few files, but for moving everything that’s not going to work so well, probably. SO you’ll need to reconnect everything. For this (and also moving your catalog) I suggest using the built in help files if you run into issues, or googling any questions you have – but basically what will happen is you’ll move the stuff to the EHD and then open your catalog and choose reconnect (I think it’s under the file tab at the top, but I have an older version so it may be different on yours. But I know it’s there somewhere; look in the help files). Then you can let it do it automatically, or you can help it along – my computer takes a long time so I usually do some manually. Either way, you’ll just be letting the catalog know where the files are now, and once you do that all your tagging and everything will be intact.

      And yes, when you get a new laptop, you would move the catalog file over to the new machine and all should be well.

      Hope that helps!

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