First, the dilemna. Nothing urgent, but I have years and years worth of photo's scattered everywhere on my HD. What's worse is that a great many are duplicates that have been re-touched, renamed, saved in different formats to different folders by a variety of names. It's an accident scene. I know zero about Organizer, catalogs, etc (shamefully) but hope it isn't too late to sort out the mess. I just don't want to assume/expect too much from Organizer ahead of time.
With the basic goal of cataloging image files on my computer in order to see and selectively delete duplicates (along with linked originals), and give each a more approprate name (ie:20190916_204436_0.jpg) and tag keepers making them easier to fetch, etc, would Organizer be a reasonably good approach - maybe the best approach?
Supposing it is, should I gather all my image files together into one giant folder first? A bad idea to move originals once cataloging is complete right? Windows 7 & 10 PSE 2019 Thanks.
As a fanboy of the Organizer, having used the program seriously since version 3 and upgraded every version thereafter, my answer is that it is the best solution for your dilemma. Over the years, I have tried out a number of other programs but I have never left the Organizer.
There is no reason to gather your images in one folder before cataloging them. The Organizer is a database program and will find and display your images no matter where they are on your computer. It is also not necessary to rename your images beforehand.
However, once you have your images "Organized", you can in fact move and rename your files if you want to clean up your computer. The Organizer has the facility to do this, but as I think you already know, you should only use the Organizer, not File Explorer, to do this, once your files have been cataloged. Also, one easy way to do this would be to backup the catalog in the Organizer and restore the files to a new location/drive/main folder.
The Organizer will also provide some measure of avoiding duplicates. However, depending on what you consider to be a duplicate, the program will not free up your computer from them if that is one of your goals. To do that, you should use one of the many duplicate file finding utilities that are out there.
The program has many features that provide some automation to tagging your images. It will provide automatic "smart" tagging of your files as a first step. While the process is not perfect, it will give you a head-start in finding an image that you want before you go through your pictures to tag them manually. Face recognition is also a great aid in tagging and finding people in your images. If you have a large number of video files, I would also recommend upgrading to Elements 2020, as this version introduced face recognition for video files.
Depending on the number of media files you have, the automatic processing can take many days (even weeks) of 24/7 computer use. But at the end of the road, you will have a program that will allow you to find your photos in seconds.
One final point for now, the Organizer has many other features besides organization. I find that the Instant Fix editor provides a very quick and easy batch editing tool. While I have many photo editing programs on my machine, I am using it more and more to do a quick cleanup of my images. The Slideshow editor also provides a quick and easy way to create a video slideshow.
So, to sum up, what have you got to lose by trying it out? You may like it. And if you run into any issues, there are some knowledgeable folk here to help you out.
"First, the dilemna. Nothing urgent, but I have years and years worth of photo's scattered everywhere on my HD. What's worse is that a great many are duplicates that have been re-touched, renamed, saved in different formats to different folders by a variety of names. It's an accident scene."
You are not alone... It's the usual situation when one decides to undertake the hard job of putting some order in the 'mess'. As you have correctly stated, learning about catalogs is one of two distinct solutions:
1 - using 'browsers' like Explorer to move, rename folders, using duplicate finders, renaming tools and external backup solutions.
2 - using an organizing 'toolkit' like the organizer. That does not forbid the use of the above external tools, but that allows to have a plan for a progressive improvement of your library.
As I am (very) partial to the organizer, I'll stress the different stages in the process.
a) Start with any copy, cloning or backup utility to save your disk as it is. You'll feel safer afterwards even if that backup should not be used later. Be sure to have at least one extenal drive with enough capacity to store organizer backups. The most urgent step is to insure that your precious library is safe whatever happens.
b) There comes the organizer into play. There is a function to 'import' all your library into a catalog. Take the time to read the online help files about catalogs. Your drives are scanned for media files, for each file a record is created for its location, exif data and possible tags, a thumbnail is created for visual search. This automatic 'import' does not create any duplicates, only links to the physical media files. After that stage, nothing is changed in your 'mess' on the drive, but you can already select files based on dates, exif properties and tags or captions if present.
c) now it's important to understand how the organizer deals with importing 'duplicates'. For the organizer, duplicates are not files with the same name. They are files with the same precise 'date taken' and size in kilobytes. Different 'versions' or files with the same name are not duplicates. So, the above importing stage will only register non duplicates in the catalog. The first one is registered, the other ones are compared with what is currently in the catalog and rejected if already present.
d) After that initial importing stage is ready, use the backup process of the organizer to store a backup on a dedicated external drive. That backup folder is not a simple copy of your media files, it contains those plus the catalog folder itself. You can only use it to 'restore' where you want (like a 'zip' folder). You have not yet started to clear the mess, but you are safe and you have already skipped a number of real duplicates.
e) You have now an option to 'restore' your library to a 'custom' master folder on a drive of your choice. Usually you keep the option to restore the initial folder structure. It's your choice.
f) Now, the cleaning work can begin. It's rather an 'enriching', 'improving' process. The strength of a catalog is to be able to add keywords, captions, to group files in stacks, version sets or albums, not to move subfolders, not to rename files. You start with the information usually available in the subfolder names and create albums. You use the advanced tools to help you tag your pictures by people, locations and automatic object tagging. Have a look at all the videos available in the online help.
And don't hesitate to ask here!
This went a long way to answer my questions about Organizer. I gather that the photos are not copied into the catalog, rather that the catalog just knows the location, correct?
Since I have paired JPG and RAW photos with the same camera ID number, how can this be handled to retain the pairing?
Since the Organizer assigns numbers to the photos as they are entered, in my case from a hugh HD collection, does it make sense to begin with the oldest first to have some similiarity between sequence number and age of the photo?
Thanks for the help.
teohjs, I'm sorry but your post got buried and does not appear to have been answered. (Unfortunately, this happens a lot with the new forum software that Adobe is using.)
Perhaps you have already answered your own question, but in case you need some further information, let me try to give some more information.
It really doesn't matter how you import all of your photos into the Organizer catalog. (It is probably best to use the Bulk Import option.) You can sort them all by date. If you are taking jpg/raw images with your camera, they will appear in the catalog next to each other. But, for the future, if you import new files from your camera via the Adobe Photo Downloader, there is an option to stack jpg/raw photo so you only see one thumbnail for each click of the shutter. There is currently no option to say which format goes on top. So, you will likely end up with all jpgs on top or all raw files on top of each stack.
Let us know if you have any further questions. It will be best to start a new thread if you do.
Wow, Greg and Michael great answers! Thank you very much.