Organization, Photography

Phone photo organization

Do you have thousands of photos on your phone and computer like me? Let’s get them organized and clear up some memory space!

I didn’t think much of this little habit of mine until it went viral on TikTok and Pinterest with over 13 million views. Who knew people were so fascinated with family year books!

The main concern they had was that I don’t back up my photos, which I do. In several places. And stated in the video. But the amount of people who were concerned about our house catching on fire and losing everything was alarming. And the people saying their photo album would be full of memes because that’s all that’s on their phone cracked me up! Anyway, here’s the video and they I’ll walk you through the process in more detail if you’d like to try.

Here’s the short video:

@housemixblog Photo organizing! #learnontiktok #organization #officeorganization #organize #photobook ♬ Memories (Drinks Bring Back) – Ajay Stephens

This is the system I came up with years ago that still works:

1. Gather all your photos on your desktop.

First, I upload all my photos from my camera and my phone to my computer. I have a mac, so I use the Photos app.

2. Select only your favorites.

Once all the photos are together, I go through all of them and favorite the best ones. You’ve got to be pretty ruthless here and not save like photos. Only the favorites. Then I do any color correcting that needs done. This usually ends up being between 350 and 500 photos.

3. Save favorites to a few places.

Next, I drag everything from my favorites folder to an external hard drive labeled with the year.

I also save them to a couple cloud systems like Google, Amazon or Flickr. Right now I’m using Google and Flickr, but there are many options.

Now this can be time consuming, especially if you’re just starting and have years and years of photos to go through. Start small, a little at a time, and you’ll get there. Trust me, it’s worth it! Then once you start doing it a couple times a year it’s much more manageable.

4. Make a yearly photo album.

Yearly family photo books - Phone photo organization
Yearly family photo books - Phone photo organization

Next I start on the yearly photo album. I started making one photo book each year when Marcello and I got married. And well, now we’ve been married 15 years so we have quite a few! I’m going through all our summer photos today so I’ll show you my process. I do this occasionally throughout the year, but my main photo sweep is in January when the new year has started.

I use Shutterfly to make the books. This is not sponsored and there are many companies to choose from, but I’ve used them for 5 years so it works for me!

You can see how to design the books here:

This time I’m doing a mid-year clean up, but I usually do most of this every January.

In mid August and in mid January Shutterfly usually has an unlimited pages sale. This is definitely the best price to get because I use all 100 allowed pages! It cuts the cost by probably a third. And these aren’t cheap. Even with the sale, they cost between $50-100, depending on options, cover choices, ect.

Actually it’s good that I post this now to give you time to put things together for the January sale! These are truly some of my most prized possessions. In fact the whole family loves to look at them.

I also did larger formats for their first year. It’s more dramatic and sizable for this special time. If you’d like more baby book ideas, check out 16 Baby Book Ideas.

Oh, one more idea: I ask them the same set of questions every year. It’s so cute to see how they change! When they turn 18 I”d love to make a book with the whole set! I have the simple Word template on my blog if you want to download it. You can start at any age!

5. Delete photos off phone and computer!

Ok now that the photos are backed up three places and on Shutterfly, I delete them off my phone and computer! I know, it’s scary. But it feels great to have a clean slate and more memory freed up on your devices. Keep in mind that they are protected on 2 sites, Shutterfly AND printed off into a book.

If you are concerned about accessing photos from your phone, you can download the Google Photos app (or whichever you prefer) and have access to any photo from any year.


The next question is usually what to do with all the movies! I have a plan for that too.

Here is the most important piece of videoing information I learned after making an epic trilogy of Luca’s first year: If you make the video long, no one will want to sit through it!

So, this is what I do now:

Don’t record everything.
And don’t record for long periods of time.

The key is to film short little bits of life. I try to hold myself to a minute or less. Yes, when your baby is learning to crawl for the first time, it is fascinating to you, but the fam probably won’t want to sit around and watch 15 minutes of junior flopping on his cute little belly in eight years. Try for 60 seconds or less. Some of my clips are only 7 seconds long and still get the point across. If you record short little snippets like this, by the years end you won’t have the monumental task of editing and compiling.

Here is how I organize my videos:

1. Fit a year’s worth of video clips into one hour-long movie.

I gather all my video snippets from my phone and camera and compile them together in iMovie. I try to whittle them down to one hour because it’s short enough that we’ll want to watch it together as a family. And then I export it as one 60-minute Quicktime video.

2. Back it up

I back up my movie, labeled with the year, to my external hard drive and upload as a private movie to YouTube so only we can see it. My goal this year is to also transfer them to a USB stick and put it with our important documents.

3. Delete videos from phone and desktop.

Again, now that you’ve backed up your home movies, it’s time to press the delete button and clear your hard drive. I’m always surprised how much faster my computer responds after it’s not overwhelmed with tons of video.

Now that I have my little routine down, all of this takes me about three hours. We usually watch the year video on New Year’s Day as a family. And then it turns into a binge session, with their hilarious toddler years as the main request.

If this process overwhelms you because you have too many years of photos and videos on your hands, just start with this year.

If you already have your own process, please share. I’d love to hear your tips!

1 thought on “Phone photo organization

  1. This is pretty impressive I would like to share some information about my phone storage because I have a 32 gb memory phone where you can only store a little amount of photos and videos but this blog post will help me to clear it rightly.

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