Here are some tips to help you keep your digital scrapbooking files organized. First let me say that just as everyone has a creative style, I think too that we each have on organizational style. So what works for one, may not work for everyone. Feel free to modify these tips to make them fit your style. Your organization needs to be comfortable for you to work with.
Establish Some Structure
Let's start by setting up a structure. Think about the hierarchy that you like to use when you organize. Do you sort by color? By style? By purpose/function? I prefer to keep all my digi stuff under one main folder and then broken down by Store/Company and then Designer with a few exceptions. The exceptions are for specific functions (I'll get to them in a bit). Under each designer or company, I then create a folder for each kit. I like this method so that when I'm working with a particular kit, I know I have all the coordinating papers and embellies together. It also makes it easier for me to reference the designer and their products that I have used when I am posting or sharing a project. My folder structure would look like this:
There are some items that just work better for me to be organized by their function. This is why I have "exceptions". I have folders labeled: Alphas, Brushes, Quick Pages, Stitches, Templates, WordArt. I use these to store digi stash that does not belong to a kit and is used only for a certain purpose. You may find that you have other items that work best this way like collaboration kits, especially when the contributing designers are from different stores. BTW - Quick pages are ones that a designer has made that are nearly complete and just require you to add your photo, while templates are designs or layered templates such as the templates you can download here at Ideas For Scrapbookers.
You may want to set up your main structure just by designer name (not store). You can also use the "tags" in your photo editing software to help you locate items in your digi stash more easily. For instance, if you are using Photoshop Elements (PSE) or Picasa, you can set up tags for themes, styles or element items you might regular want to access. Things such as "frames", "flowers", "teens", "buttons", "wedding" and colors. I use the organizer in PSE and have a separate catalog for my Digi supplies with tags to help me search for items. While you'll need to spend some time in the setup, this can help you get right to a kit that will work perfectly for the project you have in mind.
When you download digital kits to your computer, you get the files for the paper, alpha, embellies and elements along with some other files that may clog up your drive. You don't need to hang on to all of them. Here's my suggestions:
Previews: Often kits will contain a preview folder with each download for a kit. Since these are duplicates taking up valuable drive space, keep one and delete the others.
Ads and Inserts: Some designers will include advertisements, and coupons in with the download. Be sure to review them, use them if you care to. Then purge them when you are done. These could include things such as coupons or links to their shops, blinkies, links to their blog, and other thank yous.
Other files: You may also get some files when you download that are not necessary. Such as thumbs.db files and MAC OS X files. These have to do with how the files were created on the originators computer. They are not necessary and you can delete them.
No Piracy: If you've been collecting digi scrap supplies, I know you've come across one of these. It has a very important message! Do not share, do not redistribute, do not claim as your own, do not re-sell. Heed the message! But only keep one copy of this and delete the rest.
You may want to take all of your kit previews and store them in one folder on your computer. Especially if you don't have a system to assign tags to files. This folder could act as a big catalog of what items you have to work with. You could browse through it to find the kit that will work best with your photos and then be able to locate that kit because you took the time to get organized!
Now with these simple tips in mind, you should be able to tackle getting your stash organized and free up some space on your computer! Remember to apply these guidelines each time you acquire new digital scrapbook supplies. You've got a great jump on your Spring cleaning! So take some time to relax!