Using Smart Albums in iPhoto to Keep Track of Your Best Photos

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to change up the way you do things, especially when it comes to organizing your digital photos. It’s a time to keep doing what works and ditch what doesn’t. What works for me is organizing pictures by event and adding the year, month and day they were taken to the title of each folder. If I have two events in one day (like a program at school during the day  and a birthday party that night), I place them in separate folders and include “01” after the date of the first and “02” after the date of the second activity to make sure that the folders show up in the proper order (see example below).

Photos Organized by Year and Event

What also works is periodically backing up these folders to DVDs that I give to Bill to take to work. This ensures that, in the event of a fire, our pictures are not lost forever.

What hasn’t been working is having to search through every folder at the end of the year to find the pictures that I would like to include in our annual Christmas Card and end of year slideshow. In search of a solution that would make the most of software I already have, I read up on how to use iPhoto Smart Albums and created one called 2013 Best Photos. I then added parameters so the album only contains pictures from 2013 events that I gave a 5-star rating (see article titled How To Create Essential Smart Albums for Your iPhoto Library at

To test my new process, I imported a photo from our camera and gave it a five-star rating. The picture appeared in the new smart album and my photo-taking year is off to a great start, proving that Continuous Process Improvement is not just for companies: It’s for anyone who is up for the challenge of putting every system to the test until the good is better and the better is best!

Putting Every System To The Test

A friend just e-mailed me to say that her family is staying in a hotel while new hardwood floors are being installed in their home. I remember the first time we moved into a house with wood floors. I had no idea how to take care of them. What I did know was that I had an obligation to find out. Jesus made this clear in Luke 12:48 when he said: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” 

After making a call to the business that installed our flooring, I purchased a Bona Hardwood Floor Care System and have been using this company’s products ever since. What I like most about Bona is that they haven’t rested on their laurels. When the company created a floor mop with a refillable cleaner cartridge, I wanted to tell every mom I knew to ask for it for Mother’s Day. (I’m that passionate about progress.)

To pass some of  my enthusiasm along to you, I close with one of my favorite (and perhaps my only) process improvement rhymes:

Put every system to the test until your good is better and your better is best.

Use Equals Storage

I believe that use should equal storage. And when you keep something in an unhandy spot, it decreases the chances that it will be utilized. To prove my point (without knowing that we were doing it), my husband and I decided that the logical place to put our mini refrigerator when we moved to Illinois was on my side of the garage. That’s where it stayed, unused and unplugged, for four years because there wasn’t enough room to open the refrigerator door when my van was parked in front of it.

Once in a while (and to Bill’s dismay), I ran into the refrigerator when pulling into the garage. The dents caused by my front license plate proved that my vehicle was in far enough to shut the garage door. They also made the appliance too unattractive to bring indoors for a holiday party that we were hosting in our home.

“We can’t use it like that,” Bills said after examining my handiwork.

“I’ll buy something to cover the front,” I assured him.

The next day, I perused the aisles of Home Depot until I found a plastic kitchen backsplash that Bill could cut to fit the door.

The refrigerator looked so good when he was finished that we decided to move it to the pantry after the party was over. Ever since then, it’s been used on a daily basis. And whenever one of us reaches for a drink, I receive a refreshing reminder that if we’re not using something as much as we ought, it helps to put it in a more useful spot.