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Is there a program or what is the best way to organize graphics and your artwork? Right now everything is saved on my desktop and I need to get a server I think but not sure what is the best way to go. I will be designing a lot of different things and need to know where to save my stuff and downloading graphics is also going to bog down my computer so any help on how to save and organize my things would be helpful.

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    Most people use a system of folder naming conventions.
    – DA01
    May 15, 2014 at 2:52

2 Answers 2

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It's hard to know where to start, because I don't know your level of computer knowledge, which platform you work with or what tools you're using to design with, but here are some basics:

The main thing is to start categorizing things. Assets, Clients and Projects are separate categories that each subdivide into subcategories. Keep like things with like, and separate them from things that are different.

  • Learn how to use folders. Every operating system uses folders (also called "directories") to group files together. Just as you would file physical documents in a folder and put them in a filing cabinet, folders on the computer reduce the clutter and prevent you from losing things. One difference is that on a computer it's easy and usual to put folders inside other folders.

  • Separate assets (stock photography, graphic elements that are general in nature) from projects.

  • Divide your assets into separate folders according to what they are. Stock photos should have their own folder. Inside that folder, separate by category or subject (people, scenic, backgrounds, seasonal images, etc.)

  • If you have clients, make a master folder for each client and separate each project for that client into its own folder. Assets that are specific to the client should be in the client folder, and each project for that client is in its own folder within the client folder.

  • Never, ever dump stuff on your desktop except temporarily. You wouldn't do it with your physical desk. Don't do it on your computer desktop.

  • If you use any of the Adobe applications, you have an asset manager and hub called "Bridge" that has many features designed to make finding and organizing assets easier. Learn how to use it. Take a look at this question and its answers for more on that subject.

If your workload grows past a certain point, you might need a Digital Asset Manager (DAM), but you're not there yet. Start simple, and grow from there.

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  • Also most operating systems have a search feature be sure to name things properly, tag them and add proper metadata to the items themselves. thisway you can end up having images in many categories at once. So seasonal, scenic and wide image no problen. +1 for the desktop thing.
    – joojaa
    May 15, 2014 at 5:03
  • Thank you for your help! I will be cleaning up my desktop and working with Adobe Bridge!
    – Nicki
    Nov 18, 2014 at 2:52
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Adding to Alan's very thorough answer, an important part of keeping your material organized is making sure your files are safe and sound. Reinforce the habit of making regular back-ups.

I also find it essential to be able to access my material from different devices, so I keep the most important ones online. I personally use DropBox for large files and Google Drive for documents, but there are many options available.

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