Organize photos from the command line -- yeah, really

Keeping your digital photo collection in order usually requires a great deal of self-discipline and effort. Or, failing that, a heavy-duty image organiser.

If you’re distinctly lacking in all these areas, though, you could just turn to PhotosTree, a tiny (17KB) command-line tool which quickly arranges your JPEGs according to the date they were taken.

At a minimum, all you have to do is specify the source and destination folders, and the program will scan your JPEGs for a tag saying when they were taken. If this is found, then it’ll create a matching folder – for an image taken on 21st June 2005, say, the program might create the folder 2005\06\21 – and then finally it’ll copy the file there.

This is simple enough, and mostly worked well for us. But if you want something different, there are command line parameters which may help.

You can tell the program to scan a folder tree, for instance, or to use a custom folder naming style. And there’s even an option (for NTFS drives) to use hard links rather than copy the files, which will help you save drive space (the files remain in their original locations, and the folders just contain pointers to them). Just type PhotosTree.exe with no parameters at a command line for the full list of options.

We did find one or two issues with the program, particularly relating to error handling. You’ll need to run it from an elevated command window (click Start, type CMD, right-click CMD.exe and select Run as administrator), for instance, but if you don’t, there’s no helpful message to prompt you. Instead it simply crashes with some very cryptic error messages.

It’s probably unwise to expect completeness from any 17KB application, though, and if you’re generally happy with using command line tools then PhotosTree could prove very useful. As usual you’ll have a brief process of trial and error while you’re exploring its capabilities, but once you’ve figured out the basics the program provides a simple and straightforward way to organise all your photos by date.

Photo Credit: Liv friis-larsen/Shutterstock

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