Digital Scrapbook Organization – 3 ways

I (Katie) have been a digital scrapbooker for almost 5 years now and I quickly learned once I started collecting supplies on my computer that I would need to have a good organization system in place. I tried several different methods before I settled on a folder based approach back in 2007.

I love the system that I use, but I also realize that there are many other ways to effectively organize digital scrapbook supplies so I thought it would be fun to show you 3 different ways to organize so you can find the approach that works best for you!


I’m a very visual person, so for me it is nice to have folders set up with preview images. When I open each folder I can quickly glance at what I have stored inside without having to open each individual sub-folder. I store my entire system on an external hard drive to keep my laptop working at top speed. When I’m working on a project (such as all the digi files for the month) I make a copy of that file for my laptop and work from that copy so I don’t have to always have my EHD with me.

My system is probably most useful for the digital scrapbooker that has a BIG collection of supplies from a wide variety of sources. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I have more than 142 GB of digital scrapbooking goodies (not photos or anything else) stored on my EHD – and that’s after I cleaned off tons of older files I wasn’t using! I may or may not have a bit of an addiction. lol! 🙂


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Here’s a list of my folder categories:

The numbers in front of each file are to keep them in a certain order since windows likes to organize the folders in numerical and alphabetical order automatically. I wanted the first folders to be related to the months of the year (holidays) so I numbered them that way. I decided to put Birthdays at the beginning of the year.

  • 1 Birthday
  • 1 Winter
  • 2 Valentines and Hearts
  • 3 St. Pats
  • 4 Easter (even though sometimes Easter is in the 3rd month)
  • 6 Summer and Beach (June is the first month of summer)
  • 6 Travel and Camping (This just seemed to fit next to the summer and beach file)
  • 7 Independence Day
  • 8 School/Art/Music (August is back to school month for us)
  • 9 Fall
  • 10 Halloween
  • 11 Thanksgiving
  • 12 Xmas

Next I have files of individual elements. I put a 13 in front of all of these so they stay in alphabetical order based on subject; alphas, buttons, frames, etc. So continuing on with my list of files:

  • 13 alphabets/numbers/dates
  • 13 buttons and brads
  • 13 flowers
  • 13 frames
  • 13 journaling/quotes/tags
  • 13 misc. elements (the ones that just don’t fit anywhere else)
  • 13 overlays and masks
  • 13 ribbons/trims and bows
  • 13 shapes and borders
  • 13 staples and fasteners
  • 13 stitches

My paper and kit files all have a 14 in front of them to keep them nicely in place behind the element files.

  • 14 misc. kits – (for all the kits that didn’t fit into other categories and yes, it’s a big file, but that’s ok!)
  • 14 paper prints and packs
  • 14 paper solids

And a few more misc. categories

  • 15 templates more on this file below *
  • 16 albums, calendars, and quick pages
  • 17 actions (even after you load them, it’s helpful to have a place for the instructions)
  • 18 CU (commercial use stuff from my designing days)
  • 19 TDD – The Daily Digi I keep all the past Digi Files in here rather than separate them out. They could also be filed under 14 Misc. Kits, but I like quick access to TDD stuff since I’m part of the team here.

*A further explanation of my template folder:

This is probably the area that took me the longest to organize but it is the one that has had the biggest payoff for me! If you read my Power Scrapping Secrets article you will see how having templates sorted by number of pictures they hold can save you oodles of time. I will give you a peek into my template folder so you can see what I’m talking about.

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I have filed all of my templates by the amount of photos they are designed for. I realize that some templates might fit in more than one file depending on how you use them but I just tried to stay basic with my filing system. No need to over-think this and you can easily browse through a few folders in just minutes. I can’t tell you how useful this system has been. Even if you think the rest of my digi organization is bunk, I bet you will find this part useful.

These folders are not pretty when organized this way, but they are very functional! When I go to create a page that needs to have 3 photos on it, I just open up that folder and start browsing. Even if I don’t use a template, it at least gets my creativity working.


I don’t use subfolders here and all I keep is the preview of the template and the actual template file right next to. Sometimes I have to rename them to get them to stay next to each other in the file. Every once in a while I have to make a jpeg image so I have a preview of the template so if you are a template designer – PLEASE include a preview of each template! My very favorite templates are in TIFF format because you only need that one file to serve as a preview and the actual template. This really isn’t as complicated as it sounds – basically, I just like to see what each template looks like at one glance through the folder it relates to.

If you are interested in how I organize my digital photos you might want to check out this blog post.

As I download digital scrapbooking goodies, I unzip them to be sure I have everything included in the purchase (a good idea in case you need to contact the store because of a mistake). Then I leave all my downloaded kits in that same folder for about a week, or until I have a little bit of time to file them in the right folders. When I have some time I just move them all the appropriate places. It doesn’t take long and it’s a task I can do while I’m talking on the phone or even watching television.


In Ali Edwards’ Scrapbooking With Your Computer series she shared her own organizing system that is also folder-based. (She also has some step by step instructions on how to download and unzip files and even has something fun for you to download!) I asked Ali if I could show you her system here and she was happy to share it with all of us. 🙂

Ali uses a MAC and her folder system is not too different than my own, but she displays hers in a list format instead of a folder view. She also keeps her folder system on an External Hard Drive and backs it up to another drive as well.

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Here’s the list of her folder categories:

Brads, Etc
Embellishments (includes subfolders: Butterflies, Circles, Clocks/Time, Dates, Element Combination Packs, Hearts, Metals (no words), Ribbons/Strips, Stars, Tags, Words)
Journal Templates
Layered Templates
Negative Sleeves
Photo or Frame Clusters

For a full explanation of her system, be sure to read her blog post because she does a great job of keeping it simple and to the point.

Ali is still fairly new to digital scrapbooking and probably doesn’t scrap with such a wide variety of designers like I do, so her more simplified approach is probably more than adequate for her needs. Her system is best suited for someone with a smaller stash or one who prefers a minimalist approach.


I (Steph) tried many different approaches to organizing until I found one that worked for me. I tried similar systems to both Katie’s and Ali’s, but they didn’t work for me. I think that’s one important things to know, not every system works for everyone! You may need to try a few different things until you find one that works for you.

One thing I realized early on, was that when I wanted a certain product, I could often remember WHO designed it (that’s why putting my kits in files by theme didn’t work for me, nor did breaking up the kits by product type). I also found that I usually always start a layout with photos and/or a story THEN come the supplies. When I start adding supplies to a layout, I am usually looking for certain colors that will coordinate with the photos that I am about to scrap. Those things are what helped me figure out a way to organize that works well for me.

I keep everything (scrap supplies or not) on an EHD. On my EHD I have different folders for: Actions, Fonts, Styles, commercial use, and Scrabook Downloads. My Scrapbook Downloads folder is where pretty much everything goes (all kits, papers, elements, etc.). Inside that folder, I have folders by designer name, because when I am looking for a specific product, that is what usually comes to mind first…the person that created it (there have been a few instances when I put things in a store folder, but that was before I started my “New Downloads” folder…more on that in a minute). Here’s what that looks like (this is not my entire collection….shhhhh don’t tell):


Anything I buy that is created by that designer goes in their folder with their name on it. If it is a collab., then I usually just pick one designer’s folder to throw it in.

When I download new products, they go into my “New Downloads” folder. Once everything is downloaded, I use UnZipThemAll to unzip all of the zips at once. Then, I keep the products in there until I have time to go through my steps of organization. Here’s what that folder looks like right now:



When I am ready to download, I simply go into each folder, right click on the preview, copy it and then go to my {Digital Supplies Previews} folder and past them there (this is why I love designers that include BOTH a FOLDER preview AND a preview with their name and the kit name on it). I also copy all of these kits to my network drive, so I know they are there as well (two in house copies and an online back up as well).

This is easiest to do if you have TWO windows open, one in the New Downloads Folder and one in the Preview folder. You can see from the above image that I also have a {Hawaiian Theme} folder. I have a Hawaii vacation album that I have been working on FOREVER, so I also put previews that are tropical related OR have colors I know I can use, in that folder. This is what part of my {Hawaiian Theme} folder looks like:


Here you can see part of my other previews folder:


This makes it really easy to just scroll through my previews looking for the colors that will work with my photos! It also makes it easier to SEE what I have! When I find what I want to use, the designer and kit name are included in the preview (sometimes I do have to rename after pasting).

There are many different organizing options, the trick is to find what works for you, your personality, and your scrapping style.


It might surprise some of you to see that all 3 digital scrapbooking systems I’ve shown you here don’t involve any tagging. When Steph and I were discussing this in preparation for today’s post, we both made the comment that we would just rather spend the time it would take to tag our supplies for other things like scrapping. I believe that tagging photos is worthwhile (so you can find pictures of a certain family member), but for me it just isn’t worth the time investment to worry about it for my supplies.

My own collection of digital supplies is probably one of the biggest out there (not to brag lol 🙂 it’s just that I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’m a HUGE junkie!) and I honestly don’t spend more than a few minutes looking through my stash before I find what I was looking for – or something even better. My files are organized and I can easily see what I have to work with. (See Steph’s P.S. below)

Finally, I want to emphasize that there is no “right’ or “wrong” way to organize your supplies. Spend some time thinking what your digital scrapbooking process is and what kind of workflow you prefer. It’s important to set up a system that is easy to maintain so you don’t have to spend all your creative time filing supplies. The goal is to find what you are looking and get to the fun part of creating!


P.S. It’s Steph again and I just wanted to add a note that I had a conference call with the folks at ACDSee yesterday and they assure me that tagging doesn’t take that long (I remain a little skeptical though). I bought and downloaded their software and you can rest assured that IF it is fast and works well for organization, you will hear about it from me. Honestly, having my digi supplies all organized and tagged in a program like ACDSee is a dream, but I don’t want to spend a lot of time doing it. I will keep you posted!

We would love you to share your method of organizing that works best for you!