Organization ACDSee Style

You might remember the post we did awhile back about organizing without tagging. We received a lot of comments, emails, and even posts in our CT forum from people that really like using ACDSee. One of those emails was from Aaron, a.k.a. Sir ScrapAlot and it wasn’t too long before I realized that an organizing with ACDSee post would be appreciated by our readers. I love how Aaron uses ACDSee and thought it would be great for him to share what he knows!

I also talked in that post about my conference call with ACDSee and how I had purchased the software to give it a try (I did not accept their offer of a free copy, because….as you know…that’s not how we do things ‘round here). At the bottom of Aaron’s post, I will add my experience with the program and thoughts.

SirScrapalot_picture Aaron Morris has been digital scrapbooking for almost three years. His work has been published in Scrapbooking Trends magazine. For two years now, Aaron has been the creative and designing force behind Sir Scrapalot Designs. Sir Scrapalot Designs products are currently available exclusively at Polka Dot Plum. Aaron also blogs about nearly everything at the Sir Scrapalot Designs blog. Aaron is a dad to two daughters and has been married for eight years. During the day, Aaron is a seventh grade math teacher to a class that he has worked with for the last four years. In his spare time, Aaron likes to watch reality tv and listen to music. You can follow Aaron on Twitter at

If you’re anything like me, you have tons of digi goodies stashed away. I can never seem to resist a good sale, or picking up the latest products. It’s a habit. In fact, it’s a habit that has led me to over 100GB of digi goodies. If I had no way to organize them, I would be out of my mind and would never be able to find anything to get my layouts done!

Luckily, a few years back, I got ACDSee Photo Manager. I knew I needed something to help me organize what I had, and ACDSee fit the bill. ACDSee works simply: photos/files stay in their original folder, however, you can add “tags” to each file, and use these tags to organize your files. So say I want to see all my pictures of Uncle Bill, I would click on my “Uncle Bill” tab, and all the pictures that I have tagged as “Uncle Bill” would pop up. What’s also great about ACDSee has an extensive forum and tutorials and tips. So many people use ACDSee to organize their digi supplies, that ACDSee now offers some free downloadable organizational structures for digi scrappers. I figured this would be a great place to start.

I downloaded one of the organizational structures, and read up on what I would need to do to “tag” my collection. The first tagging would entail putting information in for every file – the kit name and the designer name. Then, each file would be tagged separately. For example: all the ribbons would be tagged ribbons, all the buttons would be tagged buttons, etc. This method was VERY time consuming, even breaking it down into small time increments. What was great about this tagging method was that when I was working on a layout, if I needed a piece of kraft paper, I could find it easily by choosing some of the tags I had used. Unfortunately, I am more of a “kit scrapper,” I tend to use the items from one kit. That, paired with the amount of time I would spend tagging, ultimately made this not the best tagging method for me.


Since I am a kit scrapper, I decided that I would start tagging only the previews of the products I purchased, and put them into categories like kits, element packs, alphas, and templates. I started out with six categories: actions, alphas, element packs, kits, paper packs, and templates. This tagging method cut down on time considerably, seeing that I only had to tag one file in the folder. As I started working with this tagging system, I realized that it was a bit broad. I could easily find all of my kits, or element packs, but if I wanted to find a kit by Geek Chic Scraps that I had, I needed to sift through the entire kits category. So, I added categories for each of the designers I purchase from often, as well as a category for products I had yet to use.


When I wanted to use an element pack from Ali Edwards, I could click on my Ali Edwards tag, and the previews of all of the products I have from her would pop up. From that point, I can right click the preview and use the “Go To File” option. That sends me directly to the folder that contained that preview, where I can grab the products I need. There is more about the Go To File option HERE. This has proven to be the most effective method for me and my tagging. My workflow goes like this:

1. All of my files are downloaded into a “To Be Unzipped” folder on my EHD.
2. From there, I extract all the files to a “To Be Tagged” folder. Within that folder I have two categories, “Designer” which is my CU designer stuff (yup, I tag all that too) and “Readymade” which is stuff from other designers.
3. When I am ready to tag (no, I don’t tag as soon as I unzip. I’m a rebel like that), I go into the “To Be Tagged” folder, and click on the “Ready Made” folder. In that are all the folders of the products I have purchased. I click on a number of those folders, even if they aren’t from the same designer. Then at that top of the window I choose “Sort By” and I pick “image type.”that brings all of the jpeg files together, and I can easily assign them tags that way by dragging the tag over to the image.
4. Once the preview is tagged, the folder (and if it’s a kit, all the folders that go with it. I only tag one preview) gets moved to my “PU” folder. That part really stinks….get it…stinks…PU…well anyways, that’s it. My products are tagged and ready to use.

The ACDSee tagging system isn’t just great for organizing your digi supplies, but it can help you scrap more efficiently too! A while back, I was intrigued by a post Katie did here on The Daily Digi about her Power Scrapping method. I knew that I had to try this method. When I got a chance to give it a shot, I loved the way I was able to get pages done really quickly, but I struggled with keeping track of what I wanted to use. In my paper days, I would have slipped the pictures and the papers and everything into a folder and put it away until next time. I could do that on my EHD, creating new folders for each layout and copying files, but that would not only take up more time, but take up precious memory on my EHD. I was about to abandon the Power Scrapping method, and then it came to me: ACDSee!! If I could tag my files with multiple tags, I could tag the things I wanted to use for layouts!!

Now, when I am looking to Power Scrap a few layouts, I start out by making a new tag for each one in ACDSee. I have most recently been using this method for completing our Disney layouts from our trip two years ago. Once I have the tags created, when I get a few minutes, I look through my pictures and identify the ones I want to use, and tag them with the layout tag. Then, I can walk away from the layouts for a bit. When I have a few extra minutes, I can go and look through my templates, and identify the templates I want to use and tag them. When I get a few more minutes, I can search through my kits, and identify the kits I want to use for each layout, and tag the preview of them. That way, when I am ready to sit down and put the layouts together, I can click on the tag that I used for the layout, and all the pictures I want to use for it, along with the template and the preview of the kit all pop up.


I drag the pictures and template into the image basket, which is a section of the ACDSee window where you can put files you intend to open. Then I use the “Go To File” command to go to the kit and start picking papers and elements. As I pick them, they get put into the image basket as well. Once I have everything I want to start the layout with, I select them all using CTRL+A, and drag them all into Photoshop, and they all open. I am ready to start creating!


So that’s about it. I really do use ACDSee for everything, I can’t imagine scrapping or designing without it. Hopefully I’ve been able to give you some ideas to use when you are organizing your own digi goodies. I guess the bottom line is this: anyone can tell you how you should do it, but if it doesn’t work for you, it’s not worth it. Figure out what works for you, and go with it!



I (Steph) have tried a couple different organization systems (the organizer that comes with PSE as well as Adobe Bridge). I found both of them a little klunky and neither really met all of my needs (I won’t go into all of the reasons I didn’t care for them). I really, honestly thought that ACDSee would be the same, plus I did NOT want to spend my precious scrapping time tagging!

I will say, that I am very happy with ACDSee as compared to my prior experience with other programs. The more I got into using it, the more I liked this program for organizing. I started by downloading Janie’s orginizational structure. I knew that I would only be tagging the previews because as I thought about it, if I started tagging each button as a button, then I would also want to tag the color, etc. and that was just too much. I am usually a kit scrapper, except for a few favorite things (like my favorite stitching, staples, Kraft paper, etc.) and those are now tagged as favorites. Out of Janie’s original structure, (btw, if you know who Janie is, let me know, so I can tell her thanks), I knew that the themes, seasons, and holidays would be the most useful for me. I also added some themes of my own (such as Hawaii and Disney for the kits that I knew I would want to use on those vacations). I then added a designers category and started adding designers and tagging the previews with their names as well. In the template category, I added more tags with more numbers, because so many template designers are coming out with awesome templates that have tons of photos on them.

If you have a lot of stuff and the thought of tagging everything is overwhelming, but having your stuff organized and tagged seems like a dream, then just start with the previews and go from there.

If you are NEW to digital, I would highly recommend getting ACDSee and starting with it now 🙂 You will thank yourself later!

An IMPORTANT NOTE::: You MUST backup your database, so if you have a computer or drive die on you, you won’t lose all of your tagging. If you aren’t using an online back up service such as Mozy, You can find step-by-step instructions with screenshots here (it really is easy and they system actually walks you through it, I was able to do it without a tutorial very easily).

Also note: The Daily Digi does not use affiliate marketing, so all links are affiliate-free 🙂