Organizing Supplies: To Tag or Not to Tag

This is the second article in Melissa’s series on organizing in Photoshop Elements. You can find her first post here.

The first reaction many scrapppers have to the thought of organizing their supplies is:

I could never sit there and tag all those thousands of files – I’ve got better things to do.

I agree! If I’m scrapping, I don’t want to be spending time tagging. But I don’t want to spend time hunting through messy folders either.

Leave tagging behind

Using the Photoshop Elements Organizer doesn’t mean you have to tag every item in your stash for it to be useful.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and Organizer works with a wide variety of organizing styles.

Tag simply, to start with. You can always add more tags, but if you start trying to tag with too many details you’ll find yourself wading through an endless list of keywords with only a few items under each one.

A note about tags: In the PSE 11 Organizer the keywords, categories and subcategories you create are all contained in the Tags/Info panel in the Media ‘room’.
The basic structure is:

  • Keyword (top level)

    • Category 1 (Second level)
      • Sub-Category (third level)
    • Category 2 (Second level)

You can drag and drop your tags around the structure.

Leave folder organizing behind

import from computerOne benefit of a catalogue system is that all you need to do with your supplies is unzip them and tell Organizer to import them.

You can do that in one of four ways:

  • Using watched folders to automatically import new supplies (Windows only)
  • Dragging the new supplies onto the Organizer window (Mac or PC)
  • Going to File – Import – From Files and Folders (Mac or PC)
  • Clicking on the Import button (Mac or PC PSE11+)

Organizer does not require anything more complex that that. All the rest of the organizing is done within the program.

Now, I’d be lying if I said I just dump all my zips into one big folder and run Unzip Them All, but if you don’t care how the folders look, why not try it!

What do I do next?

There are many different ways you can organize supplies, so before you get started, take a look a how some of our favourite scrappers organize and see which one appeals to you.

I’ve included instructions for how to get started with these methods along with downloadable tags to jump start the organizing process.

Let’s start with Steph….

The Steph: Previews

Steph likes automation and doesn’t want to spend all her time tagging. If you are a ‘kit-scrapper’ and you like the ease of scrapping with pre-coordinated kits, you will love this method of organizing.

Using PSE Organizer to tag your previews can be simple.

Go to the Find menu, then click By Details and Metadata…

Enter in the following Search Criteria (click to see a larger image):


Be sure to select All of the Selection Criteria (AND)

  • Filename Ends with .jpg
  • Pixel Width Is between 400 and 800
  • Select Save this Search Criteria in a Saved search.
  • Name: Previews

Since most previews are smaller sized jpg files, we have found them all in one fell swoop.

If you just want to browse through your previews easily, then you are done!

Any time you want to quickly look through your previews, click the magnifying glass in the search box, select Saved Searches and then click on ‘Previews’.

If you have PSE10 or earlier, just go to your albums pane and click the album named Previews.


Want to get more specific?

Steph also adds some theme keywords to her previews. I’ll show you how to do that as we look at other organizing styles below.

If you think you’ll want more than just pulling up a nice collage of previews (newest to oldest by default), you may want to apply a preview tag to your previews.

  1. Select all the files that came up from the search (To select all, press Ctrl+A/Cmd+A on a Mac)
  2. Create a new keyword for Previews by pressing the green plus but on the top right of and name it “Previews”
  3. Then drag the “Previews” tag to the selected elements


Now, when you click on the “Previews” tag arrow on the right, you can see all your previews.

To find the related kit

Once you have the preview you want to use selected, click on the Information tab in PSE11 (or go to Window – Properties in PS10 or earlier) and click on the File Location. Voilà, your folder opens with the kit contents inside.


Easy isn’t it?

The Katie: Themes & Faves


Katie described her folder system in the popular Digital Scrapbook Organization – 3 ways article.

I like how she used numbers to keep everything in order. Her holiday themed items go in order by month number followed by numbered sections for types of supplies. If this idea intrigues you be sure to read more here.

I’ve included a tag file for you with Katie’s folder list, in case you’d like to replicate it.

Download ‘The Katie’ Template tag system to get started

Download just Katie’s annual themes (1-12) here

You can tag your kits by theme quickly by just dragging tags onto the previews, and maybe a few of the more specific theme-y embellishments and word art (think Christmas baubles or four leaf clovers).

Keep it manageable by not over-tagging, remember you can easily find the kit the preview relates to by using the File Location link.

How to import tags


You can import these keyword lists by clicking on the green + button in the Keywords Panel and then Import Keyword Tags from File.

template-organizationTemplate by number of photos

Katie inspired me to begin tagging my templates by number of photos.

First, find Templates by searching for:

  1. Go to Find and click on By Details Metadata…
  2. Select File name ends with psd
  3. Scroll through your templates and drag over tags for the number of photo spots on the template.

I have been using this system for years and love it!

Download ‘The Katie’ Template tag system to get started

Setting up a favourites folder


Katie also keeps a favourites folder of her go to supplies to make scrapping quick and easy.

You could simply:

  1. Create a new album for your faves
  2. Add items to the album by dragging them onto the album
  3. To see all your favourites, just double click on the album

The Ali: Find your type

Ali Edwards keeps her organizing simple and files supplies by type – all papers together, all frames together, all metal items together etc.

Though I don’t recommend breaking up kits in this way in a folder structure (it’s time consuming if you have a big stash), you can use keyword tags to keep it simple.

Here’s a couple of example searches that would help you get started with Ali’s method.


  1. Find By Details and Metadata… be sure to select an All of the Selection Criteria (AND)
    • Pixel width 3600
    • File name ends with jpg
  2. Tag by colour or pattern
  3. Ctrl+Click (Cmd+Click on the Mac) to select multiple papers at once
  4. Drag the paper tag (or colour tag, or pattern tag) onto the items

It has now found every single paper I have in my digital scrapbooking files (no, I’m not going to tell you how many that is!)


  1. Find By Details and Metadata… be sure to select an All of the Selection Criteria (AND)
    • File name contains flower (or button or ribbon etc)
    • File name ends with png
  2. Ctrl+Click (Cmd+Click on the Mac) to select multiple embellishments at once
  3. Drag the flower tag onto the items

Download ‘The Ali’ tag system to get started

The Stacy: Scrap by Colour

Stacy Julian loves colour! If you do too, you may like to organize by colour.

In Photoshop Elements (and Picasa too) you can search by colour.

To start with, find one item in the colour you are looking for

Then do a visual similarity search:

  1. Click Find, By Visual Searches, Visually similar photos and videos
  2. Click Ok, Start indexing if prompted (and got have a cup of tea if you have a big collection)
  3. Drag the slider over to colour
  4. Your results will appear


If you want to tag items by colour, set up keyword for each colour (or download my samples!) and drag the items over onto the tag for each colour.

To find your pink papers, just click on the arrow to the far right of the Pink tag in the tags panel.


Real life example: I tag only my papers by colour, I will look for a paper, find one I like then click on ‘Show in Windows Explorer’ to see the rest of the kit. Then I usually just scrap with that kit.

Download ‘The Stacy’ colour tag system here

The Peppermint: Categorize it All

If you are like Peppermint Granberg, Debbie Hodge, Kayla Lameroux or me, you’d love to be able to pin point your supplies with accuracy and speed.

Using a combination of all of the above methods, you can tag to your heart’s content and find all your Easter word art with two clicks of a mouse.


  1. Click on the arrow to the right of Easter
  2. Click on the arrow to the right of Word Art
  3. DONE!

If you are willing to use a bit more time, and some advanced searching and photo stacking, you can make your Organizer run like a super efficient supply discovery machine.

My most popular video ever shows more details of how I quickly find a variety of supplies.

Let’s take a look at how I would search for all my alphas, and make it easy to browse through them all.


  1. Find By Details and Metadata… be sure to select an All of the Selection Criteria (AND)
  2. Add the search criteria
    • File name ends with png
    • File name includes alpha, lower or upper
  3. Tag, then stack your alphas to have less clutter! Go to Edit – Stack – Stack Selected Photos (or right click and then Stack Selected Photos)stack-alphas
  4. To see individual letters and use them, simply click on the arrow next to the top image in the stack

Now that is beautiful!

Download a starter set of the keyword tags for ‘The Peppermint’

Help! I don’t know where to start!

Not sure what system will work for you?

I suggest you download the Peppermint Starter tags. They are a simplified place to start and you can just add more tags if and when you need them.

If you don’t want to use a tag you can just right click on it and delete it (it won’t delete any tagged images) or ignore it.

Keep it Up

As with any system keeping up is the key. That’s why I encourage you to start simple with a watched folder and a saved search for previews.

Just having your supplies in Organizer makes it simple to find them.

You can always do a quick text search of the file names (Find menu – By Filename…) even if you aren’t doing any tagging and search easily for designers by the name they use to prefix their files (eg Flergs, CSchneider, KRL).

If you want to tag, you can work on it whenever you have few minutes spare on the computer. Watching TV with your laptop alongside you? You can find untagged items by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Q (Cmd+Shift+Q on a Mac) and tag away.


Though I talked about backing up in Effortless Organizing in Photoshop Elements – here’s a little reminder.

Photoshop Elements prompts you to backup your catalogue – I suggest backing up to an External Hard Disk, if you have one.

I keep all my supplies on my main (internal) Hard Disk as I find it gives me faster access to the supplies and internal hard disks are much less likely to crash or die on you.

If you keep your supplies on an external drive, you can still use this method to back up to a second hard drive or burn DVDs of your supplies.

Go to File – Backup to CD, DVD or Hard Drive to start the backup process.

What about you?

Are you a Steph, Katie, Ali or Stacy? Or maybe a Peppermint? I’d love to hear your take on these organizing ideas in the comments. Where’s your organizing sweet spot?

Melissa_Shanhun_2013About the Author

Melissa helps scrapbookers cut the overwhelm of photos and supplies through simple and painless organizing strategies. Learn more about effortless organizing at Digital Scrapbooking HQ

Get Organized: Supplies will teach you the quick and easy way to get your supplies under control. Inside Get Organized: Supplies there’s a worksheet to help you decide what organizing system will work for you and I’ll walk you through the process step by step. Tame that shopping addiction and use all the beautiful products you’ve purchased with Get Organized: Supplies.

Get Organized: Supplies