*Note content has been changed to protect the well meaning.

I open the email from a client and there are three photos: ‘IMG_93245’, ‘IMG_3445’, and ‘IMG_4558’

The text in the email “These are photos of Rachel, Pam, and Sheila.”

I appreciate knowing but having never met Rachel, Pam, or Sheila, I don’t know who is who. So I take a stab at it and figure the order they are attached might be a clue; maybe the first person is Rachel, etc.


Here are four reasons (three you actually care about) before you fire off an email to your web developer, social media person, etc. you might want to rename those photo files.

1) It’s less confusing for us. (I swear this is my only self serving reason.)

Here’s the thing, I get a lot of email. And sometimes, I download it onto my computer only to find a stray photo months later and think ‘Oh was this what so-and-so was talking about?’ By naming the photo, it helps me stick it in the right project or simply find it in my email… which brings me to.

2) Renaming your files allows you to find it years later.

Let’s say a year from now, you are redoing your brochure. “Remember that beautiful sunset photo I sent to Nicole? I wonder where that is…”

If you would have called it ‘sunset_near_rental.jpg’ when you initally sent it to me, you’d be able to search your computer for the word ‘sunset’ and likely find it. The generic file name off your camera will not be helpful in this instance.

Now am I saying you should name ALL your files? No way, who has time for that? But if you think it’s nice enough to send to someone like me who shares it on social media or your blog, it might be nice enough to use for some other purpose later.

3) You can see how huge the file is when you rename it.

Usually renaming it will allow you to see how big, or not big, a file is. (Because at least for me, I get to the file info when I rename things.)

I had a client send me a photo she wanted on a slideshow once. It was small but I shrugged, figured she was the customer and always right… so I put it on her slideshow and asked her about it. When she saw how pixelated it was, she knew she had sent me the wrong (too small) photo.

Renaming your files gives you that chance to look at the file again, whether it is in iPhoto, Windows Media Gallery, wherever.

4) File names are picked up by search engines.

You know when you do a Google image search for something and think ‘How does it bring me back such relevant (and sometimes hilariously irrelevant) results?’ It’s not like there’s people at Google cataloging photos on the internet. Instead search engines skim things like filenames and alt text. How else would we know that little girl is also named Nicole Ouellette (like me)?


In other words, there are several good reasons to rename your favorite photos. You can do it however you like (here’s an idea) but the point is, you’re not just doing it for me. You’re doing it for search engines and most importantly, for yourself.