Surname Filing, MRINs & Photo Collections: MRIN Folders, Part 3

by JL Beeken on 4-15-2012

As per the last post about filing everything, all files are now sorted into MRIN folders.

The main disadvantage to MRIN Filing is that family lines become separated by number. If you’re used to surname filing and being able to quickly find the files of a family group, it’s going to be a challenge.

You can try but with family lines going off this way and that, the numbering is going to do likewise.

When I started filing paper it went into numbered folders according to the next number. There’s no order to it except 1, 2, 3, 4 … As I went through the pile, so went the numbering.

Let’s say I get a hankering to make a photo collage of the descendants of my Wilke-Beeken grandparents. How do I find only those files?

It’s anything but straightforward. I’d have to tag a Focus Group in Legacy, then print out a report that includes the MRINs and then pick through all the numbered folders finding the right ones. Not really what you’d call a plan.

The only way of going about this, that makes sense to me, is sorting the MRIN folders into a surname folder structure. Then I have the best of both worlds.

Instead of this:

MRIN Folders

I would have this by direct-line generations:

Surname Filing With MRINs

The siblings of each direct line would go into the folder of their parents.

MRIN Folders With Siblings

About now, you may be wondering why I need the MRINs at all. Why not just go to surname-filing alone? Because when I’m wandering loose in Legacy and need to see a source document, I can’t be bothered to think about which folder-within-a-folder-within-a-folder to go to. I just put the MRIN into Search and immediately the files come up. It’s quicker.

I have to get a quieter mouse. Some days every unnecessary click is like a pneumatic drill.

How to sort the files by date, should I ever want to do that, since they all begin with an MRIN? Not a problem. Chop off the first 5 characters with Bulk Rename Utility. I digress …)

Photo Collections, Photo Mechanic

So if I want to see just my Wilke-Beeken grandparents and their descendants I would open their folder (including the sub-folders) plus my parent’s folder. Photo Mechanic can do this because it permits opening multiple folders in the same set.

Opening Folders, Photo Mechanic

This is a really useful function that I don’t see in my other commonly-used software. First I open 2-0002 as Folder and Subfolders, then I add 1-0001 to current Contact Sheet.

Then I can further sort this collection by searching Object Name – photograph, because I’ve already added that annotation.

Find, Photo Mechanic

In just a few clicks I have all the photos I want for my collage.

Photo Collections, ACDSee

As explained in Photo Collections & Photo Organizing, this can also be done in my old ACDSee Pro by opening the appropriate folders and adding them to an ‘album’. And then searching and dissecting them into sub-categories.

Albums, ACDSee Pro Photo Manager

There are endless ways to slice and dice this. These albums are proprietary to ACDSee so they’re not going to show up in other software. Consequently, it’s a major strike against. The more software my files are dependent upon, the more distressed I get. So, there is another way to do this.

Text Exporter, Photo Mechanic

In Photo Mechanic is an option called Export. The one I’m interested in right now is the Text Exporter. This will export a TXT file of file-paths to a collection of photos.

Exporter, Photo Mechanic

After searching for the photos I want, I choose the variables folderpath and filename. There’s a list so you don’t have to invent this yourself.

Variables, Photo Mechanic

That produces a TXT file like this:

C:\Users\JL\Documents\ANCESTORS\BEEKEN HISTORY\Beeken MRIN\1-0001 Baker-Beeken\0001-1929-01.JPG
C:\Users\JL\Documents\ANCESTORS\BEEKEN HISTORY\Beeken MRIN\1-0001 Baker-Beeken\0001-1929-01.TIF
C:\Users\JL\Documents\ANCESTORS\BEEKEN HISTORY\Beeken MRIN\1-0001 Baker-Beeken\0001-1929-01_e.TIF
C:\Users\JL\Documents\ANCESTORS\BEEKEN HISTORY\Beeken MRIN\1-0001 Baker-Beeken\0001-1930-01.JPG
C:\Users\JL\Documents\ANCESTORS\BEEKEN HISTORY\Beeken MRIN\1-0001 Baker-Beeken\0001-1930-02.TIF

If I name this ‘Desc Beeken-Wilke Photographs’ that’s a collection I can come back to without having to save it as part of some other software. The only caveat is that if I add new photos to these folders then, yes, I’ll have to update the list by doing a new search. But, that would also be true if I was using other software.

Photo Collections, XnView

There’s also a way to make photo collections in TXT files for free using XnView which I discovered after writing this post.

Opening a Photo Collection, IrfanView

This text file can be loaded in IrfanView, portable and free, (as demonstrated in Photo Collections: IrfanView but with more roundabout ways of creating the TXT file.) And it will show as a window full of thumbnails.

Load TXT File, Irfanview

From here I would copy the files out to a temporary folder to use for making my collage and then delete them. I can change my mind about the collage and come back the next day and load the TXT file again. You can’t save a collection directly in Photo Mechanic so once you’ve narrowed down a search for one there, the TXT file of the file-paths is a shortcut to holding onto it.

Individuals can be easily searched in Windows and a variety of software by MRIN or by keyword tags. But this method of surname-filing makes it possible to bring together specific files for specific lines.

As an added benefit, if you keep your files and these TXT file collections in Dropbox, for instance, or Copy you should be able to have your collections on any of your computers without installing more software. In the file-paths, your username would have to be the same. Just do a quick Search & Replace if necessary.

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