Naming Pictures

Pictures – A Naming Strategy

Ancestral Quest can be used as a scrapbooking tool. It can also show images of documentation such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, census records, etc. This can be a powerful tool for preserving both memories and evidence. Sometimes, however, there is an overpowering number of images. I have several thousand. This brings up the problem of finding any given picture. Sometimes there appears to be no order in the list of photographs.

This list of photos begins with Jones then goes to King and then to Black and finally back to Jones. Look at the red box labeled Size. The box contains a downward pointing triangle. This indicates that the list is sorted in descending order of size. Now click on the word Name way over to the left of the red box.

Now there is an upward pointing triangle in the Name box. The black family comes before the Jones family. The Jones family comes before the King family. Within the Black family the photos are ordered by birth year. Daniel James Black is the father of Jane Black, and he was born before she was. There are two photos of Jane.

Edward Jones is the father of Edward, William and James Jones. He, Edward, was born in 1924. His son Edward was born in 1947. The year of birth separates Edward the older from Edward the younger. The boys are listed in order of birth. Edward and his three sons are shown in a group photo. The sequence number on the group photo begins with a 9. It is listed under the name of Edward the older, because he is the oldest person in the photo. The 9 on the sequence number separates individual photos from group photos. Edward’s sons are mentioned in the name of the photo.

Ordering photos by Surname, Year of Birth, Given Name, Sequence Number, Optional Description, has seemed like a reasonable approach to a difficult problem. This is just a suggestion. There is no requirement to name photos this way.

In my classes I try to emphasize that images or folders holding images should be located in the same folder as the opened file which will reference them. Here is why.

Here is a directory listing showing my flash drive. There is a folder called AQ Data in the root of that drive.  By root, I mean that there are no folders containing the AQ Data folder. It is directly inside the G: drive. There is a folder inside the AQ Data folder. It is called Images. The first two images in this posting show the contents of the Images folder.

I am going to use the first photo of Edward the older as his default photo in his scrapbook.

Note that the pointer to the photo does not include the drive letter of the flash drive nor does it include the AQ Data folder which holds the opened Jones file and the Images folder. It starts with the folder name, Images.

There is another folder called AQ Pictures. This folder is NOT inside the AQ Data folder. It contains a picture of Edward (the older) Jones. Watch what happens when I put this photo into the scrapbook.

Everything looks good so far. (Except that the photo I used for the example is not really a photo of Edward. I just needed some photo for an example)


Since the picture we want to put into the scrapbook isn’t inside the folder containing the opened Jones file, Ancestral Quest must use the full path name to the photo, including the drive letter G:, along with the folder name, AQ Pictures.

Now, if you go to the home of a friend, and try to show your pictures, that picture will only show if the flash drive is assigned the drive letter G: by the operating system. Good Luck on having that happen!
Suggestions/Questions about AQ Will Do or Subjects discussed here? Leave a Comment.


  1. Jude

    Dale my late husband made a separate folder in Pictures, in which he made folders for every person in our data base with their RIN number. When I want to insert a photo into scrapbook for a particular person, I just go to their folder in Pictures, copy and insert. Should I have these folders within the AQ program? I know sometimes when I go into my AQ and look to add a photo, it sometimes (and not doing now I am trying) comes up ‘no file path’ or something like that.

    • Jude, it doesn’t matter where the pictures are located, but some locations make it easier to use them than others. My data files are all located in a folder called
      My photos are located in a folder called
      Because the Images folder is inside the folder containing the data file, the AQ program can ‘see’ the Images folder and its contents. That means that when I browse to find the photo, I can always browse in the same place. When I find the photo and click on it then save the reference, the program only loads the name of the folder, which is Images, and the name of the photo. If the photo had been in the folder Pictures, supplied by the Windows operating system, the program needs to store the entire path name including the C:/ drive designation. Either will work, but keeping my photos in a folder which can be seen directly by the program makes it easier to see the name of the photo in the Add Scrapbook window, and I always know where to look for photos used in AQ. I even use that folder for photos not shown by AQ. I use the photo title to keep things orderly inside the folder. My naming strategy is for each photo to have four parts to its name
      1 Surname
      2 Birth year or xxxx if unknown
      3 Given names
      4 Sequential 4 digit number
      Photos are sorted by surname, and within that by birth year, and within that by given names, and within that a number from 0001 to 9999.
      In the sequential number, those beginning with a 0 represent photos of a single individual. I can have 999 portraits of any person. If I should get more, I would use the numbers 1000 to 1999 for the overflow.
      Sequential numbers beginning with a 9 represent group photos. Any photo with two or more people is a group photo. If I should have more than 999 of these, I can overflow into numbers beginning with 8 and ranging from 8000 to 8999. Numbers beginning with 2 to 7 are other types of photos. In group photos I save the photo under the name of the person in the photo most closely related to me, or the apparently oldest person I can identify in the photo.

      When I hear that people get a message that a photo can’t be found, my first thought is that they placed the photo into a scrapbook then either deleted the photo or moved it to another folder. Does that information help?

  2. Richard Durrans

    Dale: I ended up confused by your “Ooops” comment. I thought the whole point was to have the Images file imbedded within the AQ Data file so it all transferred together and was useful on all drives. Now I am confused.

    • Richard, the Ooops referred to the fact that referencing a photo which is not contained within the same folder where the file is opened, forces AQ to include the full path name of the photo, including the drive letter. This is what we are trying to avoid.

      By the way, the photo is not embedded within the data file. It is inside the folder which contains the opened data file. Embedding makes for a very large file, and would make the program run very slowly. The object is to either open the file in a folder which contains the images, or to copy the images to the folder where the file will be opened. At that point the images become visible to the program without the need for a drive letter, and any folder names which would be on a level higher than the location of the data file and images.

      This is referred to as either Here, or Current Location. In other words, “I see you because you are where I am.”

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