I have several thousand images in a folder on my windows machine. I want to browse through them all and select for printing a subset of these - I reckon around 20% or about 400.

Selecting means copying a chosen image over to some other folder. How can I do this efficiently? At the moment I am viewing images in the default Windows viewer and then right-clicking on the image in Explorer, copying, then pasting into the destination folder.

Doing this hundreds is times is a lot of work. What I really want to be able to do is just click a button to send a chosen picture to destination folder.

Any suggestions for software that could help? How do people here select image subsets?

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this really doesn't have anything to do with photography specifically. Try the superuser stack exchange site. – dpollitt Apr 1 '16 at 18:46
  • @dpollitt well possibly but this I imagine is an issue faced by anyone with large numbers of photos to sort thus I feel community here likely best placed to answer – Richard H Apr 1 '16 at 20:18

Most digital asset management software have specialized features for this. It consists of some type of search and browsing view with a selection tool, plus actions which operate on the selection.

Adobe's Lightroom is most commonly used by photographers and offers many ways to do this. One can tag images with colors, flags, stars, keywords, etc. With a selection chosen you can then Export as Originals which copies files to a specific location. It can at the same time apply processing such as sharpening for glossy or matte paper and resizing for output.

Should you easily know which one you want to print, you can go through images one by one with the keyboard or use the mouse to assign them a color which will show up as a border of the chosen color around the thumbnail. When done, open the filter tool and select the chosen color which will make the grid view only show matching images. Then choose Select All and Export. Actually Lightroom allows drag-and-drop file-system operation, so you can do a straight copy by simply dragging the selected set to a particular folder.

Sometimes it takes multiple passes to narrow down the selection which is OK too. Simply go back to set or unset the color of an image until you are satisfied with the set. There is also a facility, possibly with keyboard short-cut, to add or remove images to a Quick Collection which is just a temporary set. Once you are satisfied with the set, again Select All and Export.


If you want to do this in Windows Explorer, the obvious way is Ctrl-click to select all the images you want at once, then just copy and paste them all in one go. (Forgetting the Ctrl when clicking will undo all your previous work, so it's probably worth copying them over in batches of 20 or so).

However... this is something which any half way decent photo management application will do for you - just add them to a "collection" or whatever your application calls its grouping mechanism. We don't do software recommendations here, but there's a very well known one from Adobe :-)


If you want to use the standard Windows software, you could try Windows Photo Gallery. It is included with some versions of Windows, or you can download it free of charge.

It allows you to view all of your photos. To mark particular photos you are interested in, you can use the 'Flag' feature. Just click the Flag button on the toolbar, or press the Insert key. So you can work through all of your photos, flagging them as you like. You can also add tags or ratings (0-5).

Then you can use the find feature, to just show your flagged photos, or photos with a particular tag or rating. You can then select all of those photos, and copy them into another folder etc.

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