Sunday, 7 November 2021

Photos, photos and more photos

A brief, limited post about many photos!

A lively Twitter chat #ANZAncestryTime about photo digitization and storage provided some ideas and prompted me to find a couple of previous posts I had written on this topic, this one back in 2014 on Organising photos and another on sharing photos via Flickr and Trove.

Time and software move on but some simple methods for preserving photos and the information about them are worth revisiting.

Adding data to scanned photos

I regularly use a simple Paint program on my Windows computer to add extra white canvas to a photo and then type in as much detail as known about the photo. This is in addition to adding the metadata in the details fields of the photos.

1. Copy the photo, open Paint and paste
2. Drag the bottom corner either sideways or down to create extra canvas. You may need to zoom out in order to see the bottom of your photo. Here I have zoomed out to 12.5%.
3. Select the Text button to type in the details
Adding white space in Paint
Most photo editing software packages have this function to add extra canvas for typing but as Paint is part of Windows and extremely simple to use this is a very quick method for adding text.

In the free Irfanview the option is under Image > Change canvas size.
Two free online options that do not need a login are Lunapic and Pixlr.

File naming

Early in my photo digitization process, I realized the need for a consistent file naming pattern. A simple spreadsheet helps me name files consistently. The clip below shows the details to be added, then the final column, in this case, column H puts the data together generating the file name to copy. The simple formula used here is CONCATENATE to join all the columns that have data in them. 
This works for a wide variety of photos as one need only fill in the details available such as the street scene photo listed in row 5. Empty cells are ignored with this formula. Column D has an underscore which separates the name of the photo or the Who from the rest of the more descriptive elements of the file name.

My photos are then stored in surname folders where applicable with the rest filed either by year or place. All photos and data are backed up to external hard drives and cloud storage.


Physical photos once scanned are added to Albox archival albums which I purchased from Gould Genealogy The photo pages have convenient slip-in labels for adding detail about the photos.


I initially used a Dropbox folder for sharing with immediate family but now I have paid storage elsewhere I add photos and documents to Google Drive and share folders from there. Stories using photos in blog posts over on Earlier Years are designed to reach a wider audience.

This post first appeared on

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Saving Trove lists

Do you have a variety of Trove lists made as you research your family history? 

It is likely that you compiled these over time as new resources became available through Trove. Any newly found item added to a Trove list is always added at the end, so over time, the lists become unwieldy. There is a filter by date option, but what if you have forgotten the year in which that article appeared or you would prefer to have more control over the data in the list?

Here's a handy guide for saving and adding lists to your computer so that you can manipulate the data in a spreadsheet.

Log in to Trove and select the list to download. Decide whether to filter by date or type. Here I have chosen the whole list as it has only 51 items.

Open in Excel or equivalent spreadsheet. There are several columns that can be deleted before you begin to sort the data. The only columns to retain are:
  1. itemSequence - that is what number it is in the list
  2. itemNote - any notes made about why the item was added to the list
  3. itemThumbnailImage - more about this column later
  4. workTitle - the title of that section of the page
  5. workDate - this one will be split for sorting
  6. workPage - page number
  7. workFormat - whether it is a Family Notice, article etc

The next step

Insert three columns to the right of workDate.
Choose the Data tab, highlight the workDate column then Text to Columns

Follow the wizard, choose Delimited

choose delimited

On the next screen choose space.

choose space

This displays how the data will be distributed in the blank columns you previously added. On the final wizard screen, leave the choice as General then words will remain as text and numerals will be formatted as number data.

Change the column headers to match the newly created columns. Day, Date, Month Year.
Save, then highlight the whole spreadsheet. From the Data tab choose Sort.

Add the Month column next and choose Custom list to see the built-in Custom lists.

Add another level for Date so the final sort screen shows as below.

The data now displays in date order as it was published.

One final step to make this spreadsheet useful. 
The links in the column titled itemThumbnailImage only display a thumbnail of the page. 
  1. Highlight the column
  2. CTRL-F to Find -t then leave the Replace field blank. 
This will remove the thumbnail so that the link will redirect to the full page where the article is located.

Now one has a useable timeline of all the articles saved for that family complete with the notes made about the article at the time.

Have you downloaded any of your Trove lists since the upgrade last June?

This post first appeared on

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Simplify your view

Genealogy life in Covid19 times

Your travel plans have been curbed, the restaurants, museums and art galleries are closed during the lockdown. It is National Family History Month so what better time could there be to review and upgrade the tools you use for family history?

Simple Software enhancements

Do you ever lose track of where that cursor (cursed thing) is? Do you sometimes give presentations to other family historians? Do yourself and other viewers a favour by making your mouse cursor visible.

In the search bar type Mouse pointer > Select from this display

If you do not have Search turned on head to Settings and type in mouse.

Simply drag the bar to enlarge your pointer, this also enlarges the cursor.
If presenting to an audience consider changing to a larger size so that viewers can easily see the pointer.Use the color wheel on the right to choose a colour to contrast with your slides or presentation.

If you do not have the search bar turned on in your bottom toolbar, right click on the up arrow on the far right hand side and select Search then choose either the icon or the search box.


Have you saved some hard-earned money by staying at home? Perhaps a treat for your eyes may help with your family history.

Yes, a second screen for your family history.

Are you working on digitizing your photos and would benefit by viewing them on a larger screen?

Perhaps you have some faded shipping lists or documents that are hard to read.

For far too long I worked only on a laptop or iPad screen. Imagine my delight at having acquired a larger monitor for editing those photos and viewing those faded documents. 

Ways to use a second monitor for family history tasks

  • Comparing data on two browser tabs, simply drag one tab to the second screen to view them side by side.
  • Family history software open on one screen, data source e.g. Ancestry, MyHeritage or any other program open on the second monitor,
  • Data in the family history program open on one screen and a spreadsheet open for filtering and sorting on the second monitor.
  • Copy from one screen and paste to the other.
  • Watch webinars and see the detail in a presenter's slides on a larger screen, while taking notes on your smaller screen.
  • File naming protocol document always open on one screen while saving files on the other
  • Photo digitizing on one screen and spreadsheet for recording them on the other.
My 21" monitor is certainly not a high-end, high-priced product, but more than satisfactory for my needs. If you have saved on expenses during the lockdown, you may like to consider doing your family history a favour with a second monitor.

After plugging the second monitor in either by HDMI or VGA cable do visit Settings to extend the display. 

For those who already have a second monitor, what other genealogy-related tasks are easier with two screens?

This post first appeared on

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