I'm struggling with the problem of how to name digital images that I download from FamilySearch.org and other websites.
When the "Save As" dialog box pops up in Windows, there is usually a filename populating the dialog box. If the provider offers a distinct filename, my usual practice is to keep that filename and note it in my records. Unless the website includes in the filename the date it was downloaded, this allows me to check whether or not I have downloaded it before -- when moving it from my 'new downloads' folder to its place in my permanent storage area, W8 will tell me I already have a copy of the file.
But FamilySearch downloads all Save As "record-image.jpg" unless you tell Windows otherwise. The same problem exists when printing PDFs from images on FamilySearch (care is needed or the image gets cropped) or other websites. The 'Save As' dialog auto-fills with 'untitled.PDF' or 'document.PDF', forcing users to make up a filename on the spot, or end up with a batch of files named document(n).pdf and the like. My preference is to encode the archive reference in the filename where possible, similar to what Findmypast does with some of their record images from TNA.
My current practice is to rename the file using some version of the number following the 'pal' (Persistent Archive Link) in the link I took to the image, removing any characters not allowed in a filename (e.g. https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NW7Q-GQJ reduces to MM9110-NW7QGQJ). One advantage of doing this is that I also save a screen capture or scrape the data off the results page, and the original link is in the source citation -- if the filename matches that in some way, I can see that I have downloaded the corresponding file without having to explicitly note that I have done so.
However, I don't like this solution because when FamilySearch changes how they name everything again, the filename will be meaningless. See the related question Persistent URLs (web addresses) for online records of genealogical events, especially AdrianB38's answer -- the issues discussed there are why I want to move away from using the PAL numbers.
Another option might be to use some form of the digital file number in the references given for each search result:
Reference ID: v 445 p 693 , GS Film number: 961512 , Digital Folder Number: 4225007 , Image Number: 607
Two articles I found which discuss the GS Film number, and how to retrieve items when no online image is available, are Understanding the source information behind Historical Records results and How to find an image in the FamilySearch Catalog using the film number found in Historical Records.
To solve the 'where did these files come from' problem I place them into a folder labelled with the name of the website until I can work through the batch and rename them. But a long session on FamilySearch.org might result in a folder with dozens of files that are all called 'record-image' with the later files having the number appended by Windows when it downloads duplicates.
What system do you use? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Do you work in batches, or do you find it more efficient to rename each file as it is downloaded?
The image-processing program IrfanView allows the user to add a comment to an image. (Other programs probably do as well, but IrfanView is the one I use most). FamilySearch has a "copy citation" feature in its viewer, so I plan to copy the citations and attach them to the images with IrfanView's comment feature. This will preserve the citation as it appeared on the day I downloaded or re-visited the image until I can create a multimedia record in Family Historian.
Edited May 2015 to add: it seems that FamilySearch has changed the way they serve images when downloaded -- files now seem to have a reference number in the name. One of my recent downloads was named
I haven't decoded the reference number yet, but if the name is the same every time it is accessed, this will solve my generic image filename problem. I'll have to re-access the older images to capture the new filenames as I review my data.
Late 2019 update:
On the Evidence Explained website, in the discussion Using FamilySearch Citaton, Robert Raymond from FamilySearch posted:
ARK addresses on FamilySearch are intended to be long-lived. It is our (FamilySearch's) intent to maintain them for "a long time." We recommend you incorporate them into your citations. Unlike DOI identifiers (which Elizabeth illustrates in Evidence Explained), ARK identifiers are expressed as URLs. Dropping the portion of the URL starting with the question mark does not affect the persistence of the ARK.
Since the last time I updated the question, FamilySearch image downloads again autofill with a generic filename, so I am reconsidering how I can use a modified ARK identifier as the filename for image downloads. Another option would be to use film numbers, DGS numbers, or Digital File Numbers plus the image number as a temporary measure, but those may not be persistent.