Introduction to Keywords in Lightroom - Digital Photography School

Introduction to Keywords in Lightroom

As with any photo management tool Lightroom 2 offers you the ability to add keywords to your images. In this way you can make it easier to find images later on by searching for them by keyword. One simple way of adding keywords to your images is to do this as you import your images into Lightroom. Of course this requires that you’re importing a series of images which all share the same keywords. As this is not always the case, you may need to add keywords from inside Lightroom and I’ll show you how to do this.

Start in the Library module in Lightroom. While it appears possible to select multiple images in the Filmstrip whilst in Loupe view and add keywords to them this is not the case. The keywords will be added to only the first of the selected images and not all of them. Not only is this frustrating but it also is a little misleading.

Step 1

Keywords-Lightroom

Instead, to add keywords to multiple images at the one time you need to select Grid view (G). Select the images to add the keyword to and type a keyword in the Keyword Tags panel on the left of the screen (open Keywording) to access this. You can also drag and drop a keyword from the Keyword Suggestions onto the selected images.

Step 2

Keywords Lightroom 2

You can add keywords to any image from the Keyword List by selecting the images, then right click the keyword in the Keyword List and choose Assign this keyword to Selected Photos.

Step 3

lightroom keywords

Once you have added keywords to your images you can find the images by keywords by accessing the Filter panel. Press \ to toggle the display of this panel which appears above the Grid panel of images. Select Text, in the first box, select Keywords in the second box select Contains All (or Contain) and type the keywords in the last box. Contains All is an AND search and requires that an image contain both keywords such as Florence and Church. Contain is used for an OR search which would return all images with either or both the keywords, Florence or Church. To cancel the search, click the X button in the search field.

While keywords aren’t the easiest thing to get a grip on, in Lightroom they are key to being able to index and find your images quickly.

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Helen Bradley is a Lifestyle journalist who divides her time between the real and digital worlds, picking the best from both. She writes and produces video instruction for Photoshop and digital photography for magazines and online providers world wide. She has also written four books on photo crafts and blogs at Projectwoman.com.

  • Mike Clemens

    If anyone is interested I have an Excel spreadsheet for helping to manage Lightroom keywords. It allows you to do spell checks, looks for duplicates and a number of other functions. It works with the exported keyword file that can be created with Lightroom. It also uses ODBC to get the usage counts by keyword from a Lightroom catalog to display in the spreadsheet. I am currently working on a function to load keywords into the spreadsheet directly from the Ligthroom catalog. If you would like a copy of the spreadsheet send me an email. I also have a spreadsheet for analyzing the contents of all of your Lightroom catalogs.

  • http://www.tyleringramphotos.com Tyler

    Good to know, i’ve been playing more with Lightroom and using Keywords. With over 10,000 photos for 2008 it can be a bit tedious to find particular photos!

  • http://andy.edmonds.be Andy Edmonds

    Does lightroom also embed the keywords as EXIF meta-data?

  • chef

    not that it is important but instead of right clicking and choosing “Assign…” you can just click the box in front of a keyword in the keyword list to assign it. Even works for removing too.

  • http://mightymarce.blogspot.com Marcy

    You can also use the “paint” tool to “paint” keywords onto any photo in the Grid view. If you click on the spray paint can icon you can then type in the keyword into the box and you just click on the photos you want to add that keyword to. You can also “click-hold-spray” across several photos.

    Andy Edmonds- The keywords will be saved with the metadata within Lightroom (so if you export from LR to, say, flickr, the keywords go with it). You can also click Ctr + S (Or use the Metadata drop-down menu) to save the keywords to the actual file.

  • Bob

    I definitely second Marcy’s comment on the spraypaint can. I discovered that while first messing with LR and it was extremely helpful.

    I would set a keyword (a specific person’s name, “wedding”, “flowers”, etc) and then scroll through my entire library and “paint” each image with that tag. For keywords that don’t naturally clump together, this was a great way to just hit one or two pictures at a time.

    Also, slide the slider on your grid view all the way out to give you more thumbnails on the canvas to really speed through a long list of thousands of photos.

  • maureen

    thanks, that was helpful and also inspiring. i really need to get on my keywording!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • John

    Has anyone found a good way of “tagging” the faces in the photos with the people’s keyword names? AKA Facebook. In group photos, it’s hard to know who is who if there are just a couple of dozen names/keywords.

  • http://www.dpollitt.net David

    “Select the images to add the keyword to and type a keyword in the Keyword Tags panel on the left of the screen (open Keywording) to access this.”

    And by left… you mean, right.

  • http://www.projectwoman.com Helen Bradley

    Um.. that would be my other left..

    I am so sorry.. I totally can not tell left from right…

  • http://www.nickpotter.net Nick Potter

    I’ve just started a project to create some standardised keyword lists under a variety of subejcts and to provide them for free on my website.

    The first five are now available and cover:

    1. Geography – a list of all countries broken down by continent
    2. Animals – I’m sure this won’t be complete but includes over 350 animals
    3. Colours – Red or Crimson? A list of 42 of the more common colours
    4. Natural Landforms – Beaches, canyons, forest and glaciers
    5. Bodies of Water – Over 30 terms for that wet stuff

    You can download them here:

    http://www.nickpotter.net/2009/02/lists-keywords-and-lightroom.php

  • http://None David Weintraub

    Great articles and references. I have been taking notes on keywording. Mike Clemens, would like to take you up on the excel list offer, however, no hyperlink at your name or within the body of your comment seems to be provided. Could you email me at the email I provided in the ‘Leave a Reply’ box. If you do not have access, not sure if moderator would allow me to leave my email within this reply. Perhaps you can point me to your website, for I do not have one. Thank you.

  • http://www.topdigitaldownloads.com Ashley

    Please, can you PM me and tell me few more thinks about this, I am really fan of your blog…

  • http://www.technicnews.com Apple News

    Hello. Great job. I did not expect this on a Wednesday. This is a great story. Thanks!

  • http:www.apmadoc.net Tudor ApMadoc

    Mike – I’m very interested in getting a copy of that spreadsheet – do you have someplace were I can dowload it?

  • http://thomaskrueger.eu Thomas

    Just diving into Lightroom keywords coming from Imatch – I’m also interested in the spreadsheet to build up list.

  • http://thomaskrueger.eu Thomas

    Another link about building keyword lists with spreadsheets:
    http://lightroomsecrets.com/2009/04/building-keyword-lists-outside-of-lightroom/

  • http://blogrefinancing.com/ Refinancing

    Interesting post, just signed up to your RSS feed, hope to find some more great content here :)

  • http://www.chinookflorist.ca/ florist calgary

    I found this post to be very interesting, I bookmarked the page and put a link to this page on my website.

  • Conny

    Mike – would you be so kind to send me a copy of your excel sheet. I’m looking for some tools to manage my keywords.

  • JMic

    One thing I am really missing with LR after graduating from iPhoto is assigning keywords to keyboard shortcuts. I am relativly new to LR, so I may be missing something here but the ability to add INDIVIDUAL keywords with a single keyboard shortcut I found to be much faster with iPhoto. I think there is a way to add a group of keywords with a keyboard shortcut (if memory serves me correctly) but adding singles takes much longer with LR.

    Anyone have a work around for this?

  • Linda

    I would like to use keyword tags, as I’ve seen described; however, I don’t seem to have this on the left panel or anywhere else on my Lightroom 2 screen. Do you know why?

  • http://www.projectwoman.com/phototips.html Helen Bradley

    Check you are in Library mode and it is on the Right, not the Left sorry.. I have problems telling them apart.

  • Chet

    I’m having a little trouble with keywording in Lightroom 2 latest release. I use to be able to select all in Grid mood and assign keywords to all the pictures that are selected but now all it will do is put the keyword on 1 photo and not all of them selected. I looked all over for this and not able t find a fix. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thank’s

  • http://adegreeofwonder.com liisa

    @chet – Not sure why it’s not working for you, as it should. If you still continue to have problems, you can also do this: Apply the keywords to one photo. Select this photo and all the others you want to apply the keywords to. Choose the “Sync Metadata” button on the bottom of the right panel. Make sure the box next to “Keywords” is checked, and click “Synchronize.”

  • http://www.internationalparcel.com.au International Parcel

    Keyword tagging saves a lot of time! Its amazing how many photographers have thousands of photos and still browse through them manually

  • Steve

    UI Suggestion: Would streamline things if I could control-click on several folders in the left side of the Library panel, and then click the checkbox to the left of a keyword in the Keyword List on the right side panel, and have the keyword applied automatically to all photos in those selected folders. However it instead seems to require going into each folder and then Select All photos before applying the keyword. Am I missing an easy workaround?

  • Santoyo

    cool picsxx

  • http://www.JoePellicone.com NotYourAvgJoe

    Mike, OR ANYONE WHO CAN ANSWER THIS…

    Im wondering about selecting photos in LR from a excel file list.

    Basically what I want to do is have LR either place a keyword or mark a photo as a Select or Green if it finds that matching file number in the excel spreadsheet or even a CSV file.

    Can this be done????????

    MIKES QUOTED POST:
    Mike Clemens Says:
    January 21st, 2009 at 8:15 am
    If anyone is interested I have an Excel spreadsheet for helping to manage Lightroom keywords. It allows you to do spell checks, looks for duplicates and a number of other functions. It works with the exported keyword file that can be created with Lightroom. It also uses ODBC to get the usage counts by keyword from a Lightroom catalog to display in the spreadsheet. I am currently working on a function to load keywords into the spreadsheet directly from the Ligthroom catalog. If you would like a copy of the spreadsheet send me an email. I also have a spreadsheet for analyzing the contents of all of your Lightroom catalogs.

    Read more: http://www.digital-photography-school.com/introduction-to-keywords-and-lightroom#ixzz1AZ67qdEE

  • Tom Wassmer

    I just found this post and would really like to try out the excel file Mike Clemens wrote about. I hope he is still around and reads this. You can email it to me at tom@wassmer.org

    Thanks a lot in advance!

    Tom

  • http://www.whitepetal.co.uk Paul

    Thanks for this, I must spend a little more time at the import stage to get the keywords in place! As you point out….. saves time later! I’m going to include a location key word for my weddings :)

  • Mainer82

    I’d rather have a list of my keywords to pick from like Photoshop Elements for Windows Live Photo. Searching is OK, but choosing from a list would be better.

  • George

    I am haviang a lot of trouble with keywords. Somehow a lot of may photos have the wrond keywords and it appears to be an irreversable mistake. Also What is the sequence for dragging tphotos to a keyword in the list. Some drag and some don’t. . Is there a simple way just to juggle keywords so that they fit the photo. A mess for sure Any help would be appreciated.

Some older comments

  • George

    October 25, 2011 12:54 pm

    I am haviang a lot of trouble with keywords. Somehow a lot of may photos have the wrond keywords and it appears to be an irreversable mistake. Also What is the sequence for dragging tphotos to a keyword in the list. Some drag and some don't. . Is there a simple way just to juggle keywords so that they fit the photo. A mess for sure Any help would be appreciated.

  • Mainer82

    July 28, 2011 05:16 am

    I'd rather have a list of my keywords to pick from like Photoshop Elements for Windows Live Photo. Searching is OK, but choosing from a list would be better.

  • Paul

    June 19, 2011 05:45 pm

    Thanks for this, I must spend a little more time at the import stage to get the keywords in place! As you point out..... saves time later! I'm going to include a location key word for my weddings :)

  • Tom Wassmer

    March 7, 2011 10:15 am

    I just found this post and would really like to try out the excel file Mike Clemens wrote about. I hope he is still around and reads this. You can email it to me at tom@wassmer.org

    Thanks a lot in advance!

    Tom

  • NotYourAvgJoe

    January 9, 2011 06:46 pm

    Mike, OR ANYONE WHO CAN ANSWER THIS...

    Im wondering about selecting photos in LR from a excel file list.

    Basically what I want to do is have LR either place a keyword or mark a photo as a Select or Green if it finds that matching file number in the excel spreadsheet or even a CSV file.

    Can this be done????????

    MIKES QUOTED POST:
    Mike Clemens Says:
    January 21st, 2009 at 8:15 am
    If anyone is interested I have an Excel spreadsheet for helping to manage Lightroom keywords. It allows you to do spell checks, looks for duplicates and a number of other functions. It works with the exported keyword file that can be created with Lightroom. It also uses ODBC to get the usage counts by keyword from a Lightroom catalog to display in the spreadsheet. I am currently working on a function to load keywords into the spreadsheet directly from the Ligthroom catalog. If you would like a copy of the spreadsheet send me an email. I also have a spreadsheet for analyzing the contents of all of your Lightroom catalogs.

    Read more: http://www.digital-photography-school.com/introduction-to-keywords-and-lightroom#ixzz1AZ67qdEE

  • Santoyo

    October 2, 2010 06:37 am

    cool picsxx

  • Steve

    August 20, 2010 10:11 am

    UI Suggestion: Would streamline things if I could control-click on several folders in the left side of the Library panel, and then click the checkbox to the left of a keyword in the Keyword List on the right side panel, and have the keyword applied automatically to all photos in those selected folders. However it instead seems to require going into each folder and then Select All photos before applying the keyword. Am I missing an easy workaround?

  • International Parcel

    June 1, 2010 06:23 pm

    Keyword tagging saves a lot of time! Its amazing how many photographers have thousands of photos and still browse through them manually

  • liisa

    April 3, 2010 05:32 am

    @chet - Not sure why it's not working for you, as it should. If you still continue to have problems, you can also do this: Apply the keywords to one photo. Select this photo and all the others you want to apply the keywords to. Choose the "Sync Metadata" button on the bottom of the right panel. Make sure the box next to "Keywords" is checked, and click "Synchronize."

  • Chet

    March 23, 2010 02:38 am

    I'm having a little trouble with keywording in Lightroom 2 latest release. I use to be able to select all in Grid mood and assign keywords to all the pictures that are selected but now all it will do is put the keyword on 1 photo and not all of them selected. I looked all over for this and not able t find a fix. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thank's

  • Helen Bradley

    March 19, 2010 08:13 am

    Check you are in Library mode and it is on the Right, not the Left sorry.. I have problems telling them apart.

  • Linda

    March 19, 2010 02:01 am

    I would like to use keyword tags, as I've seen described; however, I don't seem to have this on the left panel or anywhere else on my Lightroom 2 screen. Do you know why?

  • JMic

    January 23, 2010 02:46 am

    One thing I am really missing with LR after graduating from iPhoto is assigning keywords to keyboard shortcuts. I am relativly new to LR, so I may be missing something here but the ability to add INDIVIDUAL keywords with a single keyboard shortcut I found to be much faster with iPhoto. I think there is a way to add a group of keywords with a keyboard shortcut (if memory serves me correctly) but adding singles takes much longer with LR.

    Anyone have a work around for this?

  • Conny

    January 9, 2010 07:19 pm

    Mike - would you be so kind to send me a copy of your excel sheet. I'm looking for some tools to manage my keywords.

  • florist calgary

    December 1, 2009 02:17 am

    I found this post to be very interesting, I bookmarked the page and put a link to this page on my website.

  • Refinancing

    June 29, 2009 08:44 pm

    Interesting post, just signed up to your RSS feed, hope to find some more great content here :)

  • Thomas

    June 26, 2009 02:37 am

    Another link about building keyword lists with spreadsheets:
    http://lightroomsecrets.com/2009/04/building-keyword-lists-outside-of-lightroom/

  • Thomas

    June 26, 2009 02:32 am

    Just diving into Lightroom keywords coming from Imatch - I'm also interested in the spreadsheet to build up list.

  • Tudor ApMadoc

    May 21, 2009 05:25 am

    Mike - I'm very interested in getting a copy of that spreadsheet - do you have someplace were I can dowload it?

  • Apple News

    April 14, 2009 03:36 am

    Hello. Great job. I did not expect this on a Wednesday. This is a great story. Thanks!

  • Ashley

    March 6, 2009 11:54 am

    Please, can you PM me and tell me few more thinks about this, I am really fan of your blog...

  • David Weintraub

    February 9, 2009 04:46 pm

    Great articles and references. I have been taking notes on keywording. Mike Clemens, would like to take you up on the excel list offer, however, no hyperlink at your name or within the body of your comment seems to be provided. Could you email me at the email I provided in the 'Leave a Reply' box. If you do not have access, not sure if moderator would allow me to leave my email within this reply. Perhaps you can point me to your website, for I do not have one. Thank you.

  • Nick Potter

    February 2, 2009 07:39 pm

    I've just started a project to create some standardised keyword lists under a variety of subejcts and to provide them for free on my website.

    The first five are now available and cover:

    1. Geography - a list of all countries broken down by continent
    2. Animals - I'm sure this won't be complete but includes over 350 animals
    3. Colours - Red or Crimson? A list of 42 of the more common colours
    4. Natural Landforms - Beaches, canyons, forest and glaciers
    5. Bodies of Water - Over 30 terms for that wet stuff

    You can download them here:

    http://www.nickpotter.net/2009/02/lists-keywords-and-lightroom.php

  • Helen Bradley

    January 30, 2009 02:25 pm

    Um.. that would be my other left..

    I am so sorry.. I totally can not tell left from right...

  • David

    January 28, 2009 06:23 am

    "Select the images to add the keyword to and type a keyword in the Keyword Tags panel on the left of the screen (open Keywording) to access this."

    And by left... you mean, right.

  • John

    January 23, 2009 08:40 am

    Has anyone found a good way of "tagging" the faces in the photos with the people's keyword names? AKA Facebook. In group photos, it's hard to know who is who if there are just a couple of dozen names/keywords.

  • maureen

    January 23, 2009 01:53 am

    thanks, that was helpful and also inspiring. i really need to get on my keywording!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Bob

    January 21, 2009 10:50 pm

    I definitely second Marcy's comment on the spraypaint can. I discovered that while first messing with LR and it was extremely helpful.

    I would set a keyword (a specific person's name, "wedding", "flowers", etc) and then scroll through my entire library and "paint" each image with that tag. For keywords that don't naturally clump together, this was a great way to just hit one or two pictures at a time.

    Also, slide the slider on your grid view all the way out to give you more thumbnails on the canvas to really speed through a long list of thousands of photos.

  • Marcy

    January 21, 2009 02:58 pm

    You can also use the "paint" tool to "paint" keywords onto any photo in the Grid view. If you click on the spray paint can icon you can then type in the keyword into the box and you just click on the photos you want to add that keyword to. You can also "click-hold-spray" across several photos.

    Andy Edmonds- The keywords will be saved with the metadata within Lightroom (so if you export from LR to, say, flickr, the keywords go with it). You can also click Ctr + S (Or use the Metadata drop-down menu) to save the keywords to the actual file.

  • chef

    January 21, 2009 09:18 am

    not that it is important but instead of right clicking and choosing "Assign..." you can just click the box in front of a keyword in the keyword list to assign it. Even works for removing too.

  • Andy Edmonds

    January 21, 2009 09:09 am

    Does lightroom also embed the keywords as EXIF meta-data?

  • Tyler

    January 21, 2009 08:58 am

    Good to know, i've been playing more with Lightroom and using Keywords. With over 10,000 photos for 2008 it can be a bit tedious to find particular photos!

  • Mike Clemens

    January 21, 2009 08:15 am

    If anyone is interested I have an Excel spreadsheet for helping to manage Lightroom keywords. It allows you to do spell checks, looks for duplicates and a number of other functions. It works with the exported keyword file that can be created with Lightroom. It also uses ODBC to get the usage counts by keyword from a Lightroom catalog to display in the spreadsheet. I am currently working on a function to load keywords into the spreadsheet directly from the Ligthroom catalog. If you would like a copy of the spreadsheet send me an email. I also have a spreadsheet for analyzing the contents of all of your Lightroom catalogs.

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