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You’ve likely had this problem if you’ve been using Lightroom for any length of time. Can you relate? You go to your Lightroom catalog to find that amazing picture you took of the sunset in Maui last summer and scroll through thousands of previews in the filmstrip, but you can’t find your photos.
But was it before the weekend you went camping with your family? Or was it around the time you photographed your sister’s baby shower? You have thousands of images and can’t find what you’re looking for, and everything is a mess.
Luckily, with a little bit of organization and know-how, it’s really easy to find your images in Lightroom.
One of Lightroom’s biggest strengths is the ability it gives you to organize and archive your photos.
You can find your photos by:
You can also customize the Library Filter bar and use Library Filter presets.
So without further ado, let’s look at some of the ways we can sort and find photos in Lightroom.
The most basic way of locating your photos is to scroll through Grid view. If you know the filename or approximate capture date, you can sort the photos into a specific order.
The Sort options are on the Toolbar in Grid view under View Menu > Sort.
By default, I have mine set to Capture Time, which sorts my photos from the oldest to the newest.
Scrolling through photos is impractical unless you have a small number of photos, which is usually not the case. Filtering hides the photos that don’t meet the criteria that you choose.
For example, you may only want to view the photos that you have applied 5 stars to, as I do to all of the images I have finalized editing and exported to a folder.
The Library Filter bar at the top of the Grid View in the Library Module offers three main ways to find your photos by using the Text filter, the Attribute Filter, or the Metadata filter.
The bar appears in the middle of the grid of your images in the Library Module (circled below). You cannot see it unless you are in Grid View.
If you don’t see it, go up to View and choose Show Filter Bar or hit backslash ( \ ) on your keyboard.
Also, choose where you want to search. If you are searching all of your photographs in the Catalog, be sure to click on All Photographs under Catalog in the left-hand panel under Navigator.
The Text Filter allows you to search through the catalog or a selection of photos using a certain text search field.
There are several search options, such as keywords, metadata, as well as IPTC or EXIF information. EXIF information includes the camera make, model, serial number and software.
Any searchable plug-in field includes searchable metadata fields created by third-party plug-ins.
For example, I can use Any Searchable Field to search for files that have a certain number in them. Or I can search for all my images that have a certain keyword.
If I search for “culinary”, it will search for all of the keywords, captions, file paths, folders, virtual copies etc., for that word. I include the word culinary in all of my food photography. So by using filters, I can find all my food images quickly in Lightroom.
Lightroom gives you the option to filter your photos by flag status, edit staus, star rating, color label, or copy.
In the screenshot below, you can see that I searched for all of my photographs that I have rated as 5 stars. I give 5 stars to images upon export, when I have finished editing them. I assign them a color label as well. For example, red means that I have submitted the images to my stock portfolios.
You can also search your virtual copies and videos using Attribute, within the icons on the far right of the panel.
The middle icon is for Virtual Copy, while the far right icon is for Video.
Click again on Attribute if you no longer want to see the Attribute Bar.
Inputting metadata after each shoot can be a lot of work, but doing so makes it easy to locate your photos at a later date.
Your camera automatically embeds some metadata or any you’ve added manually say when you’ve set up Lightroom for tethered capture.
When you’re editing in Lightroom, it’s a good idea to put some keywords in the Keyword panel in the Library Module. This is something you need to do if you’re licensing your work for stock photography, but I recommend doing it regardless so that you can more easily search your photos.
For example, if you have input the word “strawberries” in your keyword metadata, you can find all the images that contain strawberries.
When you click on Metadata in the Library Filter bar, you can search using a wide range of criteria, including file type, and camera and exposure information. You can even find images you have not assigned your copyright status.
Lightroom also gives you the option to add more than one type of search criteria at a time.
For example, when I searched for images of strawberries, I also searched for shots taken with my Canon 5D Mark III, using my 24-70mm lens, as well as any shot with my 100mm macro. I also searched for flagged images, as I only wanted to see my top picks, not every single image of strawberries.
Note that if you want to search two types of photos, such as portraits and landscapes, be sure to choose them both in the first panel on the left. If you put it in the next panel, Lightroom will look for images that are both landscapes and portraits, rather than images that are landscapes or portraits.
Click on the first keyword then hold down the Ctrl (PC) or Command (Mac) key to select the second keyword. You can select multiple choices from the same column this way.
If you would like to do a different search or cancel that search, simply click on None in the Library Filter bar. When you do another search, Lightroom will remember the criteria you input for your last search.
To reset this, click on All, which is the first choice in the Filter panel.
As you can see, you can find your photos in Lightroom in various ways by using a plethora of criteria.
This is exciting news if you have been scrolling endlessly through your images to locate what you’re looking for, or you need a more organized approach to your workflow.