How to Use the Filter in Lightroom’s Library Module

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Once you enable the filter in Lightroom’s library module, you are able to search your images in three ways – text, attributes and metadata. To activate the filter bar, the keyboard shortcut is backslash (\). The filter bar will be activated and displayed on top of the workspace (see the screenshot below), only if you press the backslash key in the Library module. If you press the same backslash key in Develop, you will be see the before version of the selected image, provided you have made some corrections to your image.

Lightroom FilterBar None 01

Filter by text

The first option, Text mode allows you to search your images by the images’ text fields, from title, caption, keywords, searchable metadata, searchable IPTC, searchable EXIF, to any searchable plugin field. The field box comes as a drop down menu, where you can pick the text your search should be based upon.

Lightroom FilterBar Text 02

In the next box you can pick either one of the following parameters – contains all, contains, contains words, or doesn’t contain. You can select starts with or ends with as well. In the last box you can enter your text, the text which you want your search should be based upon.

Searchable Contains all

Filter by image attributes

The next option to filter is based upon the Image attributes. This section is further divided into flag status, ratings, color ratings and kind of file. In flag status, you can either pick flagged, unflagged, or rejected ones as well as a combination of two of those choices by clicking the flag symbols. Once you filter your images, the selected ones will be highlighted in white (use Ctrl/Cmd+A to select all).

Lightroom FilterBar Attribute 03

Filter by rating

Lightroom FilterBar Rating 03a

The next option in this section is star rating; you can filter photographs based on the number ratings you have applied to them. You can click the third star if you want to filter the photographs which have three stars exactly. You can also select less than or greater than by clicking the greater than symbol (>), where you will be prompted to select one of the following:

Greater than

Filter by color label

The next option in this section is filter by color label; you might have applied color labels based on your own methods of flagging images. For example green for web upload, red for yet to process, or something like that. Imagine you want to view only the red ones which you wish to process now. You can do that by clicking the red color box alone or you can add yellow along with it by clicking that box as well. In this way you can combine all the color labels, or only the ones you want. If one color label is selected, that particular box will be brighter than the other, which means it is active.

Color filter

Filter by kind of file

The last option in this sub-section is to filter by kind; which in this instance means the kind of file. In Lightroom you can have three kinds of files; master image files, virtual copies, and video files. If you want only the virtual copies you can select that particular icon alone. Like the other filters here, you can also combine more than one choice.

Filter by metadata

The most powerful option to filter your photographs is by metadata – the options are endless.

Lightroom FilterBar Metadata 04

You have the option to filter your photographs by all of the metadata in your files, you can get an idea by looking at the screenshot above. You can combine multiple metadata together to work for you by adding more filter columns. Click the right side of the title for an option to add more columns with other criteria. Click the filter title itself to change it to something else. In the screenshot, I have clicked the title Label; and you can see the pull-down menu of options that appeared.

Lightroom FilterBar Metadata 05

Miscellaneous other filtering tips

The filtered photographs based on your criteria will be instantly displayed on the below workspace. You can also combine multiple filter sections from Text to Attributes to Metadata or all together, the options are almost endless.

You can create presets if you have a particular way of filtering your photographs, provided you have managed your library in that way. Have you noticed the lock symbol on the right end of the filter bar? The drop down menu next to the lock symbol has an option to save your search as a preset, so next time you just have to select that preset. Easy right?

Save filter

The lock symbol at the right end of the filter bar will lock the filter criteria (if you click it) and the same filter can be applied to all your collections or folders one by one as you select the folders and collections.

Lightroom-FilterBar-Metadata-05a

I hope this article helps you work smarter with Lightroom and saves you lots of time and resources.

Cheers and happy photographing.

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Navan Viswa

is from India residing in Chennai now. He does weddings, products, industrial projects and travel photography. He studied as a Civil Engineer and worked as one for 12 years, found that the job not of interest and his passion was aligned towards photography. So he quit his job and is now roaming with his camera for commissioned and non-commissioned works. You can see more of his writings on his blog and more photographs on his web page as well as 500px.

  • Keith Starkey

    Yup,Lightroom filtering is great. Here’s a quick tip for filtering out images that have no keywords.
    In the LIbrary Module, set the Library Filter Text option to “Keyword” and select “None” from the list, which filters only images with no keyword. As you apply a keyword to an image, that image will be remove from the filter, since it now has a keyword.

    This is great for adding keywords to images that might have gotten left out of the keyword processing.

  • Navaneethan

    Great tip Keith. Cheers.

  • Ezhil

    Super Navanee!

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