Keywords are customer-added image metadata that describes the contents of a photo. They help you identify, search for, and find photos in the catalog. Once applied to photos, keywords can be read by Adobe applications such as Adobe Bridge, Photoshop, or Photoshop Elements, or other applications that support XMP metadata.

Lightroom provides several ways to apply keywords to photos. You can type or select them in the Keywording panel, or drag photos to specific keywords in the Keyword List panel.

In the Grid view, photos with keywords display a thumbnail badge . All keywords in the catalog are viewed in the Keyword List panel. You can add, edit, rename, or delete keywords at any time. When creating or editing keywords, you can specify synonyms and export options. Synonyms are related terms for keywords. When you select photos that contain keywords with synonyms, the synonyms appear in the Keywording panel when Keyword > Will Export is selected.

Keywords can contain other, nested keywords. For example, the keyword animals might contain the keywords dogs and cats. The keyword dogs, in turn, might contain Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, and so on.

Also, you can organize keywords into groups called keyword sets. By choosing a specific keyword set, relevant keywords are more accessible. This is especially useful as you add more keywords to the catalog.

For more about creating and using keywords, watch the following video tutorial.

Video tutorial: Keyword overview

Video tutorial: Keyword overview
Infinite Skills

View keywords

All keywords are located in the Keyword List panel. Each keyword displays the number of photos containing it.

  • In the Library module, do any of the following:
    • To view the keywords in the catalog, expand the Keyword List panel.

    • To view keywords for one photo, select it in the Grid view or in the Filmstrip in Loupe, Compare, or Survey view and look in the Keywords area of the Keywording panel. Or look at the Keyword List panel: A check mark to the left of a keyword in the Keyword List panel indicates that the selected photo contains that tag.

    • To view keywords for more than one photo, select the photos in the Grid view and look in the Keywords area of the Keywording panel. An asterisk appears to next to the keywords not shared by all the selected photos. In the Keyword List panel, a minus sign to the left of a keyword indicates the tag is not shared by all selected photos.

Create keywords

  1. With one or more photos selected in the Grid view, or with a single photo selected in the Filmstrip in Loupe, Compare, or Survey view, do any of the following:
    • Type in the field labeled Click Here To Add Keywords in the Keyword area of the Keywording panel. Then, press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS). Skip the rest of the steps in this procedure.

    • Click the Plus icon (+) in the Keyword List panel.

    Note:

    Commas, semicolons, and pipes ( | ) are not allowed in keywords, as they are used to delimit keyword lists. Keywords cannot end with an asterisk ( * ). Keywords and synonyms cannot start or end with a space or tab character.

  2. In the Create Keyword dialog box, type a name for the keyword.

  3. Type synonyms for the keyword. Use commas to separate the synonyms.

  4. Select any of the following options:

    Put Inside “[keyword]”

    (Available if an existing keyword is selected when you create a keyword) Nests the new keyword under the selected keyword so that it is contained by the higher-level keyword.

    Add To Selected Photos

    Applies the keyword to the selected photos.

    Include On Export

    Includes the keyword when exporting photos. When this option is deselected, the keyword is not included.

    Export Containing Keywords

    Includes higher-level keywords that contain the keyword when exporting photos.

    Export Synonyms

    Includes synonyms associated with the keyword when exporting photos.

If more than one photo is selected in Loupe, Compare, or Survey view, keywords are added only to the active photo.

Note:

To automatically nest new keywords under a particular higher-level tag, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the higher-level tag in the Keyword List panel and choose Put New Keywords Inside This Keyword. A dot appears next to the parent keyword, and all new tags become children to that keyword until you deselect the option in the context menu.

Edit keywords

  1. In the Library module, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) a keyword in the Keyword List panel, and choose Edit Keyword Tag from the menu.

  2. In the Edit Keyword Tag dialog box, type any changes to the keyword name, add synonyms, or set any of the following keyword options:

    Include On Export

    Includes the keyword when exporting photos. When this option is deselected, the keyword is not included.

    Export Containing Keywords

    Includes higher-level keywords that contain the keyword when exporting photos.

    Export Synonyms

    Includes synonyms associated with the keyword when exporting photos.

Rename keywords

  1. In the Library module, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) a keyword in the Keyword List panel, and choose Edit Keyword Tag from the menu.

  2. In the Edit Keyword Tag dialog box, rename the keyword and click Save.

Add keywords to photos

The Keywording panel of the Library module lets you add keywords to photos by either typing a new keyword or applying keywords from a keyword set. You can also add keywords to photos by dragging photos to keywords in the Keyword List panel. And you can apply keywords to photos using the Painter tool. See Add or remove keywords using the Painter tool.

When you add keywords to photos, the changes are stored in Lightroom, but the keywords aren’t saved to the files unless the Automatically Write Changes Into XMP option is selected in the Catalog Settings dialog box. To save the keywords to the files manually, choose Metadata > Save Metadata To File.

  1. To apply keywords to more than one photo at a time, select them in the Grid view. Or, select a single photo in the Filmstrip in Loupe, Compare, or Survey view.

    Note:

    If more than one photo is selected in the Filmstrip in Loupe, Compare, or Survey view, the keywords will be added only to the active photo.

  2. Do any of the following:
    • Type keywords in the field labeled Click Here To Add Keywords in the Keywords area of the Keywording panel. Separate keywords using commas.

    • Click a keyword in the Keyword Suggestions area of the Keywording panel. Keyword suggestions are based on a variety of criteria, including existing keywords applied to the selected photo and to other photos captured within a relatively close period of time.

    • Click a keyword from a keyword set in the Keyword Set area of the Keywording panel.

    • Click the target box to the left of a keyword in the Keyword List panel. A check mark indicates the selected photo contains that keyword.

    • (Grid view only) Drag selected photos to keywords in the Keyword List panel. Or, drag a keyword from the Keyword List panel to the selected photos.

    Note:

    You can also add keywords to photos as they are imported into Lightroom.

When keywords are added to photos, the Keyword List panel updates to reflect the total number of photos that use the tag.

Copy and paste keywords

  1. In the Grid view, select the photo with the keywords you want to copy.

  2. In the applied tags area of the Keywording panel, select the keywords. Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) and choose Copy.

  3. Select the photos in the Grid view to which you want to add keywords.

  4. Click in the applied tags area of the Keywording panel and the right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) and choose Paste.

Remove or delete keywords from photos or the catalog

  • With one or more photos selected in the Grid view, or with one photo selected in the Filmstrip in Loupe, Compare, or Survey view, do any of the following:
    • To remove keywords from photos, choose Keyword Tags > Enter Keywords in the Keywording panel. Then, select one or more keywords in the text box in the panel and delete them. If more than one photo is selected in the Filmstrip in Loupe, Compare, or Survey view, the keywords are removed only from the active photo.

    • To permanently delete a keyword from photos and the catalog, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the keyword in the Keyword List panel and choose Delete from the menu. You can also select keywords and click the Minus icon (-) at the top of the Keyword List panel.

      Note: If you accidentally delete keywords, immediately press Ctrl+Z (Windows) or Command+Z (Mac OS) to undo the deletion.

    • To automatically delete any unused keywords from the catalog, choose Metadata > Purge Unused Keywords.

      Note: Deleting keywords using the Purge Unused Keywords command cannot be undone.

When you remove keywords from photos, the Keyword List panel updates to reflect the total number of photos that use the tag.

Import and export keywords

Importing and exporting keywords lets you share the keywords you created to identify photos. For example, keywords can be exported from one catalog and imported into another catalog on the same or a different computer. You can also import keywords from other applications, such as Adobe Bridge 2.1. Lightroom imports keyword lists saved as plain-text files. If the list contains special characters, the list must be tab-delimited and saved in UTF-8 format.

Exporting keywords writes the keywords to a text file. When you create or edit keywords, you can specify whether to include them during the export. When you import keywords from a text file, they become keywords in the catalog and appear in the Keyword List panel.

  • In the Library module, do any of the following:
    • To import keywords into the catalog, choose Metadata > Import Keywords, navigate to and select the text file or catalog file containing keywords, and then click Open (Windows) or Choose (Mac OS).

    • To export all exportable keywords from the catalog, choose Metadata > Export keywords, select a location for the keywords file, and then click Save.

Create and apply keyword shortcuts

Keyword shortcuts let you quickly apply one or more keywords to multiple photos. After you define the shortcut, you apply it using the Add Keyword command in the context menu, or by using the Painter tool. See Add or remove keywords using the Painter tool.

  1. In the Library module, do one of the following:
    • Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) one keyword in the Keyword List panel and choose Use This As Keyword Shortcut from the menu. Skip step 2.

    • Choose Metadata > Set Keyword Shortcut.

  2. In the Set Keyword Shortcut dialog box, type one or more keywords, separating them with commas, and then click Set.

    Note:

    Lightroom provides hints as you type. To choose a keyword hint, click it in the pop-up list.

    A Plus sign (+) next to a keyword in the Keyword List panel indicates that it is part of the current keyword shortcut.

  3. To apply the keyword shortcut, select one or more photos in the Grid view or the Filmstrip, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS), and choose Add Keyword [Name Of Keyword].

Add or remove keywords using the Painter tool

Once you’ve specified the keywords for the keyword shortcut, you can quickly apply the keyword shortcut to photos using the Painter tool.

Note:

If the Painter tool does not appear in the toolbar, choose Painter from the toolbar menu.

  1. In the Library module, do one of the following:
    • Choose Metadata > Enable Painting.

    • In the Grid view, click the Painter tool icon in the toolbar.

    When the Painter tool is enabled, the pointer becomes a painter icon and the Painter icon is no longer visible in the toolbar.

  2. If necessary, choose Keywords from the Paint menu in the toolbar.
  3. If necessary, type the keyword or keywords you want to add or remove in the toolbar field.
  4. Do any of the following:
    • To apply a keyword shortcut to a single photo, click the photo using the Painter tool.

    • To apply a keyword shortcut to multiple photos, click and drag across the photos in the Grid view.

    • To remove a keyword shortcut, press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) to change the Painter tool to an eraser. Click the photo again, or click and drag across multiple photos, with the eraser.

      Tip: Filter the photos in Grid view by clicking the white arrow at the far right of the keyword in the Keyword List panel so that only the photos containing the keywords you want to remove are displayed.

  5. To disable the Painter, click the circular well in the toolbar. When disabled, the Painter icon is visible in the toolbar.

Quickly assign keywords from keyword sets

While assigning keywords using the Painter tool, you can now quickly assign multiple keywords from convenient keywords sets.

Do the following:

  1. In the Library module, select one or more photos. Ctrl/Cmd+click to select multiple photos.
  2. Click the Painter tool () and then press the Shift key. A keyword assignment dialog box is displayed.
Lightroom Quick keyword assignment dialog
Quick keyword assignment dialog

  1. Select a keyword set from the pop up menu.
Lightroom Keyword sets
Keyword sets

  1. Select one or more keywords from the keyword set. Click Select All if necessary.
  2. If necessary, select a different keyword set from the pop up menu. Select additional keywords from it.
  3. Hover the Painter tool pointer over the selected photos and click them. The keywords you selected are assigned to the photos.
  4. If necessary, assign the keywords to additional photos by moving the pointer and clicking them.
    Press Esc to exit the paint mode.

Video tutorial: Copying Keywords with the Spray Can

Video tutorial: Copying Keywords with the Spray Can
Infinite Skills

Keyword sets

As you add increasing numbers of keywords to the catalog, it’s important to create keyword sets so you can easily access relevant keywords. For example, you can create keyword sets of up to nine keywords for certain events, locations, people, or assignments. Keyword sets do not change how keywords are written to the photo’s metadata. They simply provide different ways to organize keywords. Keywords can belong to more than one keyword set.

Create keyword sets

  • In the Library module, do any of the following:
    • To convert the Recent Keywords set into a saved keyword set, click the Keyword Set pop-up menu in the Keywording panel and choose Save Current Settings As New Preset. Type a name for the keyword set and click Create.

    • To include specific keywords in a keyword set, make sure that a keyword set is chosen in the Keywording panel. Then, either choose Keyword Set > Edit Set in the Keywording panel or choose Metadata > Keyword Set > Edit. Type or overwrite keywords in the text boxes, and choose Save Current Settings As New Preset from the Preset menu. In the New Preset dialog box, type a name for the keyword set and click Create.

Choose keyword sets

  • In the Keywording panel of the Library module, choose a keyword set from the Keyword Set pop-up menu:

    Recent Keywords

    Displays the most recently used keywords.

    Outdoor Photography

    Displays keywords associated with nature photography.

    Portrait Photography

    Displays keywords associated with portrait photography.

    Wedding Photography

    Displays keywords associated with wedding photography.

Edit keyword sets

  1. In the Library module, choose Edit Set from the Keyword Set pop-up menu in the Keywording panel.
  2. In the Edit Keyword Set dialog box, type keywords in the text boxes. Overwrite or select and delete keywords that you don’t want to include in the keyword set.

  3. (Optional) To create a keyword set, choose Save Current Settings As New Preset from the Preset menu. Then, in the New Preset dialog box, type a name for the keyword set and click Create.
  4. Click Change to update the keyword sets.

Rename or delete keyword sets

  1. In the Library module, choose Edit Set from the Keyword Set pop-up menu in the Keywording panel.

    Note:

    The Edit option isn’t visible if Recent Keywords is chosen in the Set pop-up menu.

  2. In the Edit Keyword Set dialog box, choose the keyword set from the Preset menu.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • To rename the keyword set, choose Rename Preset “Name Of Keyword Set” from the Preset menu.

    • To delete the keyword set, choose Delete Preset “Name Of Keyword Set” from the Preset menu.

Check and correct keyword spelling (Mac OS)

When you check the spelling of keywords, Lightroom questions any words that aren’t in its dictionary. If a questioned word is spelled correctly, you can confirm its spelling by adding the word to the dictionary. If a questioned word is misspelled, you can correct it.

Note:

These instructions are for Mac OS X v. 10.6. Spell-check commands and options in other versions of Mac OS X may vary.

  1. In the Library module, click in the Keywords text box of the Keywording panel.

  2. Choose Edit > Spelling > Show Spelling And Grammar.
  3. (Optional) Choose a language from the pop-up menu in the Spelling and Grammar dialog box. This is the language for the dictionary Lightroom uses to check spelling.
  4. As Lightroom finds unfamiliar words and other possible errors, click one of the following:

    Ignore

    Continues the spelling check without changing the text.

    Learn

    Stores the unrecognized word in the dictionary, so that subsequent occurrences are not flagged as misspellings.

    Define

    Looks up the word in the dictionary.

    Guess

    Suggests possible corrections for the word.

    Find Next

    Continues the spelling search.

    Change

    Corrects a misspelling. Make sure that the correctly spelled word is in the text box and click Change.

Highlight misspelled words (Mac OS)

  1. After entering keywords in the Library module, click in the Keywords text box of the Keywording panel.

  2. Choose Edit > Spelling > Check Spelling.

    The first misspelled word in the text box is highlighted.

  3. Control-click the highlighted word and choose one of the following:

    Suggested spelling corrections

    Lightroom lists suggested spelling corrections at the top of the context menu. Choose a word to correct the spelling.

    Ignore Spelling

    Continues the spelling check without changing the text.

    Learn Spelling

    Stores the unrecognized word in the dictionary, so that subsequent occurrences are not flagged as misspellings.

    Note:

    You can also choose Spelling And Grammar > Show Spelling And Grammar from the context menu to open a dialog box for more options.

Check spelling as you type (Mac OS)

Lightroom can automatically check the spelling as you type keywords. When you misspell a word, it’s underlined.

  1. In the Library module, click the Keywords text box of the Keywording panel.

  2. Choose Edit > Spelling > Check Spelling While Typing.

Type special characters (Mac OS)

  • In the Library module, choose Edit > Special Characters.

    For more information on creating special characters, consult the Mac OS Help.

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