How To Use The Keyword List Panel In Lightroom

Lightroom Keywords Lesson #4: How to Use the Keyword List Panel in Lightroom

So far in these keyword lessons we have looked at how keywords can help you search photos, how to decide which keywords to use and how to add them to your photos. If you’ve missed any of these lessons you can catch up using the links at the bottom. Today we’re going to take a closer look at Lightroom’s Keyword List panel. If you’re into keywording you’re going to love this panel (seriously).

The Keyword List panel

The Keyword List panel lists all the keywords that you have added to photos in your Lightroom Catalog, or created using the Keyword List panel.

If you want to see all the photos tagged with a specific keyword together, hover over the keyword and click on the white arrow that appears on the right-hand side. Lightroom automatically opens a Filter Bar search that displays them in Grid View (there’s more on searching for keywords in the Filter bar below).

Keyword List panel Lightroom

Incidentally, the plus sign next to the word flowers in the Keyword Lists panel indicates that it is in the list of keywords currently applied by the Painter tool. The numbers on the right tell you how many photos in the Catalog (not the current selection) contain that keyword.

When you move the mouse over a keyword you’ll see a tick box on the left.

Keyword List panel Lightroom

If the keyword has been applied to all the selected photos you’ll see a tick.

Keyword List panel Lightroom

If it has been applied to some of the selected photos you’ll see a dash.

Keyword List panel Lightroom

You can add or remove a keyword to the currently selected photo or photos by clicking the tick box.

Filtering keywords

You can filter keywords by typing a search term into the Filter Keywords at the top of the Keyword List panel. You can also filter keywords by clicking on the People or Other headings underneath.

Keyword List panel Lightroom

Create a new keyword

Adding a keyword to a photo using the techniques explored so far is one way of creating a new keyword. But Lightroom also gives you another way that gives you a higher level of control. This method is more for serious keyworders, like photographers who submit photos to stock libraries.

Start by clicking the Plus icon in the top left of the Keyword Lists panel. This opens the Create Keyword Tag window. In the screenshot below I’ve already added the keyword car and the synonyms vehicle and automobile.

Keyword List panel Lightroom

Let’s take a look at the options in the Create Keyword Tag window.

Keyword Name: This is the keyword itself.

Synonyms: Words with the same meaning as the keyword. I suggest you only fill in this field if you are creating keywords for public use, to help people search for your photos in a photo stock library or photo sharing website. If you are creating keywords for personal use, you should use a controlled vocabulary instead. In this example, that would mean adding the keyword car to all photos containing cars, and not an alternative like vehicle or automobile.

Include on Export: Tick this box to include the keyword in the photo’s metadata when it’s exported.

Export Containing Keywords: This is covered in a future lesson on hierarchical keywords.

Export Synonyms: Tick this box to include the synonyms in the photo’s metadata when it’s exported.

Person: Tick this box to let Lightroom know it’s the name of the person. The keyword appears under the People tab in the Keyword List panel.

Add to Selected Photos: Add the keyword to the currently selected photo or photos.

Don’t forget to click the Create button to create the new keyword!

How to edit and delete keywords

You can edit any keyword by right-clicking on it and selecting Edit Keyword Tag.

You can delete a keyword by right-clicking and selecting Delete. This removes the keyword from Lightroom and all the photos that it has been added to.

How to find and delete unused keywords

Creating keyword lists is a process of trial and error as you figure out a system that works for you. As a result, it’s possible that there are keywords in the Keyword List panel that haven’t been added to any photos yet. You’’ll recognize them by the zero in the right-hand column that indicates the number of photos in the Catalog that contain that keyword.

Unused keywords are not necessarily a problem and may come in useful in the future. But if you want to remove them from the Keyword List panel just go to Metadata > Purge Unused Keywords.

Keyword List panel Lightroom

Export a new Catalog

You can export all photos tagged with a specific keyword as a new Catalog. Right-click on the keyword in the Keyword List panel and select the Export these Photos as a Catalog option (below). This is for advanced Lightroom users only. For example, a wedding photographer might find it useful to import photos into a master Catalog, then create a new Catalog for each client using keywords as an easy way to mark those photos.

Keyword List panel Lightroom

The Keywording panel and synonyms

Let’s go back to the Keywording panel because there’s a feature there that I haven’t shown you yet. Let’s say you have just added the keyword car that we created above to a photo. When the Keyword Tags menu is set to Enter Keywords (the default setting) it displays the keyword just added (car) in the field below.

But if you change the menu setting to Will Export Lightroom displays the synonyms we created as well (as long as you tick the Export Synonyms box when creating the keyword). The Keyword Tags field is locked so you can’t add any extra keywords.

Keyword List panel Lightroom

Keywords and the Filter Bar

Keywords are one of the parameters you can use in Lightroom to search photos (you can learn more about search in our Lightroom Search Lessons – see the links at the bottom of this lesson).

As we learned earlier, clicking on the white arrow next to a keyword in the Keyword List panel activates a Filter Bar search that displays every photo in your Catalog that contains that keyword.

But what if you want to search a specific Collection, Smart Collection, Collection Set or Folder? The easiest way is to select the source you want to search, then go Go to the Filter Bar (press the ‘\’ key if you don’t see it) in Grid View and click on the Metadata label. Select Keyword from the drop-down menu in the first column. Lightroom displays a list of all the keywords added to photos in the currently selected source. When you click on a keyword Lightroom displays all the photos tagged with that keyword in the content window below. The option None is also displayed if there are photos in the selection which haven’t been tagged with any keywords.

Keyword List panel Lightroom

Another way of searching photo photos with specific keywords in the Filter Bar is to click on Text, set the Text menus to Keywords and Contain All and enter the keyword in the search field. Unlike the previous method there’s no way to see which keywords have been added to the photos you are searching.

Keyword List panel Lightroom

Keywords and Smart Collections

Searches carried out in the Filter Bar are temporary and the results disappear when you change the search conditions. So are searches initiated by clicking on the white arrow next to a keyword in the Keyword List panel.

Smart Collections, on the other hand, are permanent and remain listed in the Collections panel for as long as you want.

Go to the Collections panel, click on the ‘+’ icon in the top-right corner and select the Create Smart Collection option. Set Match to All, select Other Metadata > Keywords from the drop-down menu in the first column and then type the required keyword in the blank space provided. Click the Create button to finish the process.

Keyword List panel Lightroom

The example shows a very simple Smart Collection that would contain all photos tagged with the keyword flowers in your Catalog (in other words, not limited to certain Folders or Collections). You can refine the search by adding extra rules.

You can even create a Smart Collection that shows you photos that don’t have keywords. The rule is shown below. Again, you can add extra rules to refine the search.

Keyword List panel Lightroom

Further reading

About Andrew S. Gibson

Andrew S. Gibson is a writer, publisher, traveler, workshop leader and photographer based in the UK. He started writing about photography while traveling in Bolivia, and has been published in many prestigious photography magazines including EOS magazine, where he worked as a Writer and Technical Editor for two years. He is inspired by meeting new people, seeing new places and having new experiences. Check out his photography ebooks here.

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