Useful Ideas For Lightroom Filter Bar Searches

Lightroom Search Lesson #3: Useful Ideas For Lightroom Filter Bar Searches

In the last two lessons you learned how to use Library filters and the Filter bar in Lightroom’s Library module to search your photos. Now you know how to use the Filter bar, the question remains why should you use it and how can it help you?

It’s time to look at some useful and practical searches you can make with the Filter bar. The idea is to get you thinking creatively, demonstrate the potential of Library filters and encourage you to come up with some useful searches of your own.

If you’re not sure how the Filter bar works, then make sure you read the first two lessons in this series.

Lightroom Search Lesson #1: How To Find Photos In Lightroom With The Filter Bar

Lightroom Search Lesson #2: Advanced Ways To Use Lightroom Library Filters

1. Finding horizontal or vertical photos

This one is useful for me as I often need to find a photo in a specific orientation to fill a gap in an ebook. Likewise, I tend to use photos in the landscape format to illustrate online articles. This search may also come in handy if you are looking for photo to print in specific orientation or aspect ratio.

To make the search, go to Metadata and set the first column to Aspect Ratio. As well as the portrait and landscape formats it also brings up other aspect ratios you may have used, like the square format or panoramas.

Lightroom filter bar searches

Remember, you can refine the search further by adding rules to other columns, like Keywords, Camera or Focal Length.

2. Find photos without GPS data

Do you have a camera that adds GPS data to your photos? Or do you add GPS data using the Map module? In either case it’s useful to know which of your photos don’t have GPS data, so you can add it if you want to.

Lightroom filter bar searches

3. Hide rejects

This search may help you cull images faster as it automatically hides rejected images. You can speed things up even more by enabling Auto Advance (Photo > Auto Advance) so that Lightroom automatically displays the next photo when you hit any key.

Lightroom filter bar searches

4. Find Virtual Copies

Virtual Copies are very useful but it’s easy to lose track of them once you have created them. Here’s an easy way to find all Virtual Copies of any photo.

1. Make a note of the photo’s filename.
2. Go to the Catalog panel and click on All Photographs.
3. Click on Text in the Filter bar, set the search rules to Filename and Contains All and enter the name of the photo in the search box.
4. Click on Attribute and then the Virtual Copies icon on the right of the Filter bar. This search reveals all Virtual Copies of your photo.

The screenshot below shows the Virtual Copies for the photo with the filename IMG_1016.CR2.

Lightroom filter bar searches

The only problem with these search rules (as you can see) is that it includes other photos that your camera gave the same filename as it cycled back through its numbering sequence.

You can work around this by setting the Padlock icon to the locked position, right-clicking the correct photo and choosing Go to Folder in Library.

Lightroom filter bar searches

Provided you don’t have two photos sharing the same name in the same folder (unlikely), this limits the search to just the Virtual Copies you are looking for.

Lightroom filter bar searches

5. Find photos without Smart Previews

Building Smart Previews for your photos is good practice as it means you can develop them with the hard drive disconnected from your computer. Smart Previews also help the Develop module run faster (you can learn more about this in my article The Ultimate Guide to Smart Previews in Lightroom).

Lightroom takes time to build Smart Previews, so if you’d like to build them for your entire Catalog it’s probably best to do it in stages. It’s also helpful to know which photos don’t have Smart Previews. You can find them with the following search.

Lightroom filter bar searches

6. Find photos without keywords

If you keyword your photos then it’s helpful to know which photos, if any, haven’t had any keyword tags added to them. You can find them with the following search.

Lightroom filter bar searches

7. Find black and white photos

There’s also an easy way to find black and white photos in Lightroom. Click on Metadata in the Filter bar, set the first column to Treatment and click on Black & White.

Lightroom filter bar searches

This search only returns photos that you have converted to black and white in Lightroom. JPEG, TIFF or PSD files that you have converted to black and white in other software won’t show up. For those photos, the best thing to do is add a keyword tag like ‘black and white’. Make sure you apply the same keyword tag to all your black and white photos (for example, you don’t want to add ‘black and white’ to some photos, ‘B&W’ to others and ‘monochrome’ to still others as you’ll never remember which keyword tags you used).

Now you’re probably wondering if it’s possible to search for photos with Treatment set to Black & White or that have the keyword tag ‘black and white’ with a single search. The answer is no – we’ve just run up against one of the limitations of Library filters:

You can search for photos that have Treatment set to Black & White AND the keyword tag ‘black and white’.

But you can’t search for photos that have Treatment set to Black & White OR the keyword tag ‘black and white’.

There are a couple of solutions.

1. Perform two separate searches and add the photos returned by each one to a Collection you created especially for the results.

Tip: The Quick Collection is excellent for managing this type of double search.

a. Start by going to File > Clear Quick Collection to make sure there are no photos already in it.
b. Go to the Catalog panel, right-click on the Catalog panel and select Set as Target Collection from the menu.
c. Make your first search, then select all the photos returned by it and hit the ‘B’ key to add them to the Quick Collection.
d. Perform your second search and repeat.
e. Right-click on the Quick Collection in the Catalog panel and select Save Quick Collection. Lightroom prompts you to give the new Collection a name and then adds it to the Collections panel.

2. Create a Smart Collection. I’ll expand more on this in another lesson, but for those of you who are interested this is what a Smart Collection that contains all the photos in the Catalog that match the search rules looks like.

Lightroom filter bar searches

8. Find photos without an embedded copyright status

If you share photos anywhere online it’s a good idea to have your copyright status embedded in your photos. It’s easy to check if you have any photos in your Catalog without any copyright info.

Lightroom filter bar searches

There’s an easy way to add your copyright info to those photos that don’t have it, as long as you have already created a preset to apply your personal details to photos.

1. Press Cmd+A (PC: Ctrl+A) to select all the photos returned by the search.
2. Go to the Metadata panel in the right-hand panels.
3. Select your preset from the Presets menu at the top of the Metadata panel.
4. Click the All Selected button in the Apply Metadata Preset window that appears.

Of course, this assumes that all the photos in your Catalog were taken by you. If your Catalog contains photos taken by several photographers (a Catalog belonging to a photography studio is one example where this might happen) you might be better off creating a Smart Collection that returns all uncopyrighted photos belonging to a specific photographer, using a search rule like a keyword tag with the photographer’s name.

How to save searches as presets

Don’t forget that you can create presets from any of these searches to save them for future use. Just go to the preset menu in the Filter bar and select Save Current Settings as New Preset.

More on Smart Collections

I’ve mentioned Smart Collections several times during these lessons. In the next lesson we’ll explore the use of Smart Collections in more depth. I’ll add the link below when it’s published.

By the way, if you have found a use for Library filters not mentioned here, please feel free to mention it in the comments. I’d love to hear how you use them in Lightroom.

Lightroom search lessons

Here’s a list of all Lightroom search and keyword lessons published so far.

Lightroom Search Lesson #1: How To Find Photos In Lightroom With The Filter Bar

Lightroom Search Lesson #2: Advanced Ways To Use Lightroom Library Filters

Lightroom Search Lesson #3: Useful Ideas For Lightroom Filter Bar Searches

Lightroom Keywords Lesson #1: Nine Reasons To Use Keywords in Lightroom

Lightroom Keywords Lesson #2: How To Create Keyword Lists In Lightroom

Lightroom Keywords Lesson #3: How to Add Keywords in Lightroom

Lightroom Keywords Lesson #4: How To Use The Keyword List Panel In Lightroom

The next steps

If you’d like to learn more about Lightroom I suggest you sign up to my Introducing Lightroom free email course (see below).

You can also click here to see all our Lightroom tutorials.

Mastering Lightroom Book One: The Library Module (2nd edition).

My ebook Mastering Lightroom Book One: The Library Module introduces Lightroom and shows you how to use the Library module to import, organize and search your images. It covers everything you need to know in depth – I even show you how to use Lightroom mobile to view your photos! Click the link to learn more.

Mastering Lightroom: Book One – The Library Module

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 currently writes for The Creative Photographer and Digital Photography School. He is inspired by meeting new people, seeing new places and having new experiences.

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