Lightroom and Keywords Part II

by Johann Gudbjargarson

As keywords are a very important feature to manage pictures in Lightroom, it is essential to come up with a workflow one is comfortable with to register keywords for images. It takes time and effort to record keywords for all pictures, but I think it's worth it in the long run.

Assigning keywords in Lightroom

Lightroom offers a few methods of making this work smoothly, and here I will try to list them:

  1. Import Photos dialogue: The Import Photos dialogue has a keywords field which is very helpful to register keywords to all the pictures at the same time as they are imported . This applies to pictures that share the same characteristics and can have the same keyword(s).

  2. Add keyword: Click the plus sign in the Keyword Tags panel on the left part of the screen. A Create keyword Tag dialogue pops up where a new keyword is entered and if Include selected photos is checked all selected photos in the library are tagged with the new keyword.

  3. Drag keyword to picture(s): A keyword can be dragged from the Keyword Tags list to a picture and if multiple images are selected then all of them will be tagged with that keyword.

  4. Drag picture(s) to keyword: The same method as in three but the other way around; pictures are dragged to a keyword in the Keyword Tags list to tag them.

  5. Right clicking a keyword: Right clicking a keyword in the Keyword Tags list and clicking Assign this keyword to selected photos.

  6. Keyword stamper: Keyword stamper is located in the toolbar in Library module when in Grid mode (press G to go to grid mode and press T if toolbar is not visible). If the stamp tool is not in the toolbar then select the pull down menu on the rightmost site of the toolbar and select Keyword. Now write in Keyword(s) in the keyword stamp field (separate keywords with comma) and press the Keyword Stamper to enable the stamp tool. Now, when pictures in the grid are clicked with the stamp the keywords entered in the stamp field are tagged to the photo. It is also possible to use the Menu|Metadata to assign the keywords and go into stamp mode with the Set keyword shortcut ... and Enable keyword stamping menu elements.

  7. Write keywords: This is probably the most flexible method of tagging pictures with keywords: Select one or more pictures and write in the Keywording field (on the right side panel) the keywords separated by commas. If you enter a new keyword it is automatically registered in the keyword list.

  8. Keyword sets: A keyword sets is a convenient way to group relevant keyword tags for quick access. I will talk more about keywords sets next week.

  9. Use external program: As keywords are stored in a standard way in the pictures themselves or sidecar files with the pictures it is possible to register the keywords outside Lightroom with other programs like Bridge, iView Media Pro etc. and when the pictures are imported in Lightroom the keywords from the other programs will be populated there.


It is obvious that the Lightroom engineers have put a lot of effort in making Keywords as flexible as possible with many different ways to tag pictures. Using some of the methods above should enable most photographers to come up with a good workflow in registering keywords for images.

Next week I will talk about Keyword sets.


2007-04-10 09:39:41
I have obviously overlooked a couple of keyword features. Must look again 2nite!
Kim Guerrette
2007-04-10 14:01:44
"As keywords are stored in a standard way in the pictures themselves or sidecar files with the pictures [...]"

How does LR store keywords (sidecar or in the pictures)? Does it depend of file type?

2007-04-10 15:17:49
Hello Kim.

Yes you are correct that keywords are stored dependent of file type. The keywords along with other metadata are stored in XMP record within the file itself if it is supported (DNG, JPG, TIF etc.) but in a sidecar files for proprietary camera raw files). In the settings of Lightroom the Automatically write changes into XMP has to be checked so it is written into the file.
All data within Lightroom is also stored in the Lightroom Database which is a central file containing information about all pictures within Lightroom.

Johann Gudbjargarson

2007-04-10 16:44:45
I have a problem with keywords.

If I have used a keyword, for example "Holidays", and I write down for a new photo the keyword "holidays", the LR recognize that "holidays"="Holidays" and change the new keyword to "Holidays".
This is fantastic!!!
But, If I have created child keywords (nested) and I have the Keyword "Summer" under "Holidays" and I write down for a new photo the Keyword "summer", the LR create a new keyword "summer" at the same level that "Holidays". So I have to diferents Keywords.

+ Holidays
---+ Summer
+ summer

/// I hope that someone can understand me !!

Perhaps this is a bug program and will be fixed in a future version!!!


Johann Gudbjargarson
2007-04-12 06:00:36
Hello Waldo.

It seems that the keywords when entered are case sensitive - so if you would write Summer (instead of summer) it would not create a new keyword in the list. When you enter summer it should suggest the previously entered keyword with caps so it shouldn't be a problem.


2007-04-12 14:29:25
LR suggest the previously entered keyword with caps if the keyword is in the Top of the hierarchy.

But if the Keyword is a child keyword, LR create a new one.


2007-04-24 09:59:37
I have created about 100 keywords I found from an image hosting site. These keywords are in a hierarchy at the moment.
My question is that when I want to add multiple keywords to a photo I can't click on the keywords without them thinking they are filtering. The photo dissapears. It would prefer not to type them in in case I miss some (like location for instance). So if I just highlight all the keywords from the differnt categories, how can I place them on the photo if it dissapears as soon as you click on the keywords? Does this make sense at all?

I'm sorry this is so complicated. I've been reading up on all of this information and trying to figure out how to use the program at the same time.

2007-11-01 11:50:18
how can I stop the keywords going into alphabetical order? I really want the words to stay in the order entered just so they make more sense when looking at the them? this would be a great help if there is a way around this???