Powerful Searching with Lightroom’s Library Filters

April 28th, 2010 by Rob Knight

"Flower Man" Savannah, GA


There are many ways to find your photos inside Lightroom. The Library Filter bar contains several tools that make finding specific images easier. You can apply these filters one at a time or in different combinations to see only the images you’re looking for. To apply multiple filters, command(cntrl) click on the filter names in the filter bar. This is a great way to find and organize your photos for creating collections, as filters can be applied to individual folders or your entire catalog.

To open the Library Filter bar, make sure you are in the Library Module and press the backslash () key. The Library Filters will drop down at the top of the grid window. It looks pretty unassuming at first, but let’s open the tabs and see what’s inside.


Here are the Library Filters with all of the tabs open. From top to bottom (and left to right in the bar): Text, Attribute and Metadata.

First on the list is ‘Text’. The graphic below shows all of the options expanded for the Text filter. This filter seems simple, but there are a lot of options that allow you to get very specific results.

Text filter with its options expanded

Next is the ‘Attribute’ filter. This filter is not as self-explanatory as the Text filter, but it makes sense when you open it. Here you can filter your results by pick flag, star rating, color label or copy status. If you click on the ‘≥’ before the stars you can change this setting from “greater than or equal to” to “less than or equal to” or “equal to”. I use pick flags, star ratings and color labels in my regular workflow, and these filters come in handy for me. Copy status allows you to view original photos or virtual copies separately.

The last filter is ‘Metadata’. This is probably the most powerful of the Library Filters because it allows for so much customization. You can search for everything from EXIF data to upload status. You can add or remove a column from the filter using the drop-down menu in the top right corner of a column. Change the metadata category using the menu in the top left corner of the column. You can select multiple entries in one column by command(cntrl) clicking on multiple categories.

Metadata Filter

Lightroom includes Custom Filter presets like “Flagged”, “Rated” and a few others, but you can add your own to streamline your searching and organization.  Create a search or filter you would like to save, then choose “Save current settings as new preset” in the Custom Filter menu at the right side of the filter bar. You can apply filter presets from the Custom Filter menu, or from the drop-down menu on the right side of the filmstrip.

“Flower Man” photo shot with a Nikon D300s and an 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens. Black and White conversion made with Nik Software Silver Effects Pro.

Read more about Rob Knight at his website, and learn about Rob's workshops at Edge of the World Workshops.



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