Use Adobe Lightroom to organise images

We explore the options for tagging, sorting and filtering your photos in this popular Adobe app

We are all guilty of snapping away at every opportunity, which can lead to hundreds or even thousands of images on our computers waiting to be sorted. It’s a laborious task at the best of times, but luckily there are software programs that can help you out.

Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom software was originally conceived to be a pure photo-management application, helping you to organise large collections of images. It has progressed massively since then, and now includes editing functions as well as multiple sharing and output options. But here we’re going back to basics and taking a look at how you can use it to manage your pictures.

We are using the public beta of Lightroom 5, which you can download for free from technologies/lightroom5. This will stop working once the full version of the software is available (which will be shortly after the publication of this issue). They are usually very similar, though, so you’ll still be able to use this guide if you get the full version instead. You can also follow the principles of this tutorial with older versions.

Here, we’ll show you how to sort your pictures into albums, add ratings, flags and colours, and create useful tags. It may take some time to sort out, but we promise it’s worth it.

Organise your photos. Sort, rate, tag and filter your snaps.

01 Import your photos

Open Lightroom and navigate to the Import button in the bottom left. This will bring up the Import window. Use the file browser to find the folder containing the photos you want to organise, before selecting Import in the bottom right.

02 Create Collections

The best way to organise your shots is to create Collections. These are like albums but are only viewable in Lightroom, so do not affect your hard drive. Select the photos you want to include, then go to the ‘+’ button and select Create Collection.

03 Keyword the shots

Once you have named your Collection, a window will appear with your chosen photos in it. You can now add keywords to help you identify what is in each photo. Use the Keyword Tags box in the Keywording panel to add text, using commas to separate words.

04 Use flags and colours

There are lots of other ways to sort your photos. You can Flag photos or reject them, helping you to filter the good from the bad. You can also allocate colours to photos, which is good for visually sorting images; for example, by key colour in the picture.

05 Add ratings

You can add a rating out of five to your images by clicking on the stars beneath the picture’s thumbnail. You can then choose to only view images with a rating or four or more, for example, to help you single out just the very best shots.

06 Sort them all

You can now continue doing this for your entire collection. To speed things up, keywords that you have entered before are viewable in the Keyword Suggestions and Keyword Set panels, so you can click on them to reuse them for future pictures.

07 Filter pictures

In the main window of Lightroom, you can see the Library Filter along the top. If you choose Text, you can enter a search term to see photos with keywords that match that word. You can also filter by Attribute, which includes flags, colours and ratings.

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