As I often mention, keywords are essential to having an efficient and easy-to-use catalog. Fortunately, Lightroom offers multiples ways to tackle that task; you just have to find the one that is best adapted to your workflow.
You can assign keywords to new pictures in the Apply During Import section of the import window. Be sure to write only keywords that apply to all of the images to be imported.
In the library’s Keywording panel, the first section is called Keyword Tags. Write the new keywords in the bottom field. You can add them one by one or multiple at once, separating them by a comma or semi-colon. If Enter Keywords is selected from the dropdown list, you can simply write the keywords in the top field.
Below the keyword tags are the Keyword Suggestions, which is a list of 9 keywords generated automatically by Lightroom, based on the most recent ones and those that are used often. Just click on a keyword to add it to the selected picture(s).
The last section of the Keywording panel is called Keyword Set. Just as with the suggestions, those sets are groups of 9 keywords, but those sets can be created by the user, and are selected from the dropdown list. Lightroom included 3 presets for outdoor, portrait and wedding photography; they can be used “as is” or customized.
There is also a set with the 9 most recent keywords.
Besides clicking on the keywords, you can also add them to the selected photo(s) by pressing the Alt key (Option on Mac) and a number from 1 to 9; the number corresponding to each keyword is shown at its left when Alt is pressed.
When you assign keywords (or import pictures
that already contain keywords), the Keyword
List will populate itself with those new words. It is also possible to add
keywords by clicking on the + icon on the left of the panel’s name.
Use the checkboxes next to those keywords to add or remove them from the
To assign a value to the Keyword Shortcut (Shift+K or Shift+K on Mac), right-click on a keyword in the Keyword List and then select Use this as Keyword Shortcut. You can also use the menu Metadata > Set Keyword Shortcut… and then manually enter one or more keywords, separated by a comma or semi-colon.
Click on the corresponding icon () in the toolbar to open the Painter tool and display the available options, then select Keywords from the dropdown list and enter one or more keywords (separated by a comma or semi-colon). Click on the thumbnails to “paint” the keywords.
To deactivate it, click once again on the Painter icon (now just an empty circle) or press the Esc key.
Metadata Presets are a quick way to add a lot of information to your pictures at once, including location, copyright information and, you guessed it, keywords. Too specific presets can’t be used very often, so they might defeat the preset’s purpose, which is to save time. However, when you take lots of pictures in the same settings (museum, beach, weddings, football game, etc…), having presets with the metadata and keywords that are common to all those pictures is really convenient. For instance, use the keywords “beach”, “sand” and “sea” in your preset and use another method to add the names of the people who appear in the pictures.
Metadata presets can be applied during the import or later, from the library.
Do you know other ways to add keywords? What is your favorite method?
This post is based on Lightroom 4.1; the described interface and functions may be different in other versions.