Filtering for an Absent Keyword

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Today’s Question: Suppose you have a folder named “tigers” and in this folder you have identified some of the images as “mom”, “dad”, “son”.  But you also have some that were simply tagged “tigers” without further classifying and now you want to go back to put them in mom, dad, or son. Is there any way to sort the tigers folder for the images that are NOT mom, dad, son? Otherwise, you have to go back through the entire folder watching the keyword list and stop when you don’t see mom, dad, or son, which would be very tedious.

Tim’s Quick Answer: In this case you could simply filter the images based on a text filter based on the “Don’t Contain” option for Keywords, entering “mom, dad, son” into the search field. If you want to further filter the images so you are only seeing those with the “tiger” keyword but without the “mom”, “dad”, or “son” keywords, you can use the Keyword option with the Metadata filter to specify that you want to see images that include “tiger” as a keyword.

More Detail: The filtering options within Lightroom are surprisingly sophisticated, though the many possibilities for locating images aren’t necessarily all that obvious. In this case a combination of filtering by a keyword and also filtering by the absence of several keywords will provide the desired solution.

In the Library module you can display the Library Filter bar (if it isn’t already displayed) by choosing View > Show Filter Bar from the menu or by pressing the backslash key (\) on the keyboard. Be sure you have navigated to the folder that contains the images you want to filter, and then set your filter criteria.

To filter the images to show those that do not have certain keywords added, you can use the “Don’t Contain” option. Click the Text header to bring up the text filter fields, and set the first popup to “Keywords” so you can filter specifically by the Keywords field in metadata. Then choose “Don’t Contain” from the second popup, so you can filter based on an absence of specific keywords. Then enter the keywords that are absent from the images you’re looking for, separating each by a comma. In the example from today’s question you could enter “mom, dad, son”.

You can then choose the Metadata option to filter based on images that do contain a specific keyword, such as “tiger” in this example. Click the header for the right-most column in the Metadata section, and choose “Keyword” from the popup menu. That column will then display a list of all available keywords, so you can choose one or more keywords that you want to filter based on those keywords being included in metadata for the image. In this example you could choose “tiger” from that list.

In this way you will be filtering the images so that only those containing one or more keywords (just “tiger” in this case) and that don’t contain any of another set of keywords (“mom”, “dad”, and “son” in this case). That, in turn, will enable you to review the images, perhaps in this example enabling you to add the “mom”, “dad”, “son” keywords that hadn’t yet been added for all images.