Today’s Question: One of your quick Lightroom tips was adding keywords using the painter tool. So, after adding a keyword how do you commit the word to the image(s) without accidentally selecting another image and thereby inadvertently adding the keyword to the wrong image?
Tim’s Quick Answer: When using the Painter tool in Lightroom to quickly add keywords (or other metadata) to your photos, the metadata is updated as soon as you click (or drag) on a photo. If you add a keyword in error, you can use the Undo command, or hold the Alt/Option key while clicking (or dragging) with the Painter tool to remove the keyword (or other metadata) from the applicable images.
More Detail: One of the unique things about Lightroom as compared to many other software applications is that you never actually need to “save” your work. As soon as you apply an update to an image, whether that is a metadata update or an adjustment in the Develop module, the change is applied immediately.
As a result, when you click on an image (or drag across multiple images) with the Painter tool in Lightroom to add a keyword or apply a different metadata update, the change is applied immediately. When working with the Painter tool, a small white border will be added around each image you have applied an update to. In this way you are able to see which images have been updated. Of course, that also means you might quickly see that you’ve made a mistake.
Fortunately, it is easy to undo such a mistake. First, you can use the Undo command. When you realize you accidentally applied a keyword to an image, you can choose Edit > Undo from the menu or press Ctrl+Z on the keyboard on Windows or Command+Z on Macintosh to take a step backward.
In addition, you can use the Painter tool to remove the current keyword or metadata update from an image. Simply hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh while clicking on an image with the Painter tool, and the current metadata value you’ve applied to the Painter will be removed from the image you click on (or from the images you drag across).
Note, by the way, that the “quick tips” referred to in today’s question are part of my “Lightroom Quick Tips” video series. If you’d like to gain access to the archive of existing tips and get a new video tip each week, you can get the details here: