Finding Images without Keywords

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Today’s Question: In Lightroom Classic is there an easy way to find out if all my photographs in the Catalog have keywords?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can indeed locate photos that do not have any keywords in metadata by creating a Smart Collection based on this metadata criterion.

More Detail: A Smart Collection in Lightroom can be thought of as a saved search result. And as it turns out, one of the options for defining a Smart Collection is to filter images based on an absence of keywords.

To get started, click the plus (+) symbol to the right of the Collections heading on the left panel in the Library module, and choose “Create Smart Collection” from the popup menu. In the Create Smart Collection dialog that appears, enter a meaningful name in the Name field, such as “Photos without Keywords”.

Next, click the popup at the top-left corner of the “rules” area, which is the large white box that takes up the majority of the dialog. Choose “Keywords” from that popup. In the popup to the right of that, choose “are empty”, meaning you want to filter images based on a Keywords field in metadata that is empty.

You can choose whether you want to save this collection inside of a collection set (and if so which set) in the Location section of the Create Smart Collection dialog. Then just be sure that there are no other rules listed for your Smart Collection. If anything other than the “are empty” rule for Keywords is listed, click the minus (-) symbol to the right of that rule to remove it.

When you’re finished defining the Smart Collection, click the Create button at the bottom-right of the Create Smart Collection dialog. You can then navigate to the Collections section of the left panel in the Library and select the Smart Collection you created in order to view all images that do not have keywords assigned to them.

Note that the Smart Collection will dynamically update, so that if you add keywords to an image within the Smart Collection, it will automatically be removed from the Smart Collection. And, of course, if you remove all keywords from an image, that image will be automatically added to the Smart Collection.