Painter Tool


Today’s Question: What is the spray can icon on the bottom-left of the Lightroom screen?

Tim’s Answer: The Painter is a tool that may seem a bit “cute” on the surface, but that can actually be quite helpful for assigning metadata to your photos.

The Painter tool can be found on the toolbar below your photos when you are using the Grid view in the Library module. You can press the “G” key on the keyboard to switch to the Grid view, and you can press the “T” key as needed to toggle the visibility of the toolbar. If you don’t see the Painter tool on the toolbar, click the popup button at the far right of the toolbar and turn on the Painter option.

When you select the Painter tool from the toolbar below the Grid display you can then choose which specific metadata information you’d like to add to specific images. The available options include Keywords, Rating (for star ratings), Metadata (to apply a metadata preset), and more. You can then type or select the specific information you want to add using the field to the right of the “Paint” popup.

With the Painter tool configured for the specific metadata you want to add to photos, you can then click on the thumbnail for a photo to apply the applicable metadata to that photo. Even better, you can click-and-drag across multiple adjacent photos to apply the selected metadata to all of the images you drag across.

I find the Painter tool especially helpful for assigning keywords to images. Instead of spending time typing various keywords for individual images, or having to select multiple images before adding specific keywords, you can work quickly to apply keywords in multiple passes based on a visual review.

For example, let’s assume a trip to southeast Alaska where you photographed icebergs, eagles, whales, and other subjects. In some cases the photo will contain water and whales, in other cases water and icebergs, and in some cases perhaps all three. Instead of having to type the specific keywords for each image, or having to be careful in the specific images you select before adding keywords, you can set the Painter to one keyword at a time. Then, simply paint the designated keyword onto the applicable images. When you’re finished with that keyword, change the keyword and make another pass on the images.

While this may not sound like a fast and efficient approach to keywording, I have found that it actually can be considerably faster (and less frustrating) than other methods you might use.

For readers who have subscribed to my GreyLearning video training library, you can see the Painter tool in action in the “Lightroom 5: Organizing your Photos” course. The specific video is Lesson 11 of Chapter 4. And if you’re not already a GreyLearning subscriber, you can get more info here: