Unwanted Keywords


Today’s Question: I volunteer at my local camera club and my job is to gather up the winning images from each month, change their resolution, apply a watermark and upload to our gallery. In that process, the keywords attached to those photos by the maker become “attached” to my Lightroom catalog. Each month, I delete the images but the “zero” keywords remain. Is there a way that I can prevent the keywords from other photographers from becoming a part of my catalog?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are two approaches you could use here. You could create a metadata preset that removes keywords during the import process, or you could remove unused keywords after you’ve removed the photos from your Lightroom catalog.

More Detail: While a metadata preset is generally used to add specific metadata values to your photos, they can also be used to remove the contents of certain metadata fields for your photos. Such a metadata preset could be used during the process of importing the photos into Lightroom.

You’ll first need to create a metadata preset that will remove keywords from metadata for your photos. To do so, go to the Metadata menu on the menu bar and choose “Edit Metadata Presets”. This will bring up the Edit Metadata Presets dialog, which you can use to specify the contents of a metadata preset. Make sure the checkboxes along the right column in the Edit Metadata Presets dialog are all turned off, except for the checkbox to the right of the Keywords field at the very bottom of the dialog.

With the checkbox for the Keywords field being the only checkbox that is turned on, and the actual Keywords text box empty, you can save this result as a preset that will cause keywords to be removed from photos. Click the Preset popup at the top of the Edit Metadata Preset dialog, and choose “Save Current Settings as New Preset” from that popup. Enter a meaningful name (such as “Remove Keywords”) in the New Preset dialog, and click the Create button to create the preset.

When you are importing images that you want to exclude the keywords for, you can simply select your “Remove Keywords” preset from the Metadata popup in the “Apply During Import” section of the right panel in the Import dialog. Just be sure to select a different preset next time you’re importing photos that you prefer to retain existing keywords for.

Another alternative is to simply remove all keywords from Lightroom that are not assigned to any images within your Lightroom catalog. To perform that step all you need to do is choose Metadata > Purge Unused Keywords from the menu. This will cause all keywords on your Keyword List on the right panel in the Library module that are not currently assigned to any photos in your Lightroom catalog to be removed from that list.

Either approach here can provide a perfectly good solution. The main question would be whether you need to view the keywords for the images that will only be in your catalog temporarily for processing, or if you prefer to never import the keywords for those images in the first place.