Defining Color Labels


Today’s Question: I’ve started using Lightroom after previously using Adobe Bridge to manage my photos. The color labels I had applied to some of my photos now appear white. How do I get the original color back?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can recover your original color labels in Lightroom by either changing the color label definition to the Adobe Bridge defaults, or by repeating the assignment of color labels so they reflect Lightroom’s definitions.

More Detail: When you assign a color label to an image you’re actually just adding a word to a metadata field. Software such as Adobe Bridge or Lightroom then presents a color based on the word in metadata. The problem is, Bridge and Lightroom use two different definitions for color labels. For example, Bridge uses the term “Select” for the red color label and “Second” for the yellow color label”, while Lightroom uses the more logical approach of using the name of the color for the label definition. If you have color label values in metadata that don’t match the current definitions in Lightroom, the label will appear white.

One quick solution is to simply change the definition of color labels in Lightroom to match the terms used by Bridge. You can do so by going to the menu (while in the Library module) and selecting Metadata > Color Label Set > Bridge Default.

If you prefer to use the Lightroom definitions for color labels, you can leave the color label definitions set to “Lightroom Default”, and then change the color labels assigned to your images based on the original label you had applied. To work across your full catalog you could first choose All Photographs from the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module to view all photos in your catalog.

Then press the backslash key (\) to bring up the Library Filter bar. Make sure there aren’t any other filters applied, and then in the Metadata section click one of the column headers and choose Label from the popup. Click the name of the label you want to change, such as “Select” for the red color label assigned in Adobe Bridge.

With a filter established based on an “incorrect” color label definition, you can choose Edit > Select All from the menu to select all of the images that have the wrong color label definition, and then assign the correct color label. In the case of the “Select” color label assigned in Adobe Bridge, for example, you could press the number six (6) on the keyboard to assign the red color label based on Lightroom’s definition.