Today’s Question: When I use a traveling catalog [in Lightroom Classic], I find the keyword structure always ends up being different than my desktop catalog. How do you “synch” the keywords between catalogs, preferably BEFORE the trip?
Tim’s Quick Answer: You can synchronize keywords from your primary catalog to a traveling catalog by exporting keywords from your primary catalog and importing them to your traveling catalog. This will ensure that all keywords on the Keyword List in your primary catalog will be readily available to you during your travels.
More Detail: The Keyword List on the right panel in the Library module in Lightroom Classic includes all keywords that have been added to all images in the current catalog, or that were added to the catalog regardless of whether they have been assigned to any images.
When you create a new empty catalog, such as to use on a laptop when traveling for photography, there will initially not be any keywords on the Keyword List. As a result, you can’t simply turn on the checkbox for a given keyword on the Keyword List when you want to add keywords to photos you import to your traveling catalog.
Fortunately, it is possible to effectively synchronize your list of keywords from the primary catalog to a catalog you’ll use while traveling.
To get started, open your primary catalog. From the menu choose Metadata > Export Keywords. In the dialog that appears you can choose where to save the exported keywords list and give that list a name. I recommend saving the list on a storage device you’ll be able to easily connect to your laptop computer, for example. You could also simply save on the desktop and then email the list to yourself. You can use a meaningful name for the keyword list, just to make sure you know where that list came from.
Next, you need to get the exported keyword list file to your laptop. You can use an external hard drive or other storage device, of course, or simply email the file to yourself since it won’t be a very large file.
With the exported keyword list on your laptop, you can then open (or create) your traveling catalog in Lightroom Classic. Then go to the menu and choose Metadata > Import Keywords. Navigate to the location where the exported keywords list is located and import that list.
At this point the Keyword List on the right panel in the Library module will include all of the keywords from your primary catalog. You can therefore assign keywords from this list to your photos while traveling. When you then merge the photos from your traveling catalog to the primary catalog back at home the keywords assigned while traveling will be included as part of that process.