Today’s Question: You’ve explained in the past that problems can occur in Lightroom Classic if you make changes to the color label definitions after you’ve already assigned color labels to your photos. Does the same issue exist for changing the definitions for color labels for folders and collections? In other words, is it safe to change the color label definitions for folders and collections as long as I don’t change them for photos?
Tim’s Quick Answer: No, there is no problem at all with changing the definitions for color labels for folders or collections. In fact, updating those definitions can be helpful in your workflow.
More Detail: Lightroom Classic includes the ability to assign color labels to folders and collections, which can be helpful for a variety of workflow purposes. For example, I use a red color label to flag folders that contain photos I still need to review. If you change the definitions of the color labels for folders and collections to reflect the reasons you are using those color labels, you can make it easier to assign the correct color label for the correct purpose to a folder or collection.
The default color label definitions in Lightroom Classic use the name of the color as the term used for the label. So, for example, a red color label has the word “Red” associated with it. In the context of a folder or collection that means if you right-click on a folder, for example, and choose “Add Color Label to Folder” from the popup menu, the submenu will show “Red” at the top of the list.
However, you could update the definition for the red color label for folders to say something like “Review Needed” so that on that popup menu you would see “Review Needed” rather than “Red”. This can make it easier to select the correct color label for the intended purpose.
Making changes to color labels for folders or collections won’t cause any problems with existing color labels you’ve assigned to folders or collections. The same isn’t true for photos because the term defined for a color label at the time it is assigned is added to metadata to the photo, so that if you change the definitions for color labels for photos that metadata would no longer match.
To change the definitions for color labels for folders or collections first go to the Library module and from the menu choose Metadata > Color Label Set > Edit. In the Edit Color Label Set dialog go to the tab for Folders or Collections and update the definitions for each color label based on your workflow preference. Click the Change button and the updates will be applied.